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 need to first change our default behaviors.
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.
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.
This behavior is harmful mostly because switching context kills your productivity, so even a simple social media check while working on a task can eat up 20–80% of your productive time.
To change this, consider how keeping up with social media fits into your larger values and use the necessary tools to support your new behavior.
How this behavior harms your productivity: not only do you have to constantly hunt for the tab you need to use, but you’re unnecessarily opening yourself up to distraction.
To change that, reset your default behavior by constantly clearing your workspace to neutral: open it, read it, then close it.
When you multitask, you train your mind to be distracted. You also end up taking longer, doing poor work, and being less creative
So give your work the respect it deserves and focus on single-tasking.
The default behavior of thinking you need every app out there to be productive is false.
So choose the right tools for your task flow and stick to them. Remember that productivity is not primarily tied to tools, it’s tied to your behavior.
This makes it very difficult to unwind, disconnect, and “turn off.” It also makes it challenging to be fully present when with family and friends.
To change this behavior, change the way you think about work and understand that being always online it's not healthy.
We need to respond to emails and messages, read the news and catch up on things. But these activities don't have to fill our entire lives.
Create a container for each of these activities: set aside 30 minutes for responding to all your emails, another 30 minutes for messages (maybe 2-3 times a day), and so on.
We can choose what we want in our lives deliberately, and what we don’t want and then set limits (or eliminate) that activity.
For example, limit sugar to a snack every week, watch videos only between 6-7 pm etc. These kinds of limits help us to simplify and be more deliberate.
When you start your day, or any meaningful activity, ask what your intentions are for the day or that activity.
Do you want to be more present? Do you want to move your mission forward? Do you want to be compassionate with your loved ones? Set intentions and try to hold that intention as you move through the day or that meaningful activity.
To create space for what is meaningful, focus on important tasks.
Pick just 3 (or even just 1) and focus on that first. Put aside everything else (you can come back to all that later) and create space for what’s meaningful in your life.
If the activity is important enough to include in your limited time, it’s important enough to give it your full focus.
If you’re going to write, close all other tabs and just write. If you’re going to brush your teeth, just do that.
Every single act is an opportunity to be fully with the activity. Everything we do can be a practice in breath, in presence, in deep consciousness.
Give each activity an importance, and when it’s done, give some weight to the space between activities.
Space is also important. We have the tendency to finish one task and then immediately launch into the next.
You, and only you, are responsible for scheduling personal time.
Many of us think that we need to cut online meetings down to the bare minimum and remain silent before it starts. When attending an in-person meeting, no one sits around in silence before the start of the meeting. We shouldn't do this in virtual meetings either. Diving straight into the work can also suck the energy out of the virtual room.
Instead, allow time to catch up with one another and discuss topics other than work. Also, try and infuse more fun and energy into your meetings to bring socialisation back.
Asynchronous working styles can better accommodate employees' creative flow.
Research suggests the average worker is only productive for 2 hours, 53 minutes within an 8-hour workday. Allowing workers flexibility outside of strict 9-5 hours can positively impact productivity and work-life balance.
Gone are the years where most people used Post-it notes or email flags to prioritise tasks.
The tools we use to track our performance at work have crossed into our personal lives and have the potential to control us. It may be time to rethink whether tracking and uploading tasks into various apps is really the path to success.
While the desire to complete a set of tasks within a timeframe is not a new phenomenon, our cultural obsession with personal productivity is.
In the 1990s, technology was promoted as a time-saving tool, such as search engines that saved us hours of digging for information. We could suddenly do more with potentially less work. No wonder we started to embrace a lifestyle that could maximise productivity.
Global sales of wearable devices that track daily activity and allow users to get notifications will reach $1bn by 2022.
One neuroscientist says part of the attraction for users is the way many of these apps 'reward' users. When you see your step count or sleep hours in an app, it creates a feedback loop where you experience an immediate reward. Progress badges can become more important than the outcome itself.
Data suggests that employees are struggling with software overload. Productivity is declining while burnout is rising. Research from 2018 shows that the average operational support worker changed 1,100 times between 35 applications during a working day.
