Happy World Productivity Day to all you hard-working folk. Today is the one day of the year you are obligated to work harder than usual because some random person you’ve never met decided productivity needed to be enforced. Thanks, whoever you are.
Being productive is like taking hard drugs is made to look in the movies. You spend time, energy and money chasing the dragon only for the experience to be less satisfying than you expected. Every so often you’ll hit that sweet spot, but apart from that, you’ll walk away feeling like you’ve been short-changed at Disneyland.
Productivity isn’t so much elusive as it is subjective. We can accomplish loads in one day and still feel like it isn’t enough, whereas some days we do little more than scratch our bellies and eat donuts and feel pretty pleased with ourselves. Unfortunately, those feel-good productivity days are few and far between.
Productivity is the proverbial slippery bar of soap, but there’s more than one way to train yourself to crack on and smash your to-do list this World Productivity Day.
1. Turn Big Tasks Into Bite-Size Ones
You’ve got a big job to do, and to say it’s daunting is the same as declaring that the Irish are prone to a tipple now and then. So for goodness sake, don’t do it all at once. Carve up that monstrous task into smaller chunks and enjoy that feel-good sensation whenever you’ve ticked the boxes.
As satisfied as we anticipate feeling after tackling the big jobs, the truth is, mostly we feel exhausted and demotivated. So do yourself a favor and bust out that chainsaw!
2. Change Up Tasks Regularly
In the same vein as completing smaller tasks, if we tackle something entirely different after completing a small job, we stand a chance of staying motivated. When it comes to work or chores, monotony is not your friend. Doing similar tasks one after the other is sure to suck the joy out of your work – unless you love mowing the lawn that much.
Once you’ve completed a job, whether you liked doing it or not, make sure the next thing you do is as unrelated as possible. You’ll find your motivation and drive might even build momentum, instead of dying a miserable death at the bottom of a bucket of window-cleaner.
3. Use an Excel Spreadsheet
If you’re like me, you’ll know exactly what you need to do that day until you have to decide what to do first. Welcome to the blank mind they talk about in meditation class. If this is you, open up a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (or weird Apple Mac equivalent.) Part of being productive is not wasting time figuring out what you need to do and when while you’re trying to do them.
By using a spreadsheet, you can list all your tasks for the day or week ahead of time, pop down an estimated time for each task and go to sleep with a clear mind. When you wake up, your day will already be organized and ready for you to get stuck in. Lists work for some people, but if you can’t stand the sight of a to-do list, a spreadsheet is the way forward.
4. Use Timers
We all know what happens when we’re working, whether we’re enjoying ourselves or not: we check our phones. Not even just to check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and every other app under the sun, but to re-check them all again just in case we missed something while we were checking all the other apps.
The truth is, more often than not, we get more satisfaction from our phones than from our work. They’re designed to keep us glued to the screens, and we can eat up hours of time just by checking something we thought would take five minutes.
So, here’s what you do. Set a timer (yes, on your phone) for maybe an hour or half an hour, and commit to getting your task done in that time frame, or at least as much as you can do. When we know that the job is going to end, we are much less likely to reach for our phones when a notification pops up.
Having a productive day doesn’t have to be difficult. With practice, every day can be a productive day. Cut up those tasks, check your spreadsheets, and set your alarms, you’re about to have one hell of a week!