Culture and Lifestyle

Becoming Productive

A lot of people like being busy, but being busy is different from being productive. In fact, they are on different spectrums. Being busy connotes doing anything to give the impression of doing something. One could be busy without making any progress with work or even life. Being productive, however, is performing a series of actions with a set goals in mind.

The goal might be as small as making sure your kitchen is spick-and-span, or as large as trying to overtake Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest man. The steps that you take, actions you perform, and moves you make towards ensuring the fruitfulness of your dreams is productivity. Here are a few tips to help your productivity level skyrocket:

1. Get Some Sleep: This might be a controversial tip as there are countless videos circulating the internet of people testifying to the sacrificing of sleep as being the backbone of their success. I think this can be quite misleading. According to research, the adult body requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Anything less than what is recommended means that your body will be functioning at a level that is below optimal.

A little common sense here. If your body will not function at peak levels because you are not getting enough sleep, it stands to reason that you will be bound to make unnecessary mistakes as your brain will not be functioning at the highest possible capacity. In that case, you will most probably sit down to work but will not get anything done. A good night’s rest equals a productive day ahead.

2. Exercise: This point is one that has been made so much that it should not bear reiterating. But it would surprise you the number of people that still do not adhere to this advice. A wrong notion is that exercise has to be streamlined to a rigid timetable and to certain poses and actions.

Whereas exercise is actually any activity that gets your heart rate up, makes your blood pump, and will essentially make you feel good in the long run, exercising could include running, taking a walk, walking the dog, chasing the kids around, dancing, cleaning the house, and a host of other mundane chores and tasks.

3. Don’t Skip Meals: Some people tend to assume that skipping meals is a test of strength and endurance. Well, unless you are practising for when you get lost in the Sahara, or on an island with no food, I do not think starving yourself should be your test of endurance. When you do not eat, you are liable to lose focus more easily, get easily tired and just be distracted all day. All these signs are your body’s way of communicating its need for sustenance. Eating regular and healthy meals help to keep your concentration on a high.

4. Organise Your Day/Plan Ahead: Telling you toget a piece of paper and put down everything you plan to achieve for the day might seem Trite. but it actually works. When you put down a list of goals to achieve, then your brain is streamlined to achieving those goals. In essence, you have given yourself a direction. Start with the overall result you want to achieve, then break down the tasks required to get that result. At the end of this exercise, you will see that you have mapped out a plan for getting your work done.

5. Schedule in Breaks Too: It is common for us to get in the zone of productivity, and we are enjoying it so much that time gets away from us. Truth is, to sustain your productivity, you need to take regular breaks as well. These breaks give your brain time to stop being so focused on a particular task and help you take in the world around you. On your breaks, you could play a game, take a walk, call friends and family, maybe even watch a movie. It is recommended to take 20-minute breaks at 90-minute intervals for optimum productivity.

6. Eliminate Distractions While You Work: Imagine working in a construction zone, or always having to micromanage others while working. Annoying, right? This takes a toll on your productivity as your focus will continue to be broken as you work. For this reason, you should have a dedicated workspace, as well as dedicated working hours when/where people know not to disturb you.

In the same vein, mute all social media notifications and put your phone down with the screen facing down so you are not tempted to pick it up every time it blinks.

7. Incentivise Your Work: Give yourself incentives for achieving particular daily goals. For instance, you cannot watch your favorite show until a particular task is done. Or you promise yourself a bowl of ice cream with extra sauce if you can finish X Y Z tasks. This approach gives you something to look forward to as a reward for a job well done.

8. Embrace Technology: There are several apps and programmes that can take on mundane or repetitive tasks. Find them and use them to make your work easier. This will free up some time for you to perform the tasks you really love.

9. Learn to Delegate: Just like with using technology,you should learn to outsource tasks that reduce your productivity. If you do not have any business doing it, then do not do it. Pass on the task to someone else.

10. Cultivate Good Habits: Having good habits tend to help propel your productivity. Good habits like waking up early, exercising regularly, being on time are just a few key habits you need to be productive. These good habits will also tend to multiply, and before you know it, you are productive without even trying.

Ameenah Oke is a teacher, adventurer and blogger.

Categories: Culture and Lifestyle