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ATTENTION! ATTENTION! New studies show that a human’s attention span is officially less than that of a goldfish. A goldfish’s attention span is 9 seconds. …and humans can now only pay attention for 8. HA, humans. In this tech-fueled society of instant gratification that we call home, being truly productive is harder than ever. There are literally *endless* distractions to throw us off course at any moment, and being truly productive in our work becomes near-impossible sometimes. We just rotate in and around the cycle of “I’m so busy,” never truly getting into a state of flow. As a result, productivity = zilch. We’re really good at being busy, but we’re really bad at being productive.
These 8 productivity hacks are actually doable, though. Actually, they’re not just doable – they’re essential. Ain’t nobody got time for lost time. You’ve got a full life. You’ve got places to go and people to see and dreams to turn into reality. Do you have time to spend the entire day bebopping between tasks, with an end score of zero accomplished? Not if you want to truly be the #boss you were born to be. My recommendation: soak up these productivity hacks for all they’re worth.
The absolute most productive days of my life have been totally planned. This doesn’t mean just jot a few notes down in the ol’ planner – this means intentionally crafting your day in a realistic way to accomplish all of the “musts” and as many of the “shoulds” as possible. I plan every single day entirely out the night before, and save the second draft schedule edits for coffee-fueled morning eyes. The number one thing killing your productivity is spontaneity. Spur-of-the-moment decisions work well to impress dates and make the moment fun, but they do *not* work well when it comes to long-term goals. The key to planning? When you plan, persist and get what you planned done.
Time blocking is bae. I used to be a chronic over-scheduler. Can’t even lie – I still am. I can easily overbook myself to a rigid schedule that’s just impossible to follow to a T. Following hour-by-hour dictation isn’t realistic, though, because it doesn’t take into account how long tasks actually take to complete. If I ambitiously allot an hour per thing when the first task of the day takes a solid three, I’m setting myself up for to-do list failure right off the bat (and a messed up calendar to boot). Instead, I time block. I’ve got my favorite planner, and from there I use a highlighter to mark my work day off into four sections: 7-9 am, 9-12 pm, 12-2 pm, and 2-5 pm. This lets you more realistically determine how much time something needs. It also helps work around those times of day (*cough* 2-3 pm *cough*) when ain’t nobody got time for paying attention to anything that doesn’t have caffeine in it.
If you’re not batch processing, you’re doing it wrong. Seriously. There’s this thing called context switching, and it’s what happens when your mind starts jumping from one thing to another. You’re on one tab, then you suddenly switch to Facebook…then you remember an email you wanted to send, so you abruptly hop to Gmail…then to a shopping page…then to tonight’s dinner recipe…then you see an ad that reminds you of the job you actually have to pay the bills and you’re sent back to square one to “just do it.” Meanwhile, you’ve lost so much productivity because of the energy your mind inherently uses up to switch from one thing to the next. Instead, batch process. If you know you have three articles or blog posts to write for the upcoming week, write them all at once. Edit a week’s worth of photography at once. Schedule all of your social media for the week at once. Eliminate the need to context switch when you least expect it to up your productivity by a landslide.
Context switching is falling prey to distractions. So, eliminate ’em altogether. I’m the absolute worst at this; I swear I have a disorder where I just consistently have waaaaaay too many tabs open on my internet at all times. Too-many-tab-itis. And it’s the #1 bane of my existence when it comes to amping up the productivity. The solution? Close everything. Eliminate anything and everything standing in the path of productive.
Unplug everything else
Half the time, our biggest distraction is our other technology (lookin’ atchu, iPhone with #alltheapps). When we get the check-notifications urge dinging in our heads, it’s usually because we’re plugged into Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, email…every online connection under the sun. So, simply unplug. Put your phone in another room if you have to, and don’t allow your eyes to wander every time a push notification comes through on lock screen.
Separation of “must” and “to”
Meaning, separate “must do” from “to do.” This is a biggie. Where my over-achieving planners at??? *raises hand* We over-achieving planners are the ones who have at least 10 things on the day’s calendar, broken down by the unrealistic hour as aforementioned. The result? Pain and grievance and frustration and self-doubt when we inevitably can’t finish the ambition vomit that’s staring us in the face. I think it’s fine to write down everything you’d ideally like to accomplish – we dream big here, peeps! But in the grand scheme of things, for your own productivity and mental health, it’s important to indicate which of the “to-do”‘s are actually MUST do’s on any given day. My favorite planner already separates each day like that to make it easy on ya. But even if it’s not already outlined in your planner, make it happen anyways.
Get flowin’ ASAP
Flow is a real thing, peeps. A really real, fabulous thing. Flow is an actual psychological state which I was, quite frankly, *obsessed* with back in Positive Psychology class at UPenn. In flow, time seems to stand still. Alternatively, you might feel like time flies by. Either way, it’s the state of being where you’re just so dang in the zone that basically nothing can get you outta it. You feel amazing and work seemingly effortlessly and productivity just…flows. It’s the most satisfying thing and you don’t even realize you’re in it when you’re in it. I swear, productivity in a flow state is my hard drug of choice.
Surround yourself with all the right resources
Depending on your everyday life, different resources will suit you better than others. Le duh. But find out what works for you…then use it like there’s no tomorrow. When it comes to productivity, an online app called RescueTime can run in the background of your computer and send you reports on how much time is *actually* being used on work vs. social media. Evernote lets me hit out a whole buncha thoughts on a whole buncha things in one organized, productive platform, which suits my multi-passionate brain well
if when it does decide to get inspired on the spot.
How do amp up your productivity when it’s lacking?
I’d lovelovelove to hear what works (+ what doesn’t work!) fo’ you, so drop a comment with your own productivity hacks!