It’s unlikely that large, sweeping changes in habit will last very long. By nature, humans just aren’t wired to adhere or implement change quickly. Chalk it up to millennia spent in hunter-gatherer societies, or call it lazy, but accept that drastic changes in behavior probably aren’t going to translate to long-term habits.
Productivity might seem like one of these things, and if you subscribe to Steve Jobs’ way of thinking, then you believe that we’re all mystically sorted into different levels of ability. But here’s the good news: by starting small, you can wind up making larger changes that will increase your personal productivity. Here are a few basic tips from Lifehack that high level performers do daily which you can apply to your life ASAP.
1. Make Lists
It’s incredibly easy to become overwhelmed by larger projects, and lose sight of the forest through the trees. Drill down on the daily essentials to keep the project moving by creating an action list every morning (or start it before you leave the previous day). It’ll keep you on task and make every day feel fulfilling, because who doesn’t love crossing things off a list?
2. Maximize Downtime
In every industry there’s something new to learn, research, or complete. Embrace this during your downtime; if you have too much downtime, it’s a sign that you’re not stretching yourself far enough. Some might find it handy to literally schedule their downtime (i.e. 30 minutes reading, 60 minutes cooking, etc.), or just apply the list principle here as well.
3. Limit Technological Distractions
How many notifications do you get on your cell phone? Between text messages, email, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and everything else for which we use electronic devices, it adds up to serious wastes of time. Try to limit the number of times you check your notifications in a day. The easiest way is to remove the temptation by putting your phone in airplane mode. There are also browser add-ons and apps you can download which will block or limit access to sites you specify.
4. Don’t Lose Track of Your Thoughts
The best ideas really do come to people at the most inopportune times, like when you’re working out, falling asleep, showering, or driving. The psychology behind it is, in a nutshell, that when we stop thinking so intensively about one thing, we unconsciously give our mind permission to start making connections with other areas of the brain, and click the light bulb pops on. The key is when that idea comes to you to track it somehow. If your phone is nearby, utilize voice notes or some sort of recording where you can replay it. In other instances, keep notebook on hand.
5. Make Your Own Definition of Success
Success is relative. Think of people whom you admire, and write down what it is you admire about them. Is it their house? Their job? Their clothes? Or is it a list of their accomplishments, how they carry themselves, or maybe adjectives and emotions which define their success? Chances are it’s the latter. Figure out what success means to you before confusing admiration with envy. P.S. once you’re able to define success for you, those envious feelings will melt away because you’re on your own track.
6. Embrace Criticism
When someone mentions something they dislike about your work, don’t let your defensive side come up. Consider it as feedback, and something to improve upon (assuming it’s constructive feedback). If it’s just result of hater-ade, dismiss it. Either way, thank the person providing the feedback, which shows 1) you are a gracious, humble person and 2) if the criticism was born out of envy or reflective more on the critic, they’ll be disarmed.
What productivity really comes down to is an awareness that time is limited. To make the most out of every day takes a lot of intent and personal accountability which, to be honest, isn’t going to happen overnight. Start with tip 1 on our list, and move your way down day by day, or start incorporating one every Monday.
What’s your method for improving productivity?