It’s something I personally am dealing with, there’s so much that I need to get moving to reach my envisioned space but I end up excusing it off to limited time. But, is that the real reason why I and most of you fall short of our goals, does putting the blame on time pays off well? obviously not, does it relieves us of the stress and pain of relinquishing our dreams and being caught as the culprit? Maybe, yes.
So, limited time and other resourceful convenient answers are actually not the answers but only a delusion of momentary happiness. We can get more done, any day, every day, today. We just need to be consciously choosy of how and where we choose to spend our energy and time.
Below are 15 things that can help us escape excuses and start lifting the weight of travail and persistence for making our dream happen.
THE PARETO PRINCIPLE – 80/20 RULE
The Pareto Principle is an observation that most things in life are not distributed evenly. That it’s seen in most cases 20% of the work/workers/customers bring 80% of the results/revenue. While the percentages are given they are not fixed. If we take the crux of the principle we’ll get that most of our activities don’t really provide many results and vice-versa. So, as the percentages are pliant it doesn’t have to be 20-80 but a variety of it, it may be that your 10% of work gives you 50% of the results or any other combination. It doesn’t have to be fixed to the definition.
But what has this rule got to do with us getting more out of our day?
Well, I think it’s pretty clear and you already know it. But still here’s my interpretation. By taking in conscious steps to assess the efforts and their returns we can find out our most productive activities and our least or in some cases zero productive activities. Then, from thereon eliminate, eliminate, and for the remaining distribute effectively.
THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
This technique was created by Francesco Cirillo for time management.
What is this technique?
It’s a simple technique where you divide your work into a short burst of time say 25 minutes and after the completion of this time frame, you take a break for 5 minutes. After doing this for say 90 minutes with 15 minutes of break you then need to take 15-20 minutes of break to freshen up your mind.
While in the process of “Pomodoro” you need to eliminate distractions and have complete focus on what you decide to do in that timeframe and while on break, you’re on break, relax, walk, look outside the window, do anything but work.
But again why keep things adamant? Mold it into your own productive cycle. If you have 15 minutes before a meeting starts, do Pomodoro for 15 minutes, if you can go on for more than 90 minutes before you need a break of 15-20 minutes, try 150 minutes. The idea is to take the technique and make it yours. But once you make a routine don’t break it. Keep the flow going and be more productive.
There have been many studies that prove that we are at our best in the morning few hours after we wake up. But there’s also a fact that most of us are consumers in our productive hours rather than creators. We consume information, news, etc whereas we should be creating stuff, we let our productive fresh mind go down with clutter.
So, how can we change that?
We plan our day with absolute clarity. Define your goals for the day a night before you sleep. Categorize your tasks into
- MIT’s (Most Important Tasks) that fill the first half or so of your day. Try filling in your productive hours with these tasks.
- Then come your Important Tasks.
- The remaining time can be filled with other tasks.
Even if on some days you aren’t able to do anything apart from your MIT’s still you’d be satisfied that you were able to accomplish them because possibly they will be that 20% that contribute 80% as we read in point 1 (Pareto Principle).
THE REWARD EFFECT
When you set a goal and achieve it dopamine is released into your brain which makes you feel happy. While that in itself is a good reason to accomplish what you set out to accomplish but to make it even better and pleasurable for your brain add a reward to it after every big feat. Yes, do it for the great goals because that will make your brain accustomed to the feeling of rewards after you get your MIT’s done.
THE APPRECIATION EFFECT
Appreciate your achievements no matter how minuscule. This will trick your brain to subconsciously push you for hard work because of the belief that it will be appreciated and made to feel good after the achievement.
THE SURROUNDING EFFECT
Most work cultures believe in keeping things fixed, the cubicle, the computer, the floor. You go to the office and you know where you’re heading, you get to your bench, and do your regular stuff, by this time you’ve got so used to everything that your brain can run on autopilot, and when it can it does, and in case you have a regular job that doesn’t have many fluctuations, then OMG you’ve run into deep autopilot mode. The other term that we could associate this with is the reactive mode, you’re basically reacting to stuff not pro-actively acting on it. But don’t be hard on yourself because it’s not your fault. It’s the design of work that we’ve been told to live by.
