Productivity, productivity, productivity.
Our culture seems to be obsessed with how productive people are: on the job, in their educational pursuits, in the family, etc. Our culture is also rife with plenteous distractions that vie for our time hour after hour, day after day.
Fighting against the tide of distraction and overcoming the guilty pleasures of refreshing our Facebook a hundred times a day or looking at cat memes on our iPhone when we’re waiting for dinner can easily suck up so much of our day that we’re left with a paltry number of accomplishments at the end of each day.
Why do we give into the temptations to procrastinate and avoid following through on our responsibilities or desires?
Combatting the temptation of distraction and overcoming bad habits can make us healthier and happier – not to mention wealthier.
People who have mastery of self-control are more creative, productive, and content than those who whittle their time away with videos of skateboarding dogs and other time suckers.
Much – if not all – of our work is done in front of a computer these days.
Computers are amazing productivity enhancers that allow us to accomplish a whole lot more in a day than previous generations could ever imagine.
However, computers do come with their own drawbacks.
One of these is the easy ability to pop in and out of browser windows from activity to activity throughout the day. This can be a problem because it actually takes time to get into a task – or “flow” as some experts call it.
It can take up to a quarter of an hour to hit the sweet spot and get into the flow of a task.
But if you’re bouncing around from site to site throughout the workday, you might get to the end with little to show from it.
Prioritizing social media
Social media definitely has its time and place.
It can however, take too much of your time and creep into place it shouldn’t – your work computer, for example.
Some psychologists are starting to study the influence of social media on the individual and how the instant gratification of a like on a photo or comment from someone you like might have addictive properties that are very difficult to disengage from.
Give yourself a time and place to check your social media accounts when it won’t impact your workflow.
Maybe this should be reserved for your lunch break, after you’ve finished a particularly challenging assignment, or your entertainment as you wait for your breakfast to cook.
Letting email wait
Nothing puts a cramp in your workflow like the buzz of your phone with an incoming email. Clients – and pretty much everyone else – often treat email communication as an absolutely urgent form of communication that should grab your immediate attention.
Responding to every email as soon as you get it isn’t totally necessary.
People can wait for a response, even if you find it difficult to put off dealing with a problem once you’ve scanned the email to learn what’s going on.
Simply close your browser with your email client, mute notifications to your desktop, or stick your smartphone in a desk drawer while you deal with tasks and pencil in scheduled times for checking your email throughout the day.
Putting the phone away
There are times when you just don’t need your smartphone on hand.
When you’re spending time with family and friends, for example, it’s generally considered proper form to put your phone away and really listen to the people you’re hanging with IRL.
You simply don’t always need to snap that photo or Google the fact you and a friend are hotly debating.
Tech in bed
Additionally, keeping your phone, tablet, and laptop out of your bed are critically important to helping you get a good night’s sleep – which we all know is a key to increase productivity the next day.
Electronic screens emit a type of blue light that stimulates part of our brain that halt melatonin production.
This messes up your sleep for the night and can cause problems with falling asleep and staying asleep.
For best results, keep your tech toys out of your bed and make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep.
Healthy habits that promote productivity
The way you treat your body has many impacts on your productivity throughout the day. If you are active and eat healthily, you’ll feel better and experience better brain performance and creativity throughout the day.
Getting up early
Setting the alarm for an hour before the Weather Channel advises the sun will rise is a necessary evil for starting your day on a productive note and keeping it on track.
Even though you might hate rising early and argue that you’re not a morning person, research shows that everyone – yes that includes you – tends to have a period of intense focus and productivity first thing in the morning.
So invest in a coffee maker with a self-timer to brew you some joe, avoid hitting the snooze button, and hit the ground running every morning. Your future self will thank you.
If your day starts at 5AM and you’re go, go, going all day long, it may be difficult to find some time to stop and smell the proverbial roses.
That’s where meditation comes in.
Whether you have half an hour to chill in a tranquil room or not, incorporating micro meditation into your everyday activities can give you a mood and creativity boost.
We all know by now that the food we eat fuels us for good or evil.
Okay, maybe it’s not that drastic, but our bodies DO have certain reactions to food, so it’s always a good idea to fuel up with good things for good results.
Avoiding sugar rushes and crashes, for example, is a great way to help promote focus and fight off drowsiness while you’re working.
Overcoming mental blocks
The body has a certain level of control over our brain function and ability to focus, but sometimes our personality and mental state are to blame for our shortcomings.
There are some common challenges that many creatives deal with on a daily basis and must overcome in order to be more productive.
“You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t get started”. Maybe a parent, college advisor, or manager has told you this before. It’s true.
Perfectionism has held back countless brilliant ideas and creative minds because it paralyzes us into thinking that our ideas aren’t good/well-formed/polished/whatever enough to be put into motion.
But you never know until you do something whether it’ll succeed, so it’s best to just try and let things fall as they may. You’ll never know how good you are at something until you try it out for yourself.
If you’ve ever worked on a project with a deadline, you’re probably familiar with procrastination.
Not only does it kill productivity, but it kills the creativity that you might have unlocked if you’d just sat down and done whatever it was you needed to do in the first place.
One of the greatest lies of the modern mindset is that multitasking is a good thing. It’s not.
Multitasking destroys your focus and productivity like nothing else. Instead of trying to juggle 20 things at once, focus on one task at a time.
You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish in a day.
Getting on the right track
Smashing your bad habits only works if you replace them with good ones.
Think about the ways you can turn time wasters into times of intense productivity. Even breaking one bad habit and replacing it with a good one can make a world of difference.
Setting healthy routines
We’ve covered some of the ways to set healthier routines that will help you to have a healthier, more productive day.
● Wake up early
● Schedule times for social media and email
● Eat a healthier diet
● Take time to meditate
● Avoid too many screens before bed
This routine might look a little different for each individual, and you don’t have to try to make all of these changes at once.
In fact, take your time with revamping your routine to avoid giving yourself too big of a task to conquer and slipping back into your old habits as a coping mechanism for defeat.
Hobbies that help
There are some hobbies that you can take up during your free time that will help spark creativity and improve productivity during work time.
Reading and writing expose you to new information and give you a way to express yourself creatively – even if writing isn’t a huge part of your day to day activity.
Even listening to podcasts and journaling can help you unlock some natural creativity and give you something productive to focus on for your personal growth.
Wrapping it up
Bad habits lurk around every corner, waiting to distract us from our more important tasks and drain us of productivity each day.
You can overcome your bad habits by making daily changes to your routine and implementing healthier habits that will help you become more productive over time.
What are you waiting for?