Have you ever found yourself wondering how an entire business day has passed and many of your major goals for the day have gone untouched?
If so, you’re not alone.
Modern technology has birthed incredible innovations, while also draining us of our mental capital – the currency we spend on each and every activity we engage.
As our computers, phones, tablets, and other devices have matured, the companies that create the hardware and software are in a bitter war with one another to reap as much of your mental currency as possible. They are mindfully creating apps, social media platforms, and web pages to be “sticky.”
All of this noise comes with a cost, of course, but its neither the responsibly of the manufacturers to reign themselves in, nor is it in their best interest.
This obligation should fall on the user.
It’s been a journey for me to understand how my mental currency, when spent correctly, can create my desired output. I often fell into the trap of putting out every fire that appeared before me, until I realized that some fires will put themselves out.
While the following list is far from comprehensive, it is a primer for getting more from your day, eliminating wasteful distractions, and creating a peaceful, productive workspace for yourself.
Understand how your brain works
Multi-taking is a myth. It can cost you 40-50% of your daily productivity. We often get caught in a feedback loop, which is the process of constantly checking emails, social media notifications, and texts. These items deliver a small dose of dopamine each time we receive something, no matter its true value. This encourages you to continue the cycle of checking. This cons us into believing we are getting more done than we actually are.
Establish healthy boundaries within your work day
You knowing the benefits of doing focused, deep work, doesn’t mean everyone else does. Co-workers, bosses, and clients all may demand instant response, it’s up to you to establish boundaries and provide a clear reason why. When confronted with such a person, simply explain that in order for you to perform at an optimum level, you must give each task your undivided attention. If that means that their request must wait, so be it.
And do not be afraid to set boundaries on your work tools, too. Set a goal of ONLY checking emails and texts up to 3 times a day – morning, early afternoon, and before leaving work. This is more than enough times to stay abreast of what’s going on and give really important tasks your full attention.
Disconnect and reconnect
Studies have shown that by turning off or silencing our phones after 6pm every day has a direct impact on our happiness and ability to rejuvenate our minds. I use an app called Quality Time, which locks my phone at 7pm each night. I also can white label family or friends, who may contact me in an emergency, so I am always there for them. But my email client, web browser, and apps all shut down.
Use the 80/20 rule
Take a pen and paper and write down your weekly responsibilities. Then grade each one on its true value – Grade A for most valuable, Grade B for moderate, Grace C for least. Grade A should be goals/tasks that drive revenue, performance, and personal fulfillment. These objectives should be at the top of your agenda each day. Grade B can be done after A, and Grade C should be deleted or delegated.
Remember 80% of your success is driven by 20% of your activities. Do the 20% first!
Work in Short Bursts
This is one I love but am not great at: Utilize the Pomodoro Method, which is a technique of working aggressively for 25 min, then take a 5 minute break. Time spent + Aggression = Productivity.
You can set a timer for 25 min using this Chrome Extension. Work hard until the bell and then take a break. Repeat.
These recommendations are just a start. Many more time hacks are available with a quick Google search. Just don’t spend too much time web surfing. There’s work to do!