It starts innocently enough. If you’re anything like me, you wake determined to make your day productive. One friend described it like this, “I start chasing squirrels – one here – one there, then before I know it it’s time to pick up the kids from school!” We know we need to power through and get our work done but often our days spiral and we’re left chasing our own tails.
In our non-stop world where we need to be ‘connected’ 24/7 and ‘on top’ of it all, I think many of us are loosing the productivity battle. It’s just too easy to get distracted. We grew up being told, “You need to multi-task to get it all done.” Studies now show how that thought process is very flawed. “When you try to multitask, in the short-term it doubles the amount of time it takes to do a task and it usually at least doubles the number of mistakes,” said Dr. Joann Deak. She argues that research shows your brain is only able to focus deeply on one task at a time and trying to do too many things at once causes the brain to lose the capacity for deep thinking altogether. Scary.
For the growing population of work-from-home individuals it’s even trickier. You need to be diligent about defining your work space and hours. I’m currently in that category and admit to the struggle. (I swear the squirrels actually knock on my door!) At least when you’re working out of an office you’re not tempted to throw in a load of laundry, watch the latest YouTube video, etc. The distractions that result in a loss of productivity are endless at home. So what to do about it?
3 SUGGESTIONS to HELP INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY:
1. First things first. We’ve all heard the saying but putting it into practice is a different story. It’s the centuries-old philosophy that simply states before you do anything you work (for a pre-determined amount of time) on the most important task that advances your most important goal. It’s about focus – no multi-tasking here. Squirrels not allowed. (This applies to personal growth – not just work priorities – as well. Devote time to learn a second language, write a book, or start that exercise regime you never have time for!)
2. Practice gratitude. We should always take a moment each day to pause and be thankful. A mental shift takes place the second we focus on what we have vs. what we don’t have, and happiness ensues. Research proves that happy people are more productive (and less stressed). Enough said.
3. Don’t check in. This may be the hardest thing to do for many of us. Once again – it’s simple – but don’t check email or facebook or whatever form of media that sucks you in until you’ve accomplished #1 and #2 above.
When I practice the above I’m amazed at how much I can get done and how my overall sense of well-being improves. You feel good about your progress – and when you’re making progress you tend to stay motivated and focused and the squirrels often vanish!
Thanks so much for your business. Wishing you a productive day of bliss!
– Jennifer McNamara, Bliss & Vinegar
References: Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by Dr. JoAnn Deak and New Zealand at Work case study
P.S. Another CRITICAL element to productivity is eating well. We can help in that department! 🙂 Also, check out the great breakfast suggestions from our featured local fitness partner – FSP Gym.