We all need to be working smarter, not harder. I've done so many 12 hour days in the last 5 years, it's not worth thinking about. Increase your productivity and spend more time doing LIFE instead of business with these 5 simple tricks that I love.
1. Be Strategic with your Schedule
We all have times of the day when we seem to get the most done. To really plough through your to-do list, try scheduling the most important tasks when you’re at your most productive in your day. Block out time in your calendar and allow yourself to get into a flow when you work best.
For me, I’m most productive after my morning gym session between 10-11am. This straight after my creative thinking hour - when all the ideas come flooding and I'm super pumped to tackle them. Then again at 5pm when my phone and emails have died down and my brain is in gear, I'm usually on-point because I'm hustling to get finished before dinner.
2. Focus on one thing at a time
I know it sounds simple, but I can guarantee you're not working like this right now. You've probably got 3 windows open, a partially-drafted email and a million tabs waiting to be re-visited. You're clicking from one to the next when they catch your eye, without actually completing the tasks. Your productivity decreases with every extra tab you have open, every click out of that window. If you can fully focus on one task only, you’ll do better work because you won’t be wasting brain power remembering what 6 tasks you’re trying to juggle and where you’re up to. Start slowly - give yourself 10-15 minute blocks of dedicated single-task tackling, and increase to 30 when you get into a good flow.
Tip: put your phone in flight-mode so those pesky notifications don't have your eyes flicking to the screen.
3. Set a timer
Think about how fast you clean the house when someone announces they’re popping over in 5 minutes. Or when you only have 30 minutes in the gym before work. Do you sit around checking how popular your last picture was on Instagram? Or brew yourself your 6th cup of tea? No. You hustle. The same applies to timed tasks. Limiting the amount of time we have for a task helps us FOCUS and get stuff done. Use your phone, watch or oven timer and with the task in mind, set and work, work, work.
Isn’t it ironic that taking time out can actually help you get more stuff done in a day? When you find yourself down a rabbit hole and not really moving forward, get up and go for a short walk, phone a friend or pop to the local cafe. I use the reminder on my FitBit to vibrate when I've been stationary for 1 hour - it makes me get up, stretch and take a 5 minute brain-rest. It’s amazing what it can do for your thought progress and lifts you out of your bogged-down workflow. You’ll come back to your work with a new mindset and shit down the crap that was draining your time to start afresh.
Re-train your brain into thinking that ten minutes away from your screen is actually going to INCREASE YOUR OUTPUT.
5. CREATE DIGITAL DOWNTIME
You are not your best when you're groggy and tired. The blue light emitted from screens affects our brain activity, making it difficult for us to get good quality sleep (or even to sleep at all) if we’re played scrolling Instagram in bed or typing away in the laptop before it’s lights-out. When you wake up feeling refreshed and focused, you’re way more likely to tackle important jobs efficiently. Don’t believe me? That’s cool. Believe Arianna Huffington instead. This book changed the way I valued my sleep. The best thing I did for myself at the start of the year was to buy an alarm clock. No more phones in the bedroom!
Sal is on a mission to prove that healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to be boring – and that even while staying in shape you can have your cake and eat it too. After losing 14kg from adopting a healthier lifestyle, she shares her journey with others on The Fit Foodie Blog. She also writes for national health magazines, has launched a range of Protein Ball Mixes: Fit Mixes, and is the author of Love Move Eat (Bauer Media, 2017).