Whether with regards to your professional life and the various goals that you want to achieve in that domain, or whether with regards to certain hobbies, pastimes, and projects that you are committed to in your personal life, there’s a good chance that you find yourself – at least from time to time – wishing you could be just a bit more productive.
These days, we are all lucky to have access to such a vast range of resources via the Internet, that it’s barely necessary to leave the house in order to get essential items, in addition to huge volumes of potentially useful information, more or less regardless of the specifics of the matter.
You can, for example, get many NHS repeat prescriptions provided by Simple Online Pharmacy, and the Amazon Kindle bookstore is fully stocked with all sorts of different fiction and non-fiction books that you can have instantly delivered to your computer or your reading device with a couple of clicks.
For all that, though, “productivity” is a bit of a funny one – in that it is something that depends entirely on you actually taking action and doing things, rather than just uncovering the right path forward “in theory.”
Here are a handful of lifestyle tips that you can take action on today, that can help you to turbocharge your productivity in a hurry.
Start treating sleep as something that genuinely matters
One extremely common fallacy that continues to persist for some reason – especially in entrepreneurial circles – is the idea that it is possible to maintain a high level of productivity while completely neglecting things like proper sleep and nutrition.
Ultimately, sacrificing hours of sleep at night in order to “get a bit more done,” or to squeeze in a bit of evening leisure time, is one of the most detrimental things you can do if you actually care about maintaining peak productivity – or even if you just care about getting good work done whatsoever, or about remaining healthy and keeping up a decent sense of well-being.
In his highly acclaimed book “Why We Sleep,” the sleep scientist Matthew Walker outlines a tremendous number of different ways in which sleep deprivation completely undermines the health, discipline, and cognitive function of individuals who have been studied – even in cases where the sleep deprivation was fairly minor.
But you probably realise, just intuitively speaking, that you are nowhere near as productive, focused, or driven as you could be, when you are seriously sleep deprived.
So, start taking sleep seriously – and if you find that you are routinely getting less sleep than you need in order to feel rested, or that the sleep you’re getting isn’t refreshing you, it might be worth your while getting a sleep study done, and trying out a variety of different approaches to resolve the issue.
Start “time blocking” your days in advance
It’s extremely easy to misjudge how much time you have available in a day, and to get a completely mistaken sense of just how many tasks you can achieve in a given period of time, if you’re constantly “winging it” and working based on something like intuition.
When it comes to ensuring that you are as productive as you can possibly be, there is simply no alternative to “time blocking,” in order to structure your days and ensure that you develop a realistic sense of what can be achieved.
“Time blocking” is a technique that is famously very popular with all sorts of highly successful individuals in the business world. It involves using a calendar with a daily view – usually a digital calendar service such as Apple Calendar or Google Calendar – and “booking in” all the tasks that you plan to achieve in the day, in particular time slots.
Keep in mind that the aim is to create a realistic schedule for your day that you can actually follow, not a hyper-idealistic one where you’re supposed to work constantly from morning until night without even allowing time for meals.
Generally speaking, you will become more comfortable and sophisticated in your time blocking approach as you gain experience with the technique. Just remember to allow more time than you think you will need for major tasks, and to also account for things like evening leisure activities, and your lunch break.
Work to keep a (mostly) consistent wake up schedule
There are all sorts of different productivity guides and commentators out there who write and speak specifically about the benefits of capitalising on the morning hours – whether that means coming up with a “Miracle Morning” routine, or whether it just means squeezing in a bit of work before the rest of the world really wakes up and starts placing demands on your time.
Beyond the simple fact of utilising the morning hours to get things done, however, there are real productivity-related benefits to having a (at least mostly) consistent wake up schedule.
Simply put, your aim when striving to enhance your productivity is to impose as much manageable structure and order as you can on your daily routine and workplace habits, in order to ensure that you can remain on point, and achieve things you want to achieve.
A regular wake up time is one of the most fundamental psychological cues that we all depend on for a sense of structure and routine – and that’s not just purely “abstract” thing, either. Keeping a regular wake up time is also directly connected to getting your circadian rhythm in sync and keeping it there.
If you know that certain things are major distraction hazards, cut out or restrict them during certain times, rather than relying on willpower to get you by
There are many underlying issues connected to the idea of trying to rely too heavily on sheer willpower to get you through the challenges of the day – including the fact that there is good psychological research suggesting that willpower becomes “fatigued” and “exhausted” if it is engaged and relied on too much within a set period of time.
If you know that there are major distraction hazards surrounding you that could easily send you into a spiral of web surfing, or unproductive and ultimately unnecessary “busy work,” you will not be doing your productivity goals any favours if you allow those distractions to continue to occupy space in your immediate vicinity, while relying purely on willpower in order to keep you focused.
Generally speaking, it’s a much better and more reliable idea to cut out or restrict those distraction hazards entirely, at least during certain times when you are really striving for peak productivity.
Among other things, that could mean brainstorming ideas with a pen and paper instead of on your computer. Or setting up an effective website blocker.
Prioritise taking action – even if only in small ways
Procrastination tends to be a major drain on productivity, and it is often rooted in a sense that the work itself will be so irritating and unpleasant to do, that it’s necessary to “buy some time” and to do something – anything – else other than actually getting started.
Unsurprisingly, though, when you actually do take action and gain momentum, you will typically find that the process is nowhere near as stressful and difficult as you imagined it was going to be.
Prioritise taking action and getting started – even if only in small ways. Simply building momentum can go a very long way indeed in helping you to be productive.