Productivity is one of the most popular topics in this day and age and for fair good reason.
With only 24 hours each day and so much on our plate, it is no wonder we are looking for new and interesting ways to be more productive in our day-to-day lives.
However, not all techniques or tips work for everybody, not to mention it’s very easy to become obsessed with the idea of productivity without actually getting down to the work we have piling up on our to-do lists.
To help you tackle those very important goals, here are some unique things to consider when trying to be productive.
Where Do You Get Your Energy From?
One fundamental question when it comes to productivity is where do you get your energy from?
Specifically, are you an extrovert or an introvert? Usually, there is a very big misunderstanding as to what these words actually mean.
Some class Extroverts as being incredibly loud and obnoxious people while Introverts are seen to be quiet and shy. Although there may be some pattern of behaviour there, this is not always the case.
The Extrovert/Introvert model is all about where we get our energy from.
If you’re ever wondering whether you are one or the other, can ask yourself some simple questions.
At the end of the week when you are tired do you like to relax with some friends at a bar/café?
Do you feel that you need to spend time away from people to recharge?
When you’re around people do you feel yourself feeling more energetic, happier and more excited or do you feel drained after a number of interactions and need to then retreat to a quieter spot?
Knowing this about yourself is a great strength and can help you create the perfect environment to be productive.
If you are introverted, then life can be quite simple as you can find a quiet spot anywhere that would be comfortable for you, but if you’re an extrovert like me, finding the right environment could be challenging.
This is because for many extroverts spending time alone drains our energies and we feel more depleted without social contact or a stimulating environment.
Extroverts also find it difficult to focus for long periods of time and the lack of social company usually makes it painful to keep working for longer hours. As you can imagine, this makes productivity extremely difficult.
However, despite these challenges, it’s an easier fix than you might think. During my time at university, I had to spend many long hours studying and writing assignments and often hated it with a passion.
When it came to group work or presentations I felt like I was in my element but sitting down to write would often mean I’d be bored, tired and depleted within an hour.
However, I found that I worked better and could work for longer with the right level of focus when I actually did my work in a public setting.
This meant I spent nearly all of my time in the lounge area of my library or at a local café and would find myself going for hours, while some of my introverted friends opted for quieter study areas of the library.
Since the global pandemic, it’s become extremely difficult to find the right places to study or work but despite the challenges we’ve faced over the last years there has been a huge growth in YouTube Study with Me videos, possibly due to the latest obsession with productivity.
Just by searching up Study with Me on YouTube, you’ll find hundreds (if not thousands) of videos that are made for the purpose of you not feeling alone when doing some work.
What’s also really amazing is that many YouTube channels are now doing these videos live so you could study and chat with people from all over the world (as long as you don’t get distracted).
How Elon Musk Gets Busy
Elon Musk requires no introduction for someone who runs multiple companies and spends 100 hours or so each week on them.
On top of being such an incredible productivity machine, he also handles his five children and tries to make time for fitness and hobbies.
Musk like many CEOs and leaders uses a time management method known simply as time blocking. Using this method he basically plans nearly every 10 minutes of his day, so that tasks are split across his timetable for each day at 10-minute blocks.
This allows him to schedule a lot more in his schedule and it forces him to stick within the allocated time for each activity.
One of my favourite rules in relation to time allocation is Parkinson’s law which specifies that work expands or shrinks according to the time that has been allocated to it.
If for example, you needed to complete a paper for university or write a report for work, whatever the task, if you were to give yourself three days to complete the task then you will spend the entire three days completing it.
However, if you were to allocate only a couple of hours to do it, then you will find that magically you were able to able to achieve far more than you originally anticipated in those couple of hours.
As Musk says himself ”If you give yourself 30 days to clean your home, it will take 30 days. But if you give yourself 3 hours it will take you 3 hours. The same applies to your goals, ambitions and plans.”
Using both time-blocking and the principle of Parkinson’s law, you will be able to set up a schedule that is not only effective in its accomplishment but also satisfying in its achievement.
Remove the Productivity Blocks in Your Head
What happens in your mind when you think about spending hours on your laptop doing that one big task that you’ve been putting off the whole weekend?
Do you get a sense of dread? Do you feel uneasy and even slightly put off when you think about what you have to do?
Many times we associate negativity of some sort with the work we want to do and because of that, it becomes a block for us which results in us making little to no progress.
There have been many times when I’ve tried to just start an activity but whenever I even thought about doing it, I would feel low, depleted or just demotivated.
This happens because we’ve anchored negative emotions to the work we want to do and as usual our subconscious mind is trying to avoid all negativity.
But there are ways to destroy negative anchors as you can create new ones just by associating new feelings with the stressful or difficult activity.
Let’s take the gym as an example.
Not so long ago due to the global pandemic, I found myself sitting in front of Netflix more often than usual with a bag of popcorn.
This meant that slowly but surely my waist was beginning to grow and I could no longer blame it on water retention. So I started back at the gym, but almost daily I dreaded the thought of going and on most occasions, I made an excuse for not going.
I realised then that there were negative anchors associated with the gym so I had to break those by associating new positive ones.
The most simple way of doing that was first, finding out what I loved at the time and secondly, making sure I was only exposed to it at the gym.
At the time I was really into this one show on Netflix and so I made a rule that I could only watch the episodes of this particular show while I was on the treadmill or the stationary bike at the gym.
Wouldn’t you know it; in a matter of days, I was absolutely aching to get back into the gym to continue on with the series.
Whilst I was weight lifting, I would play my favourite songs which got me excited and ready for the workout.
I changed my gym time to a time where I knew some of my friends would go which meant I got to see some friends after the workout and catch up.
So let’s say you have a report to finish and you’re already dreading it then maybe try putting on your favourite song while you start at it.
Schedule to see some friends maybe right after an hour of productive work or reward yourself with your favourite food.
Whatever positive association you choose, it will increase your anticipation for the activity and motivate you each time to do what you need to do.
Have other productivity tips and tricks that work for you? Do share them in the comments.