3 Simple But Proven Ways to Become More Productive

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There is absolutely no shortage of time-management practices and experts out there promising to increase your productivity levels. And, certainly, we all aspire to be more productive, feel more accomplished and ultimately achieve greater success than ever before.

Unfortunately, though, simply wanting these things or reading a time-management book by a favorite author is a small part of the equation and will get you only so far.

In order to truly become a more productive individual and accomplish more of what matters most, you must minimize distractions, instill new habits and have a great deal of self-discipline.

I believe that many of the problems we run into when it comes to maximizing our productivity stem from overcomplicating things — and those complications usually end up decreasing our productivity. I want to share with you three things that have worked exceptionally well for me when it comes to minimizing distractions and drastically elevating my productivity levels.

These three things are simple and straightforward but pack an incredible punch. As Stephen Covey once said, “What is common sense isn’t common practice.”

1. Cut out phone and email first thing in the morning.

At first, this daily practice, which has since blessed my life with an enormous amount of peace, happiness and focus, was hard for me to implement into my life. For the longest time, my morning ritual had consisted merely of turning over and grabbing my phone in order to open my email and check social media.

When you pick up your phone first thing in the morning, however, and dive deep into your inbox and check social media, you end up neglecting the most important thing: yourself. For the first two hours of each day, I make it a priority to leave my phone in a separate room. I go to work on myself first and foremost by getting in a great workout, reading for 20 minutes, meditating and then beginning to tackle my biggest task for the day. Only after all of those things are complete do I allow myself to check my phone.

2. Work in time blocks. 

This one may seem extraordinarily simple, but the profound difference it has made in my life is incredible. We live in a world that is full of constant distraction. Each and every one of us is getting pulled in a million different directions, all vying for our energy and attention. When you work in time blocks, though, you are forcing yourself for the next 20, 30, or 50 minutes to work on whatever project or task that is in front of you and not doing anything else.

No phone, no Facebook-checking: just you and your highly valuable project or task that must get finished. I personally work in 50-minute time blocks throughout the day, but you should feel free to implement whatever works best for you and your schedule. I personally haven’t found a more efficient way to eliminate distractions and get big things done than working in time blocks.

3. Utilize the power of breaks throughout your day.

The way I used to conduct myself was to work hard for long hours while never stopping to take a break. By the time I got home and went to bed, however, I would wake up the next morning not even knowing what had happened the previous day. As an entrepreneur and business owner, you’ll find that working hard and putting in long hours is mandatory at some point in your career, to get to where you want to go.

But this shouldn’t come at the expense of completely burning yourself out. When my 50-minute timer goes off, and I am working on an important project or task, I stand up and do one of three things.

I either take a walk outside for 10 minutes, practice deep breathing for 10 minutes or perform some type of stretching routine before I return back to work. Just a 10- or 15-minute break doing one of these three things helps me to release whatever tension has been built up and develop a new focus for when it’s time to work again.

Whether you take a walk, practice deep breathing or perform stretches is entirely up to you. The most important thing is that multiple times throughout the day, you should take a break from your work and find different ways to recharge and come back even stronger.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Stop Paying Attention to the Non-Urgent in Your Life. Learn How to Single-Task.

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People are always talking about multitasking, and they think it’s a talent — but I think it’s counterproductive to success. It means you’re dividing your attention into a million parts. If you’re talking on the phone to a client but doing some kind of household chore or even reading a magazine while talking, you are not fully engaging your client. You’re not in the flow of the conversation.

Your client deserves better, don’t you think? In the same way, your life deserves better. The ability to single-task — to give one thing your undivided attention — is one of the keys to true productivity. Not the kind of productivity where you knock off 20 items from your to-do list while still managing to run 15 miles and respond to 20 emails. Sure, that kind of productivity feels good.

But I’m talking about the kind of productivity where you actually achieve your goals, where you accomplish important and long-lasting things. It means finishing major projects rather than doing a million little things that don’t add up to anything lasting. It means quality productivity instead of quantity productivity.

Once you’ve learned to give your undivided attention to that one thing —  to laser-focus on the important projects —  you will automatically shift into the flow. That’s because flow is how you get them done. You block out all extraneous noise, all phone calls, all menial tasks, all interruptions, and you just focus. You are able to sit and focus on that one task long enough to complete it. When you can work in the flow, you can accomplish anything.

Getting consumed by tedious tasks and busy work is a major battle many of us face each day. Every morning when we get up, the first thing on our minds should be the projects and tasks that will ultimately give us the biggest return on energy (ROE). The reason why this is extremely difficult for most people to do is because often what gives us the biggest ROE and reward is also usually the hardest and most time-consuming of everything that we have to do.

Sending emails, talking on the phone, cleaning up your desk and moving from place to place might seem like you are getting a lot done, but as I stated above, there is a major difference between quality productivity and quantity productivity. If we all took the time to assess our current habits and schedules and pinpoint what is consuming most of our time and energy, we may be surprised at how much time and effort we give to the non-urgent things in our lives.

Even though multitasking may make you feel accomplished temporarily, it’s not a way to go about business or achieving your main goal. It’s nearly impossible to be a master at your craft and become the absolute best if you’re always focusing your efforts in 10 different ways. By shifting our priorities to the big tasks and projects that add extreme value to our goals, we begin to feel accomplished and deeply fulfilled — not just a person accomplishing a lot of busy work.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com