Today’s topic is about you increasing your productivity.
Every once in a while we all need a little help in this area. I know I at least do. To start off this article with a little bit of honesty, I will accept and proudly declare that I am a procrastinator – Tan Tan Taaaan.
Nothing to be ashamed of if you are too.
I often have days or moments where I am just doing everything but what I should be doing. And I will admit that YouTube is my biggest trap. I will start off with music just to end up on videos like ¨How to make your own fan? ¨. Yeah, I don’t even know how I end up there. I suppose it’s just about my focus and motivation.
But, in case you are a procrastinator like myself and you feel bad about procrastinating each time here is a little bit of truth coming your way:
Every person procrastinates.
We can’t really get out of it, and those people who say they don’t procrastinate, well, let’s just say they aren’t being honest with themselves.
So let’s go back to basics as always.
I can tell you that procrastination is by definition delaying, avoiding, postponing or ignoring the task in front of you, because well frankly, you want to do something more fun instead. The Ancient Greeks called it Akrasia. Well, that certainly sounds a lot more poetic than procrastination! According to the data, I found the Ancient Greeks defined Akrasia by our own lack of self-control or the behavior of acting against our own better judgment. So it is quite obvious that by doing that, we often use excuses like:
The reason why I do this is because I am a perfectionist and I don’t want to start something or do it halfway. I want it to be perfect.¨
¨I just perform better under pressure, so I will wait.¨
That right there my friend is our lack of self-control and our poor judgment. We aren’t really seeing the full picture or being honest with ourselves. Just like the person who says they never procrastinate. It is actually the opposite. It should be simple for us, I mean by doing the action we are trying to postpone now, we would shorten the effort later and do it in smaller periods of time. So why do we wait and do it for the longer period of time? Why are we postponing the inevitable? Why don’t we just do it? And why do we wait until the last minute?
Because it is easier!
Tim Urban explained it very well in his TEDtalk a few years back. He called this his theory of procrastination. He defined that we actually do this because of the Procrastinating monkey that lives and enjoys being in our brain. Well this monkey let’s call him George, loves instant gratification instead of rational thinking and work. Can’t really blame him, we all do! Sorry, can’t speak for the rest of the people, but I know I do.
I can see it when I have a new TV show to watch and a bunch of work I have to do. I mean it is just one episode what harm can it do?
Apparently, it can take away my time for easy and quick work and turn it into long-lasting torture. Well now I am just being dramatic, but it sure feels like so when I am in that situation. Anyway…
Based on Tim Urban’s TED talk we now know we have also a way of making that monkey stop having so much influence and actually letting us work. Sadly that comes up when our deadline is at stake so the only thing that scares George, is the Panic Monster who wakes up when we have short time to deal with that we needed to way before. And of course, this is the system we function with. Sometimes it’s a good system other times it is the reason for our discomfort and stress. Which one would you say prevails in your life?
It is safe to say that all this procrastination story is not the point of this article but why am I saying all of this? Well because procrastination and productivity often come in pair. Meaning: my lack of productivity and my lack of motivation can often and is often connected to me procrastinating.
That is why I will talk a little more about motivation before I start the best ways to increase your productivity. Why? Well because it is all connected.
See if you had the motivation to do something, you wouldn’t be procrastinating, and if you weren’t procrastinating as much you would have more productivity. Now I am not saying this is the only reason why you aren’t productive enough, but I am saying it can be one of the reasons. So bear with me, please!
What does being motivated mean to you?
To me, personally, it is having the drive to do something and first and foremost, wanting to do something straight away without procrastinating on it for hours.
Now, of course, I have to point out that not all procrastination is bad, and if you find yourself procrastinating due to some personal off day, I would have to suggest to take that time for yourself and just let some steam off before you start a new project.
Way too often in today’s age, people deal with a lot of work, only to go home and be expected to work more. So in time all of this loses its magic and work just becomes dull and boring and we simply lose productivity. We work because we have to, not because we want to.
Let me ask you a question: if you got all the money in the world tomorrow, would you still go to work?
A lot of people answered ¨No¨ to this question. And a lot of those people actually don’t have the motivation to fulfill their work duties. Something is wrong with that. And again, I am not saying all work is fun, on the contrary, work takes effort and time and dedication.
