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How Exceptionally Productive People End The Workday

The procrastination “doom loop”

The procrastination “doom loop”

Confront the things you’ve been putting off. If you keep putting things off, you'll feel guilty and that makes you want to avoid them even more. You will get stuck in the “doom loop” of anxiety and avoidance.
Break this loop by identifying the tasks that you’ve been avoiding, break them down into smaller tasks and schedule the next step for the following day.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

How Exceptionally Productive People End The Workday

How Exceptionally Productive People End The Workday

https://doist.com/blog/end-work-day/

doist.com

9

Key Ideas

Clean up your workspaces

End the workday by taking a minute to tidy your desk, save everything you’re working on, and close of all your tabs and windows. Make sure your work app notifications are automatically snoozed outside of work hours.
A physical and digital declutter will help your future self start the next morning focused and distraction-free.

Review your "to-done’s"

Boost your mood and motivation by taking the time to review your completed tasks at the end of each day.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to stay motivated and build momentum at work is to celebrate your progress.

The procrastination “doom loop”

Confront the things you’ve been putting off. If you keep putting things off, you'll feel guilty and that makes you want to avoid them even more. You will get stuck in the “doom loop” of anxiety and avoidance.
Break this loop by identifying the tasks that you’ve been avoiding, break them down into smaller tasks and schedule the next step for the following day.

Prepare tomorrow’s to-do list

Doing so at the end of your workday boosts your productivity:

  • It helps you stop thinking about work: writing out a plan to finish uncompleted tasks provides the same mental relief as actually completing the task.
  • It increases your willpower: starting the day with a clear, prioritized to-do list also cuts down on the number of decisions you’ll have to make early in the day.

The most important task

Use your end-of-the-work-day routine to make it as easy as possible to get started on tomorrow’s Most Important Task (MIT) in the morning.
Or leave a quick-win to do first thing tomorrow to help build momentum.

Set a time to end your workday

... and stick to it.
Knowing you have to complete your work by a certain hour will help you finish more work in less time.
Ending work at a set time also gives you a chance to relax and recharge, an essential part of long-term productivity.

The Zeigarnik Effect

Our brains are hard-wired to keep us thinking about our unfinished tasks until we’ve completed them.
This psychological phenomenon is called the Zeigarnik Effect.

Parkinson's Law

It states that work expands to fit the amount of time allotted to it.
For example, if you have 2 days to finish a task, it will take 2 days to finish. If you only give yourself 2 hours to finish the same task, it will take 2 hours.

End the day on a positive note

  • If you didn’t do everything you planned on doing, don’t beat yourself up about it. Forgive yourself.
  • Show gratitude. Reach out to a co-worker at the end of the day to say thank you.
  • Do someone a favor. Doing something for someone else is scientifically proven to make you happier.

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Task switching

Many of the multitasking warnings actually refer to the concept of “task switching.” It refers to switching your attention from one thing to another. 

Frequently flipping back and forth...

Multitasking can have some merit

While you’ve likely heard that it’s physically impossible to do two things at once, that rule really only applies to tasks that require the same cognitive resources. If you can find ways to combine two tasks that are different enough - like listening to an educational podcast while making your commute, practicing for a presentation while getting your miles in on the treadmill, or brainstorming article ideas while doing the dishes - multitasking can actually serve to your benefit.

Our Monkey Mind

We are constantly distracted throughout the day. Without focusing on anything with a calm, relaxed mind, we keep jumping from messages, to-do lists, social media, and email.
Constantly jumpin...

A Calm State of Mind
  • The Mind is not an enemy, which needs to be killed, but something to befriend.
  • Creating a calm space inside us can help calm the monkey down. Like a toddler throwing tantrums, you need to calm down the surroundings and minimize activity to keep the noise down.
  • Reducing distractions can help calm our Mind. We normally have a thousand things to check or look after throughout the day, be it email, notifications, etc. all of which keep the Monkey Mind jumping.
  • We are rushing too fast, most of the day. We need to slow down, pause and get quieter in between our never-ending daily routine.
Prescription For The Distracted Mind
  1. Meditate in the morning, starting with just 2 minutes.
  2. Provide yourself intentional space for your focused activities, blocking the time slots.
  3. Turn off as many distractions from your entire day, while turning on your awareness towards them.
  4. Do not judge or condemn your mind, and keep witnessing what it is doing.
  5. Slow down, relax your muscles, and take some deep breaths to calm yourself.
  6. Take frequent short breaks, putting space between two activities.
Make planning a habit
Make planning a habit

Some mornings we feel motivated to create a to-do list, but that is often the exception. We need to get things done, even when we feel disengaged.

