If you have just a few extra hours, you can finally check everything off your to-do list, right? Chances are, if you have a few extra hours, you'll find a way to add more to your list. This thought process becomes stressful, tiring and exhausting. Productivity has more to do with speeding up your daily tasks and more to do with how you feel. In other words, the more mentally prepared we are for productivity, the more productive we will be.
When you're in the right mindset, you may find you can do more with less effort. Not only will you be more productive, but you will also be able to reduce stress. Let's turn to the art of psychology to understand what productivity is and how to be productive.
Did you know that the way you eat and think can have a huge impact on your health, happiness and productivity? Check out seven feel-good foods and six mindfulness practices that can improve your mental health .
Use these tips to boost your productivity
Many think psychology is only for treating mental health issues , but it has a lot to say about how we handle the small details of our daily lives. Here are eight productivity tips you can use to change your perspective and get more done.
1. Start organizing your thoughts
Where there is a cluttered mind, there is usually a cluttered environment… and vice versa. We often feel overwhelmed and unproductive because all we see in front of us is a bunch of unfinished tasks.
If you started here, take a deep breath. Maybe running errands doesn't help, in fact it could make things worse. It's best to start by clearing your mind and organizing your thoughts.
Research from the National Council on Aging shows that mental stress can lead to more stress and impulsive behaviors, neither of which help you be productive. So before you make your to-do list, why not take a moment to think, write, pray or meditate to organize your thoughts? If you start organizing your tasks clearly and purposefully, you will be more effective at planning.
2. Plan your day (or week).
You probably know the feeling. You work and work, but nothing seems useful. The reason for this is because the title is for believers.
Here's the truth: You will never achieve everything you can do. There is always something else or someone else telling you what to do. Instead of playing every day, you need a plan to help you achieve what matters most.
Planning your day or week is an exercise in mental discipline. This requires thinking about what is most important to you in your work or personal life and prioritizing those activities. Use it as an opportunity to check yourself in and make sure you have fun.
3. Start with something simple
If you're wondering how to be more productive, it's generally not a good idea to give up big, difficult tasks in favor of easier ones. In fact, research from Emory University shows that people who tend to take on bigger tasks are generally more productive.
However, when you're first trying to spin the wheel of productivity, it can be helpful to start with one or two simple tasks. By selecting a few quick items from the list, you will have a sense of accomplishment and enough motivation to get started.
However, once you've achieved these feats, don't get bogged down in easy tasks. Take that energy and use it to do something great.
4. Break large tasks into smaller ones
When you move on to more complex activities, it's easy to berate yourself for the effort required. When the finish line seems so far away, you may be tempted to give up or retreat into small tasks.
The trick here, according to research by Emory, is to break those big tasks into smaller ones. Take the end goal of your project and break it down into small, manageable steps that you can complete one at a time.
For example, you want to plan a big trip for your family. You can't do all the details at once, so try to break them down. Perhaps your first goal is to research routes and accommodations so you can budget for travel. So get started and move on to the next important task.
Breaking large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks gives you small moments of success and motivates you to keep going. Motivation is a key psychological factor in being productive.
5. Set boundaries for yourself and for others
In today's work environment, we are constantly distracted. This means that we need to make open workplace designs and digital communication tools available to our colleagues. But this constant presence can come at a high cost in terms of productivity.
A study from the University of California, Irvine shows how costly simple distractions can be. The results showed that after being distracted, the average worker took 23 minutes to regain focus.
What can we learn from this? If you want to be productive, it's important to minimize distractions to increase focus. And to do that, you need to set boundaries. Turn off notifications, log out of social networks, and notify colleagues when you're away. Try it for a week and see how much you can fill. When you take some time to relax with your coworkers, you may find that you feel less anxious.
6. Ask for help when you need it
Just because you're a productivity expert doesn't mean you don't need help from time to time. If you have a lot to do or want to do some tasks that are not your responsibility, involving others will help you be more productive now and in the future.
Let's say you're busy creating a spreadsheet you need for an important project. Your skill lies in designing presentations, not spreadsheets. If you hand your spreadsheet to an Excel-savvy colleague, they'll do their part better, allowing you to focus on making better presentations.
Finally, delegation can reduce stress and free up mental space so you can focus on the tasks that are most important to you.
7. Congratulate yourself when you achieve something
The road to becoming more productive is a long one and it takes a lot of mental strength to stay on that road. You will achieve many small and significant things along the way. Take time to acknowledge your successes from time to time.
If you don't stop praising yourself, you can focus too much on maintaining your productivity. Always looking for the next thing on your list, you can find yourself back where you started: stressed out and overwhelmed. Celebrate your successes to boost your motivation.
8. Keep things to yourself
The best way to avoid getting caught in the endless hamster wheel of productivity is to make sure you keep the things you love.
It's not just the breathing, though those are important. Research shows that happy employees are more productive. Prioritizing some of your hobbies and interests will help recharge your batteries and keep you motivated and focused, which will help you do your best when the time comes.
Following these psychological productivity tips can help you regain focus and get more done. Remember that productivity isn't everything. Fatigue can affect your physical and mental health , so it's important to keep an eye out for symptoms. When you're overwhelmed with your to-do list each day, it can be a good sign it's time to take a break. Ultimately, you'll be more productive in the long run.
Strong mental health is vital to your overall health and well-being. For more on keeping your mind sharp, check out these tips for reducing stress before bed and questions to ask your therapist .
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have about your health condition or health goals.
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