But what happens when you tweak it? Everything changes.
Yes, although it might seem like a small change to change your surrounding from time to time but it has positive effects on your brain. When you change your place of work, it can be your seat, your cubicle, go out on the stairs and work (I do that and it’s when I get the best ideas) your brain becomes aware and shifts from autopilot mode to a conscious mode where you regain control.
New setting makes it inquisitive and pulls the learner strings, now your brain thinks in slightly different patterns and when it’s external appeal increases, it automatically betters in the internal things, i.e., the work. You get better and more creative ideas to get your job done.
So, what are you waiting for? Try it and tell us how it went.
PERFECTION – LEAVE IT
“Perfectionism is not the quest for the best. It is the pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells that nothing we do will ever be good enough? That we should try again.”
– Julia Cameron
Wow! Nailed it.
I suffer from this, I literally test my things a zillion time even those that have zero value, that would burst without any sound. This is the reason of my I’ll start that from tomorrow, I’ve been putting things off for the fear of average or even ok, oh who am I kidding, even good is reserved for tomorrow. But does that mean my work is great? I don’t think so, not yet. But I’ve learned that perfection is a myth, it’s a false target chasing which we only get lost, and the only gold that we are left with is wasted time and energy.
So, why take stress? Why waste time? I know its value, although late but I realized it, time is valuable use it for good not perfect.
ROUND THE CLOCK
Oh, I didn’t even realize where that year went? This month slipped so fast? Familiar with these? I am, I have heard them and used them. But what if we were not so fortunate or unfortunate to have the pleasure of using them whenever faced with a difficult question or when not wanting to face the reality that we might have wasted our time?
Yes, then we might be motivated to do better with our time. So, how can we become conscious of our time expenditure?
We make timesheets. This is what we do at Dexciss, we make timesheets of the activity we did against the time we took for it. It helps us evaluate our use of time. How much of it is going to productive activities and how much of it goes to less productive or wasteful work?
When you are aware of your time expenses you are aware of your movements and where you’re heading, this consciousness leads to better productivity and getting more done of what matters.
It’s a simple exercise not practiced by most people. Brainstorming for ideas can help you get to your best way of presenting the same information. Why settle for the regular given ways? Experiment, explore, find the better way, find the best way.
How I brainstorm ideas?
I plug in my earphones, play the kind of music I wish to zone out in, and visit that space in my head and when focused on the kind of world I wish to represent through my ideas, music acting as a catalyst transports me there and I come back with something awesome.
That’s my process, you can find yours or give it a try. I think music has magical powers to push boundaries and connect us with people, stories, and a different world altogether. So, use it to your advantage or do doodling for ideas. It’s another great way that has piqued my interest nowadays. Put everything out in an interesting way, let no filter bound you, write without filters, put out the words that are in line with the kind of ideas you want, scribble, do whatever you can and come out with something amazing.
But how can brainstorming help you in getting more done in a day?
Well, most of the time we are just doing things on autopilot, we are not thinking much before acting, with brainstorming we come to terms with possibilities, with variety, it opens our mind to new ideas, and that gives a fillip to our productivity as well as our mental health, and in the process we find better ways to do things.
MAKE SURE IT’S A GOOD NIGHT
In this fast-paced world, amidst the whirlwind, the most underrated yet the most deserving thing is our sleep. Some people give it least precedence and promote 3-4 hours of sleep and rest devoted to work. But research tells us otherwise, even 9 hours of work is hugely overrated, I find myself being productive only for a couple of hours others are merely passed by with less productive endeavors.
And research has shown that it not only leads to a plunge in our productivity but also affects our health. Marianna Virtanen, a researcher at the Finnish Institute Of Occupational Health, found clear correlations in her research between overworked employees and impaired sleep and depressive symptoms.
And there have been studies that show a correlation between overworking and type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
So, working longer hours is in no way the answer to how can we get more done in a day?
According to Parkinson’s Law, “The work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”
That means if you have 8 hours working time then you’ll take those 8 hours to complete certain tasks whereas if you were given 6 for the same work most likely you’ll still finish the work in that time.
