How to stay more productive? And why time-management isn’t the right answer.

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Nowadays we receive 5 times more information on a daily basis than just a few decades ago. We are expected to juggle many different roles and responsibilities and we constantly feel that we should be more productive.

There is a bit of a paradox here that people believe in. We feel we should work more and faster in order to be more productive. If you are a factory worker that’s probably the case but in most other jobs in order to be more productive we need to SLOW DOWN!

When did time start to matter to people SO MUCH? I find history quite fascinating so let’s just go through a few interesting facts:

  • In 1275, the first mechanical clock was invented in England. The oldest working clocks usually did not have any face and told the time by striking the hours.
  • Pocket watches started to be produced in the 16thcentury but showed only hours. Minute hands were added to the clocks in the 1680s. Then the second hands were added around 10 years later.
  • Mass production of watches started in the 19th century and was related to industrial changes.
  • The first wrist watches were wore by women and often used rather as a piece of jewellery than a device to measure time.

Apparently before people used watches If they wanted to tell how long something may take they would describe it by giving an example of an activity that was well known e.g. “like eating a banana”, so then everyone knew that they meant a very short period of time.

Time management used to be crucial in the industrial economy but nowadays, in the knowledge economy (when we use our knowledge to create values and products), it is ONLY ONE OUT OF A FEW important factors which can improve our effectiveness, productivity and work-life balance.

Actually managing your energy and tasks is a lot more important than time-management. Instead of worrying about passing hours and days and how we can squeeze more tasks into small blocks of time, we need to divert attention into more significant aspects, more innovative techniques and solutions which can help in achieving optimal productivity.

We feel most productive when we do a lot of things and work longer hours. Many people think then that to accomplish more you need to put more effort in, sleep fewer hours and work additionally at weekends, to be always ahead of competition! There is a bit of truth in it. Nothing that’s great comes easily and if you want to have exceptional results you need to put a lot of work and energy into whatever you are doing – writing a book, working on your business plan or creating a project for your university course or work. However, working more hours won’t make you more productive. Studies found that we should work, ideally, 35-40 hours a week in order to achieve the best results. Working more than that may work for very short periods of time—for example, a few days—but in the long-term working a lot will make you exhausted and depressed and you are at high risk of burnout. To be more productive focus on slowing down MORE!

Remember about regular breaks and getting 7-8 hours of sleep everyday as well. We all seem to know these simple rules but they are neglected by SO many of us!

Time usage is vital in our lives (that’s why we all keep looking at watches, and the most popular word in the English language is…time!) so I don’t want to say that this is not important but there seem to be other more crucial factors which can decide how effective, productive and successful we are. Focus on managing your energy levels and attention and consider how you can avoid distractions. Also, focusing on the right tasks seems a straightforward rule but is often neglected by many people who instead of spending some time on reflection, prioritising, planning and reviewing try to do more tasks and take work home.

What do you do to boost your productivity?

 

How to learn 230% faster?

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If you want to be productive and achieve great results, naturally you need to do your tasks with passion. GRIT is important but it’s normal, of course, that we don’t love every single task that we have to do, e.g. at work, right? It is a challenge but it’s POSSIBLE to change your mindset and persuade yourself that actually you like a task which doesn’t seem so exciting for you (yet?). It is possible if you try to link the task to something that may be beneficial for you. Learning something about a topic which you are unfamiliar with (and thus it’s difficult or boring for you) may actually be very useful one day.

Why is it so important to be interested in what you are doing and working on? According to Steven Kotler, an average person is in a state of flow for less than 5% of their time during each day!

What’s more, flow appears to be KEY in speed learning: “DARPA found that military snipers trained in a state of flow learned 230 per cent faster than normal” (click here for more information)

I found this information really fascinating. If flow increases your effectiveness so much it means that you don’t need to bother, for example, with trying out different time management tips and techniques. Simply expressing genuine interest can increase your productivity a great deal. If you manage to achieve a state of flow that’s even better!

Do you do some tasks daily which you don’t particularly enjoy but you think you might if you made some changes and got more interested and learned more about them? The more you delve into a particular topic, the more you will learn and the more productive you will be. So try to make your tasks as interesting as possible.

How do you persuade yourself that something you don’t enjoy may actually be interesting?

A friend of mine has an undergraduate degree in International Relations and Masters in Finances. She has many different interests in fact, but mining wasn’t one of them when she got a job in the admin department in one of the largest gas and oil companies in Europe. It quickly occurred to her that her job had a lot to do not just with admin but also with a lot of technical terms used by engineers while discussing different methods or machines in meetings, and at different events and workshops that she needed to attend and eventually understand. She decided to read news on these topics every single morning. She chose websites she liked the most. Some YouTube videos were very helpful too and she became more of an expert in what she was doing. She then started to find this new knowledge quite interesting. To improve her understanding of the subject matter further she decided to do a Diploma in a related discipline.

As you can see from this example, you can do a lot in order to make a difficult and unfamiliar discipline or topic more interesting for you. Be open, don’t complain and worry that you can’t do something before you even TRY!

Your attitude, your perspective and your mindset are vital in achieving success in any area of your life.