We’ve all been there.
With a mountain of work to finish, it feels like you just never have enough time.
You feel busy and overwhelmed by that never-ending ‘to-do list’ and find yourself having to multi-task or getting distracted easily.
With 2017 almost upon us, it is inevitable that we want to become a better version of who we are at present, accomplishing and growing more as an individual.
To help get your New Year off to an insanely productive start and help you say ‘goodbye’ to endless ‘to-do lists’ and ‘hello’ to more time for yourself, I want to share the following three hacks with you.
1. Block Out Time for Single Tasking
We live in an ever distracting world, which steals our attention and focus from that which is most important to us. By giving in to constant distractions and attempting to become a multi-task master, we often end up being busy for busy’s sake. In reality, it’s avoidance of executing on the actual work that needs to be followed through to completion.
Our mind is wired to be innovative on one thing at a time, not on multiple tasks. The latter causes a dilution of attention and means that we are never fully present on the task at hand. We must recognise what happens when we are not consciously in control of our focus.
There are a couple of rules I have for myself when single tasking:
- Know what I want to accomplish for the upcoming single task period (whether that’s the next 30, 60 or 90 minutes) in order to ensure I can measure my progress.
- Work in a minimalist fashion by only having windows and apps open that are of relevance to the single task at hand. Eliminate all other distractions until the single task period has ended.
- Make it clear to family, friends and colleagues that you are not to be disturbed during this period unless it’s an absolute emergency. Simply setting your phone to ‘flight mode’ or ‘do not disturb’ usually helps.
2. Begin Your Day with an Energising Morning Routine
Did you know that it takes around 30 days of repeatedly doing the same thing on a daily basis to adopt that thing as a new habit?
From the moment you wake up, walk over to the bathroom to brush your teeth, nearly everything you do on a daily basis is habitual and has been developed over many years, if not decades.
If we are able to develop greater self-awareness as to what habits no longer serve us and what new, positive and empowering habits we can embrace, we are able to experience phenomenal increases in our productivity levels and accomplish things faster than we could ever have imagined.
I aim to begin nearly every morning with a refreshing and energising exercise routine involving cardio and weight training. This simple habit has made a dramatic difference to my energy levels and my mindset for whatever challenges may arise throughout the remainder of the day.
On the rest days between workouts, I embrace something I like to call ‘active rest’ in which I meditate using a process called creative visualisation. This allows me to imagine what my day will look like and plan what needs to be accomplished in my head. As Einstein once said, “Imagination is a preview of life’s coming attractions”.
This has had a powerful impact on my focus in accomplishing my key goals for the day. The clarity that comes with a regular meditation practice really needs to be embraced more by society!
3. Build in Regular ‘Renewal Periods’ Into Your Day
When was the last time you had your most creative ideas or moment of insights?
If you’re like most people, then chances are it was when you last had a lovely warm bath or shower, on a long holiday away from your day job, or when going for a walk in nature with just your headphones and the music it played for company.
Having regular periods of renewal is just as important as focusing on your most important tasks on a given day, because clarity and insights come more often from a mind that is still than one that is busy. And it’s why employee wellness is becoming an increasingly area of focus for companies if they want to retain and nurture their most talented employees, as well as be continuously innovative.
The ability to combine single tasking with planned renewal or rest periods, can do wonders for how much you accomplish and how much of your innate creativity you are able to access, leverage and apply. My typical setup for example is to single task for 60-90 minutes and then have a 15 minutes break before repeating the process. Studies have shown that the human mind is only able to maintain a high level of focus for up to two hours before it needs to recharge.
I personally believe that when you’re able to cross off your most challenging and important goals for the day, you feel like a superhero and that energy will continue for the rest of the day. Whatever happens, you know you’ve already accomplished something of significance and that you can be proud of.
I’d love to hear about your experience in applying these and ‘No’, you don’t need to wait until the New Year to begin these. The earlier, the better, so that come January 2nd, you can be off to a head start!