In today’s world, the classic obsession with being physically present in the office is becoming obsolete, with attention turning increasingly toward issues of work productivity.
More than ever before, human resources departments are accepting new and more flexible working conditions. That said, several habits must be acquired to work in a disciplined manner and to be more productive, both at a day job as well as for any projects, work or otherwise.
Below are 10 habits that simply require a few minutes of your time and a willingness to read them!
This post is also available in Spanish.
10 HABITS TO BE MORE PRODUCTIVE
1. Attitude changes everything
Theodore Roosevelt (US President 1901-1909) famously said that: “When you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it." This is exactly the kind of outlook that ensures a high level of productivity. In addition to giving you a boost of self-confidence, this attitude requires the rejection of any notion that success or failure is predestined. Otherwise, the pressure or relief that comes with thinking that either is inevitable could paralyze you completely.
2. Make to-do lists
One of the most obvious habits of highly productive people is making to-do lists of all necessary tasks. A list not only maps out what you have to do but constitutes a source of motivation and even an exercise in honesty: by visualizing tasks you can identify ones which, though you may not be able stop thinking about them, are not truly a priority. Don’t just settle for writing lists and crossing out tasks once completed: challenge yourself to take off certain items that should not figure on them in the first place. Prioritizing is everything.
3. Set deadlines
In a similar vein to the to-do lists, establishing deadlines for each task that needs to be completed creates a good incentive to maximize productivity. Again, it is important to be realistic with each deadline and not to let yourself be carried away and schedule everything to be done for the next day.
4. Take breaks
It may seem a paradox but knowing when and how to take a break from work increases productivity dramatically. When our brain works overtime, it uses all the available glucose in our bodies; to replenish our energy levels, we need to take time out and go for a walk, do exercise and even meditate.
5. Avoid multitasking
Again, it may seem like counterproductive advice but multitasking is occasionally the nemesis of productivity. Sometimes it feels like best way to avoid doing nothing is attempting to do ten things at once. However, studies have shown that by taking on ten different tasks in a day can reduce our IQ by up to ten points.
6. Limit distractions
Years ago, the biggest possible distraction in the workplace was staring fixedly at a flickering screen, trying to self-hypnotize to the hum of the printer or simply staring out of the window. Nowadays we are exposed to endless, attention-grabbing distractions, much of which take place on the same platforms we use to do our work: social media, instant messages, email, the very things that will never let us sleep… To avoid procrastination we have to use each of them with discipline and even set up controls to limit such distractions, either by using purposely designed apps or gestures such as simply turning your mobile phone off or closing the tab that we are refreshing obsessively every couple of minutes on our web browser.
7. Accept and learn from criticism
People who react defensively to criticism tend to be self-indulgent and not recognize their own lack of productivity. If instead of trying to justify why someone’s negative opinion of you has no solid grounds for existing, simply listen to it, accept it and try to improve upon it, the sum of which will help you attain a much more productive attitude and outlook.
8. Forget being a perfectionist
The French philosopher Voltaire once said: “perfection is the enemy of good.” Its meaning is open to interpretation but it points in one direction for individuals seeking to be more productive: as perfection does not exist, instead of obstinately trying to achieve it, we should prioritize a project’s deadlines and not delay proceedings to reach a state of perfection that will always ultimately be subjective.
9. Visualize the final result
Another way of sparking our productivity is when we first visualize what the final result of a given project might look like. This future projection effectively gives an incentive that, with enough focus and imagination, will motivate us to double our efforts and make it happen.
10. Eliminate what is superficial
“It is not enough to be busy.
So are the ants. The question is:
What are we busy about?”. - Henry David Thoreau
We are always busy doing something, and yet we should be asking ourselves if our busyness has anything to do with our goals in life. Will being busy impact positively on our jobs or lives and will it ultimately make us any happier? If we ask ourselves these questions honestly, it will enable us to eliminate a great deal of redundant tasks from our daily lives and better follow the famous 80/20 rule: roughly 80% of the outcomes from a given day should come from 20% of the inputs.
We hope these tips have been useful or at least inspiring in your efforts to become more productive. As you continue on your journey, keep these words in mind by American inventor Thomas Edison: “There is no substitute for hard work.”
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This post is also available in Spanish.
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