We all know the dreadful feeling that comes with realizing just how unproductive you’ve been.
You know, when you haven’t accomplished anything close to what you should have and instead, have spent your entire afternoon looking through pictures of your high school prom.
Fortunately, tapping into that potential is much easier than you think! Productivity isn’t genetic – it’s a habit, and just like any habit, it can be learned and developed. Seriously productive people aren’t all that different from you and me, they have just figured out how to make the most of their resources.
Here’s a list of things you can do in your everyday life to become a more productive person (or at least when you need to be).
I live by a saying that goes something like this: “If you don’t know where you want to be in five years from now, you’re already there.” Although this might sound depressing, I promise that taking this statement seriously will have a positive impact on your life. Here’s why:
It doesn’t matter how big or small the task at hand is, you have to be able see the bigger picture. In other words, you have to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. (This is where that wonderful word “motivation” comes in). So, how do you develop the vision required to arrive at desirable outcomes?
You should have two different kinds of goals: long-term and short-term – and the latter should be related to the former. Pairing long term goals with specific short term goals can help you get started by tomorrow morning! I’m not saying you need to develop a grand 10 year plan. Doing something as simple as making a list of jobs you’d like to apply for when you graduate, or what graduate programs you hope to get into, will give you clarity and help you reach those substantial long-term objectives.
If you exercise regularly, you might already know that there are benefits other than losing weight and staying in shape. If you don’t, now can be the perfect time to learn! The science behind what exercising can do for your brain, and by extension, your overall work performance is really incredible. In addition to increasing your mood and alertness, daily exercise can boost concentration by 21% and motivation to work by 41%.
When you exercise, you are increasing blood flow to the brain, which is the engine to your vehicle of productivity. Having all that extra oxygen and glucose pumping through your body will help you feel more energized throughout the day (goodbye 2pm slump!). In addition, regular exercise can help curb feelings of anxiety and depression, both of which can get in the way of reaching your maximum potential. You don’t need to go out and get a personal trainer, try some of the following suggestions to help you feel the effects of daily exercise.
- Jogging for 30 minutes a day before work
- Buy a used bike (and actually use it)
- Have all your friends buy pedometers and engage in some healthy competition
- Buy a workout DVD (so you have the option to exercise in your pyjamas)
- Join an intramural team on campus or outside of school (dodgeball?)
- Check out some drop-in classes in your area – you might just spark a new interest!
Not only will exercise help boost your current productivity, it will help keep you mentally sharper throughout your entire life. Your body generates fewer and fewer brain cells as you age, which causes you to slow down. Starting this habit now will give you a major advantage for years to come!
It’s not about the amount of time you put into a task, it’s about what you make of it. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve sat down with the intention to produce a world-class essay, only to be left with a really organized iTunes library after a few hours.
Although the two go hand in hand, there’s a huge difference between working effectively and working productively. In simpler terms, this is just an example of quality vs. quantity. Let’s say you skipped breakfast, underslept then continued to sit down and work for 8 hours. In the short term, you are being effective, but not productive. In the same situation, had you taken two hours to catch up on sleep and mix in a healthy breakfast, you would have likely been more productive for the remaining six hours.
Maximizing your time also means eliminating distractions so you can focus. If you sit down with the intention to get work done, there’s no reason why you should be checking Twitter every ten minutes. Plan ahead by scheduling breaks for social media, cleaning or eating – it will help and dramatically reduce the time it takes for you to get stuff done!
We all have the potential to increase our productivity by following these few guidelines. So what are you waiting for? Get back to work!