So to be more exact: people lack their inner drive and inner motivation which is also called intrinsic motivation. This explains how people who have their drive coming from within, like feeling fulfilled, wanting a richer life, or any other reason why they do what they do that is based on their feelings or ideas versus doing it for the money, to make your parents proud, because you have to, because you want to make someone else happy etc. Doing it all for the money will often be a short road.
Successful people actually don’t care about money (yeah they have it, but they didn’t get to where they are by doing it for the money), they are where they are today because they put the effort and their inner motivation to the stake and worked their asses off.
So based on all of this, let’s find out which ways are the best to increase your productivity!
Now I am a proud multitasker. And this one is really hard for me sometimes, but quitting multitasking is actually the best thing you can do for your productivity.
By multitasking, you are dividing your attention to more tasks and activities and not actually fulfilling any with a 100%. This will also take your time away from what you would and should be doing with a full attention. The focus you can have on one task will let you push the drive and motivation into fulfilling it and will actually be a motivational boost once you are finished. This will give you a feeling of being proud of yourself because you finished one task and will allow you to move to another knowing you actually finished something useful in your day.
FOCUS ON INTRINSIC MOTIVATION
Internal or intrinsic motivation as I mentioned, involves engaging in a behavior and performing an activity for its own sake rather than the desire for some external reward. Simple right? Here is an example:
Playing some sport because you like it and because you think it is fun.
Even though receiving a reward is amazing to a certain degree, it is actually better to have a firm base before you decide to build a house, sorta say.
Like I said, doing it for the money will only take you so far. Internal or intrinsic motivation on the other hand, comes naturally from yourself and your desire to do something just for the sake of it.
You wanna go for a walk? Just do it. You don’t actually want to go for a walk because it will help you have better legs, but because you enjoy the walk.
So to be more exact, successful people all over the world have said that our biggest successes in life, come from a steady flow of internal motivation that constantly feeds us energy and will to do something, to plan a strategy we are going to stick to rather than just give up after 5 out of 10km triathlon.
And yes I will admit doing it for the money or what other external reason you have is going to help you possibly begin, but the flow of it will end when you reach a certain height, so be prepared to work on what actually motivates you from within.
PERFECTIONISM DOESN’T HELP
Another thing I have a lot of issues with, still. Being a perfectionist. And I know a lot of people use this on their job interviews thinking it will get them the job just because they said they are perfect but to certain employers, this actually shows them you can lose track of time by doing something you don’t need to be so focused on.
Perfection as you know it, doesn’t exist. Not in this life at least. So losing track of your time and wasting your productivity juice on being perfect is not good. Rather than wasting time chasing after this magical illusion, dedicate your focus to finishing the task at hand the best you can and continue to the next one. Like I mentioned before: finishing a task will increase your productivity way more than losing time and doing it ¨perfectly¨. It’s better to complete the task and move it off your plate. If this helps you: you can always go back to it, once you have finished all your to-do lists.
CHANGE OF SCENERY
Now this one is what all the big successful people are advising today. Working in an office can be boring and lead to decreasing of motivation and productivity. The psychologists agree. It is actually shown that people who stay in one place during the whole day have less motivational juice and fewer productivity boosts than people who go for a walk or to the gym to clear their head.
You don’t actually have to go work to the other side of the city or actually go to the gym, but you can find the activity that helps your head be clear once you do get in the zone for work or other activities. Just try and get your blood pumping and it will help with the extra needed energy flow.
I understand this one is hard since we live in a world where there are so many ways to be interrupted, but for the sake of those 90 productive minutes, you will dedicate yourself to work, turn off the sound and move your phone, tablet, away from you. If you have to use your computer to work, actually forbid yourself to use any of the distracting social media networks.
Also, working in those 90 minutes intervals will help your brain juices flow better and it will increase your productivity. After those 90minute sets, you are allowed to take a break. Why do you actually think classes function this way? 90minute class, 15-minute breaks. Yep, productivity juices are a thing.
So turn off all notifications, sounds, social media, step away from YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest or whatever else there is, and just focus on a task at hand. I promise the productivity will flow a lot faster once you have only one task, distraction-free, in front of you!