Productivity is something that we could all probably be better at. Personally I’m terrible at it, if procrastination was in the Olympics I reckon I’d be a good chance to place for a medal at the very least. I regularly leave things to the last minute or find reasons why I can’t do them, even when I was studying for exams at university I took an abnormally keen interest in household chores instead of hitting the books (I ended up cramming and just scraping by).
The thing about being productive is that it is hard to do. There are just too many steps involved in achieving goals associated with things like managing your personal finances, especially since you have to be productive all day at work to start with.
I’ve decided that I definitely need to try harder at being more productive, so I’m going to share a few things I’m working on that might help you too.
Productivity and The Space-Time Continuum
Did you know that an object in motion actually experiences time at a slower rate than one at rest? Einstein realized this in his special theory of relativity and while it applies more readily to things moving at the speed of light, it’s a
nerdy different way to think about your own time. I’m going to take this theory, bend it a little and leap to this vaguely linked conclusion:
You can have more time than everyone else in the world if you just keep moving!
Ok, so we are probably talking nanoseconds at the very best, but productivity really is just about how you view the time you have. If you place importance on something and are willing to allocate time to it, then that makes you productive. Apply that to as many areas of your life as possible and you are in business.
I think the trick to increasing your productivity is knowing that you could use your time more effectively to begin with. The trouble most of us have is that we only want to make time for the things that are fun, easy, or otherwise offer fast rewards. Unfortunately it’s usually the things that you aren’t doing that actually make the biggest difference in the end.
How to Find More Time
Time is something that we all want more of, but even moving super fast you can only squeeze so much more out of a day. I bet you think you already do a pretty good job juggling all of your day-to-day demands. I’m not going to judge, you probably do, but that isn’t usually enough to achieve the things you really want in life. What we really need is to find even more time. I bet I can find it for you, but you have to decide if you really want to give it up.
What’s in it For You?
First off, there is absolutely no point doing anything unless you are going to get something out of it, seriously. I can’t think of anything that this doesn’t apply to, but feel free to prove me wrong by leaving a comment ;). Before you even start trying to make time to do something, think about what you are going to get out of it. Sometimes the reward isn’t always obvious, so it is your job to keep it at the forefront. If you can’t see the reward, you won’t allocate the time.
Sleeping is a Waste of Time
Yes, I’ll concede we all need sleep, but I know for a fact I could be more effective in this department. Now days I have a toddler alarm, primed and set to wake me up at ungodly hours of the morning, so I don’t really get to waste time sleeping in. What tends to happen instead is that I fall into bed completely trashed, not long after the alarm is reset every night (aka, the baby goes to sleep). Unfortunately the evening is the best time to get things done (I’ve conceded waking up early to the baby, she is far more consistent than I am), so I need to find ways to keep firing without burning out. Here are some things that help me fight fatigue and that you might like to try:
- Set yourself a bed time and waking time, don’t take more or settle for less. Experiment a little (I can recommend the 4 Hour Body as a good resource for this) to find the number of hours you need to face the next day refreshed and alert, then try and stay consistent.
- Be conscious of your diet. I’m not saying go on one, but know that what you eat has a huge effect on your energy levels and also the quality of your sleep (again, some great content in the 4 Hour Body).
- Do stuff that keeps you pumped. It might be more fun to do the good stuff first, but try to save it for later in the day and do the boring stuff when you have the most energy. The odds are very good that I will choose sleeping over filing my receipts, but I might stay up to write an awesome blog post that gets me and hopefully lots of other people inspired.
Public Transport is the Best Productivity Tool Ever
A lot of people don’t like public transport, but I like to use it to my advantage. Instead of day dreaming until I reach my stop, I use the time I have all to myself to do things like:
- Making lists of things to do and setting reminders in my calendar
- Reading books, magazines or the paper (preferably business or finance related)
- Reading emails or online content
- Listening to podcasts
As you can probably tell, I’m a technology geek. I love working with a mobile device to make the most of any time I get, but even without one you can easily do some of these, plus anything else you need to find time for. You might just like to try actively thinking about and prioritising your goals or dreams. Whatever you do, try using the time you have to yourself to your advantage.
Television is Your Enemy
I have a love-hate relationship with television. I love tuning out every once and a while and watching a good movie, or learning about something I’m interested in. What I hate is how completely hypnotising it can be if you give it just a moment of your time when you are really trying to get something done. The networks are really good at grabbing your attention, hell even the adverts are pretty good these days. Don’t succumb, anything you want to see can be recorded, hired or downloaded and watched back at another time. If you really have a strong need to watch a show on television, try multi-tasking at the very least and sort through your shoe box of receipts or review your insurance premiums online at the same time. Boring? Think of it as a trade off, you will thank yourself later.
Shut Down and Do The Things You Love
If we spent all of our time being productive, we’d live very boring lives. Allow yourself some time to switch off and do fun stuff like a hobby, some sport or other exercise and most importantly have fun with your family and friends. If you are anything like me, it is likely that you will end up thinking about how you can do more of these things, which actually brings you back to being more productive in the first place.
Hopefully I’ve given you something to think about, what I would really like now are your thoughts and ideas about how you stay productive.
Image by sevenphonecalls // mehmet erdoğan