So, working longer is not the key to better productivity, working smart is. Give yourself enough rest to recover so that you can come back with power and complete focus.
According to various studies, you need 8 hours of sleep to be at your best.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
Maybe you’re great at multitasking, or let’s say maybe you think you’re great at multitasking because as humans our brain is not wired to multitask and in actuality, it ain’t multitasking, all it’s doing is jumping from one action to another giving minimal focus to each one and letting nothing happen effectively.
This again takes us to point 2 the Pomodoro technique, in a way, it’s about singular attention. The crux for me is not the timing but the focus, time can change but one thing that has no space for movement is the focus.
So, avoid juggling between tasks. Instead, have them done one by one, you’ll be surprised by how much you can achieve in less time. Yes, we think multitasking helps us get things done faster but it’s nothing more than a fallacy, in fact, the opposite is true, both in terms of quantity and quality.
Our brain can only remember as much as 4-5 pieces of information at a given time and it is quick on clearing the clutter and leaving you with more blank spaces to infuse more information. So, if you have lost great ideas to human memory than join the team. I’ve had many cases when I got OMG ideas and because I am too lazy to note them down or say I took too much pride in my memory powers I lost them, omg.
So, if not me, listen to Richard Branson, even he in his blog suggested keeping a diary or notebook with you where you pen down every great idea that passes you by.
What do I use? I use google docs. It’s always with me, I can access it from anywhere, anytime, it’s simple, quick, and effective.
So, now even if I meet good ideas at mid sleep, I wake up, grab my phone, open docs, note it down, smile, and go back to sleep.
How does it help?
Well, ideas can be about anything. It can be a project that you’ve been on for days but can’t get it through, and then one idea changes everything or forget ideas it can be some information note it down. What’s important is to not let everything rest on your memory because it can fail you sometimes. So, make notes of all the important stuff, and get it done.
CUT DOWN THE MEETINGS
Your brain loses concentration after 10-15 minutes of speech or presentation. That’s why Ted Talks are generally kept short. So, if it’s a presentation or any other idea that you need to discuss over the meeting make sure to cut it down to its simplest form.
Remove all the unnecessary clutter that fills in to push distraction. Make the meeting’s goal and key points clear way before the meeting and keep to it. Have a set time of 20 minutes or less for the meeting and if possible, do it like Steve Jobs and many other great entrepreneurs outside the box, i.e, outside a conference room. If you’re confined in a box that’s where your thinking is subconsciously, let it fly open, do it while walking, in the park outside, in the corridor, or anywhere else but the conference room. Challenge convention and you push yourself to think outside the box.
THE 2 MINUTE RULE
It’s a simple rule. If there’s anything that can be done in 2 minutes, do it. You’ll be surprised by how much can be done. We procrastinate for small things and make them one big pile of small activities that look daunting.
Yes, I get it even Maggie doesn’t cook in 2 minutes. But if you look at it there are a lot of things that do come under this timeframe like making your bed immediately after waking up, washing the dishes after the meal is over, putting clothes in laundry immediately after changing them, reading that article, sending the email, calling that person, etc can be done right now. The idea basically is to get going because once you do the time becomes irrelevant.
Most of the time we are afraid to take that first step and once taken, it progresses organically.
Get the small stuff cleared and you’ll have the list look less nightmarish.
NO, I WON’T WRITE THIS POINT
Just kidding. But it’s not a bad word and definitely not a bad thing to say. I am talking about “No” in case you didn’t get it. It’s been infused in our thinking that when we say no to someone’s behest we disrespect them or demean them in some way but that’s completely erroneous. By taking in too much of the unnecessary you stifle yourself to extreme depths. Coming out of where is a big task and that fresh air is a big dream. So, take in the work that’s in your capacity and that truly adds to your productivity. For others, gift “no”.
To end this I’d like to quote Roald Dahl,
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole
world around you because the greatest secrets are
always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those
who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
Believe in the magic of life, nothing is impossible, if you can think it, you can do it. Be your best version.
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