What does it mean to be productive? How can we be more productive in a day? This seems like an epic, lifelong struggle many of us deal with on a daily basis. Whether you’re trying to not do that report at the last minute or feeling like you’re always guilty for playing when you think you should be working it all revolves around being productive during a small part of the day. Follow me as I explore some ways that we can conquer the fearsome, Productivity Monster…
Don’t let the productivity monster eat your day away.
So this is an issue we all deal with, a constant need to be more productive and get more done in the day. However first let’s ask ourselves just truly how much of our off-time is spent in an efficient way? If we spend the whole Sunday watching the whole series of Game of Thrones we’re probably not being very productive in our off time, and yet it seems all the attention is towards being productive at work.
Well wait a sec, why not be productive in both scenarios?
Being productive has been talked about in many books and other articles, and they all attempt to resolve the same problem. Being productive is getting the most important things done consistently. It’s about following a set speed and not going to fast or too slow.
Productivity is important in all aspects of life. If I use my Sunday to clean and exercise then I’ll feel refreshed for work on Monday. If I neglect these personal responsibilities then that could drag into my work life and cause negative performance impacts. So the most productive thing to do in this case would be to structure my entire day to create an efficient means of working through any task, not just work related tasks.
What is willpower?
Think of willpower like a muscle, the more you use it, the less you have. Me? I like to think of it like the battery bar on my phone. (Now on a side note, a study conducted showed that you have more willpower if you think you have infinite willpower) Now if sleep recharges the battery then I’m going to have more juice at the start of my day.
What is the solution to my willpower problem?
If there was some magical pill that solved this problem then we’d be in a much different world. Unfortunately we’re just not there yet to a future where infinite productivity could work. (Not saying that’s a good thing.) I’ve personally found 3 methods to cope with this willpower, (ie procrastination) problem and they’re quite simple and easy to follow through on.
1. DO THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EARLY IN THE DAY.
This is one of the best tips anybody could ever give you honestly, because it’s far easier to continue working on something you don’t like doing earlier in the day, you’re just able to sustain that activity for a longer period of time. Many famous people wake up earlier in the morning and do something important before they even check their email. As commonly the further you get into the day, the increased likelihood unexpected tasks will creep into your schedule and you’ll find yourself with less time than you planned for. Getting the most important thing out of the way (or started) first will prevent this from becoming an excuse to do it later.
2. COME TO THE CONSENSUS THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO “FEEL” LIKE DOING WHAT YOU NEED TO DO.
This took me a while, as when you’re a solo entrepreneur for as long as I’ve been you eventually reach a point in your success where you don’t feel like doing much. Things sort of run themselves and there is nobody sitting above you forcing you to work, or giving you deadlines. Unless you have a huge passion inside that is pushing you further it can be hard to motivate yourself to do the monotonous, boring things day in, day out. So often in school we’d not do something until the very last minute because we’re motivated by an external force to get something done. Without that sometimes you’ll find yourself procrastinating until such a deadline either comes or it may never come. So once you come to an understanding that feeling has nothing to do with what you know you should do can help you overcome boundaries and start on something that you’ve been delaying for a long time.
3. BREAK IT DOWN INTO BITS.
The majority of time when we think of projects or tasks we think we have to do them all at once, but this is a fallacy. The best way, and sometimes the only way is to work on it little by little and come to a final piece that was put together overtime. You can do that by tricking your brain into thinking you’re going to do something ridiculously easy whereas it being something that your brain could simply not say no to. Originally I allotted myself 10 minutes to write this blog post and here I am a full 30 minutes after I started and I’m still typing. Why? I still feel like walking away but as humans we have a natural tendency to finish what we started. This is called the Zeigarnik Effect.
Side Note about Motivational Drugs
Scientists have been working hard to figure out how to increase our willpower for a long time. We’ve looked in many different faucets of life to attempt to try and find the best trick we can all use. Short of implementing some “Mind Hacks” many external consumables whether be drugs or food have a nil impact on increasing willpower. (ie. Coffee doesn’t make you want to write a book, just gives you the energy to get through it). In my own experience I once thought that ADD drugs like Adderall or Concerta were helpful in boosting Motivation. Many kids ask about it but the reality is such an amphetamine effect only helps for the first few times before it slowly disappears. Drugs in this class are only meant to prevent you from opening up Facebook once you feel like you hit a mental roadblock (ie: distraction). Point being, no drug, food or technique is ultimately going to solve our limited willpower problem. It’s something that we all need to live with and figure out how to cope with in our own way.