Productivity Over Time: How Developing Habits Can Rewire Your Brain
We all have the person we are and the person we aspire to be. Whether it’s at work, at home or with a hobby, there are areas to improve. It’d be great if we could say, “I’m going to be more productive!” and see it happen.
But we can’t because that’s not how humans work. Instead, we have to find ways to improve our productivity over time. We can define what makes us more productive and integrate those things slowly into our lives.
But being productive isn’t just about what you can do. It’s about choosing the things you need to do over the things you don’t.
Work is one part of a person’s life where they may want to increase productivity over time, but hobbies and health are also important. Working on one area at a time can help give insight into which parts you value the most so that you can develop prioritization habits.
Take Your Time
Think about when you try a new diet. The advice you always get is to make small changes for lasting results and there’s an excellent reason for that! Completely overhauling any aspect of your life is incredibly difficult — doing it all at once is even harder.
Any time you start a diet, especially one that requires a lot of changes, you probably fall off the wagon after a few weeks. Building good habits, like eating healthy or improving productivity, takes time. So slow down, make a plan and make your goals tiny.
Tiny Goals Make Mountains into Molehills
Setting a big, vague goal for yourself is a great way to never fully accomplish it. Things like “get more productive” or “get healthier” never really work out because it doesn’t mean anything. And in today’s world, where distractions are as frequent as a text message away, that productivity thing can fly right out the window!
Creating little goals that you can measure and improve upon individually can drastically help you increase productivity over time. Measurable means one specific thing — you have to assign a number to it.
That means if you want to learn more about your industry, you can set a very specific goal of reading two articles a day about it. This allows you to easily check off your goal on a list.
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Minimize Your To-Do’s
To-do lists are a great way to keep yourself organized but they’re also an easy way to get overwhelmed. When you have a list of things that never seems to end, you need to stop and think about what’s on it. Are those things really that important?
When you work through a list that’s obviously too long, it’s easy to accidentally work straight through lunch and an hour past quitting time. But just because you stayed late doesn’t mean you were more productive! Working more than 40 hours a week creates a slump in productivity you can’t escape from until you have time off.
Drop your list back to the core aspects of your job. Aim to accomplish three to five tasks in a week and your productivity will skyrocket on its own.
Breathe In the Good, Exhale the Bad
While you’re busy setting small, measurable goals for yourself, you can think about what habits you want to replace as well. Most people tend to work through lunch or completely zone out, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. Neither of these is really the ideal option — you need the break from work because it helps you reset. Breaks can actually help make you more productive when you come back.
The best use of your break time is to determine another area of your life you would like to see an improvement. Maybe you love to paint but you don’t make much time to practice. You could spend your lunch break watching a video tutorial on painting or listening to music while you sketch.
The important thing to remember is that you can’t make yourself productive overnight. Create standards to hold yourself accountable and make the necessary changes to transform your habits.
Once effective, this creates a cycle of actively wanting to accomplish something. Instead of berating yourself for not doing enough, you’ll finally be happy you’re making substantial progress towards your goals.
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