Start by setting the alarm for you...

Align your to-do list with goals
  1. Break down your big goals into daily tasks. You can't add "Get in shape" to your daily to-do list, but you can add "spend 30 minutes on my bike."
  2. Consider your week as a whole. You likely have multiple goals. Some goals benefit from daily activity, while working towards others a few times a week can create momentum.
  3. Add your have-to-do tasks last. We often fill our to-do lists with have-to-do tasks that crowd the whole day. Adding it last forces you to fit your have-to-do tasks around your goal tasks.
Have one daily priority

Many of us start our mornings with dozens of things we need to get done, but later realize that we haven't crossed any of them off our lists. We did get stuff done, but none of the things we planned.

A balm against hectic days that pass without progress is to choose a single activity to prioritize and protect in your calendar. If you struggle to select your top priority, ask yourself, when you look back on your day, what do you want the highlight to be? That's your priority.

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Statistics about multi-tasking
  • Trying to focus on more than one thing at a time reduces your productivity by as much as 40%. That’s the cognitive equivalent of pulling an all-nighter.
  • The average desk job ...
When you single-task...
  • you tend to work on the right things. Effective single-tasking requires planning. Starting your day without a plan is just asking for distraction and inefficiency.
  • you accomplish more in less time with less stress: Intentionally focusing on one task at a time has been proven the most efficient way to move through your to-do list.
4 essential components of effective single-tasking:
  1. Cutting out distractions.
  2. Make a single-tasking plan you’ll actually stick to.
  3. Dealing with unavoidable distractions.
  4. Getting back on track when you’ve fallen off the single-tasking band wagon.

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Default behaviors

They are actions we make without thinking (habits, routines, compulsions). They control more than 40% of our daily actions.

So if we want to change our lives and be more productive, we...

Inbox always open

This behavior keeps you from dedicating your time to meaningful work. Replying to email may feel productive, but the truth is emails are rarely the most important thing on your to-do list.

So instead of keeping your inbox open all day, change your default behavior to working on emails in batches.

Immediately responding to messages

Real-time communication sets the expectation that you’re always available. And for many of us, our default behaviors support just that.

In order to change this behavior, you need to set expectations on response time. Mute specific channels, get rid of pop-ups, turn off mobile notifications, etc.

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Productivity Shame
Productivity Shame

Work is never finished, and we are unable to disconnect from it, causing us to experience productivity shame, impacting our happiness and creativity.

The modern working pro...

The Busyness Paradox: Addicted To Being Busy
  • Personal productivity is not about all-round efficiency, and it is wrong to think about your input as that of a machine in a factory unit.
  • This is further complicated by our mistaken assumption that being in demand means that we are doing a splendid job.
  • We blur our all boundaries between our work and personal life and every minute of the day is to be kept busy as we rush to attend every meeting, cross out every task from the to-do list or to answer every email that we get.
Completion Bias

Our brain starts to favour small tasks that give a false impression of productivity (woohoo! I just sent out fifty emails!) while we neglect the large, complex but meaningful tasks.

This is known as the completion bias.

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Cal Newport on better managing time
  • To-Do lists are useless. Schedule everything.
  • Assume you’re going home at 5:30, then plan your day backwards.
  • ...
The "frog"

It is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don't do something about it.

It is also the one task that can have the greatest positiv...

Brian Tracy
Brian Tracy

"One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all".

The ABCDE prioritization approach
  • A items : Things you must do, which will have a serious positive or negative consequence.
  • B items : Things you should do, that have minor consequences.
  • C items : Things that are nice to do but don’t have any real consequences when they’re done.
  • D items : Things to delegate so you can free up more time to do A tasks.
  • E items : Things to eliminate. Generally stuff you do out of habit.
Taking a break once an hour

... increases productivity. 

A break can serve as creative fuel

Something as simple as a ten-minute conversation with a friend, or watching an inspiring video can give us a much needed boost, or point us in a new direction if we've been stuck. 

Talking a step away -- literally or figuratively -- might be just what we need to recharge.

Physical movement

We are not designed to sit around all day. 

Getting up for a few minutes and getting our blood flowing and some more oxygen to the brain is a necessary piece of the work day.

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Tips For Efficient Email Management
  • Unsubscribe from or filter away the stuff you never read.
  • Disable email push notifications on your phone.
  • Check emails twice ...
Quote the sender's email in chunks
  • Only use enough quotations to establish the context.
  • Your reply should come below it.
  • When possible, cut and reformat the quoted text.
  • Get tasks out of your email and into a task manager.
Determine What The Sender Needs From You Asap

Ask yourself:

  • What’s the meaning and the value of the message?
  • What action does this message require of me?

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