While good productivity apps can help, there is still a question of whether we really want to become more productive, or just seem to be more effective.
Before the pandemic people were non-stop on the go, now people are rethinking the qualitative aspect of being productive. Instead of seeing how many items we can tick off our list, we have an opportunity to ask if it was more innovative, purpose-driven or socially-driven.
And some of the solutions linked to discipline can be solved even without technology.
Even if you think it’s too big of a dream but it’s something you want, write it down anyway.
When you write something down, studies say you’ll be 33% more likely to do it because it sets an intention and puts a goal into motion.
When you’re making an important decision, create a list of pros and cons. This list makes you dig down deep.
It can also help to share your list with someone else or ask a friend or partner to help brainstorm more pros and cons. This list gives you the clarity you need to make good decisions.
When you are working on a project with others, create project lists that detail tasks and assign responsibilities.
This helps you avoid micromanaging.
If you have an upcoming meeting or an important phone call, create a list of things you want to discuss, so you don’t risk forgetting something.
Keep this list handy on your desk, so when things pop in your mind you can jot them down.
According to traditional thinking, procrastinators have a time-management problem. They are unable to understand how long a task will take and need to learn how to schedule their time better.
However, psychologists increasingly realize that procrastination is an issue with managing our emotions, not our time.
Studies show low mood only increases procrastination if enjoyable activities are available as a distraction. In other words, we're drawn to other activities to avoid the discomfort of applying ourselves.
Procrastination leads to two primary consequences.
The next time you're tempted to procrastinate, focus on this question: "What is the next action I would take on this task if I were to get started on it now?"
Doing this will take your mind off your feelings and onto an easily achievable action.
There is no "one size fits all schedule" for maximum productivity.
Because we all have particular strengths and weaknesses when it comes to time management and productivity, what works for one person could be a total disaster for another.
It involves planning out your day in advance and dedicating specific hours to accomplish specific tasks.
It’s important to block out both proactive blocks (when you focus on important tasks) and reactive blocks (when you allow time for requests and interruptions).
Instead of writing a big to-do list and trying to get it all done, determine the 1-3 tasks that are absolutely essential and then focus on those tasks during the day.
You don’t do anything else until you’ve completed the three essential tasks.
It's about working in short, productive, focused bursts, and then giving yourself a brief break. It only requires is a timer:
The human body operates on cycles called "ultradian rhythms." During each of these cycles, there is a peak when we are most energized and a trough when we are exhausted.
Use the 1-3-5 rule when putting together her daily to-do list.On any given day, set nine goals for yourself:
This keeps you from feeling overwhelmed by an endless list, and also helps keep you focused on just those items.
The “two-minute rule” has two parts.
First, if something takes less than two minutes, do it now. Next, start building new habits for two minutes at a time. The rule for this is: When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do. The idea is to make your habits as easy to start as possible.
Think of these “two-minute habits” as gateway habits that will lead to your overarching goal.
It takes time to get into a rhythm to work on a task. Instead of constantly starting and stopping that process, it’s better to keep your rhythm going by bundling similar tasks together.
By doing this, you avoid interruptions and prevents himself from procrastinating.
“If you don’t want to do something, make a deal with yourself to do at least five minutes of it,” says Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom. “After five minutes, you’ll end up doing the whole thing.”
Getting started on something, even for just a few minutes, helps us break down big goals into baby steps.
Instead of just randomly quitting a task, make sure you leave off at a place that will inspire you to get going next time you’re ready to pick it up.
Before you finish work for the day, capture any open questions that you’re currently working on. Ask yourself: if you were to continue working, what would be the very next thing you’d do?
It creates artificial pressure that trains you to deal with real pressure during your career. Procrastinators have to learn to prioritize.
Because you’re doing everything at the last minute, there’s no time to forget anything or re-study anything. Your knowledge is fresh and the pressure is on, so you’ll complete the task faster than you would have if you had done it earlier.
Procrastination in its chronic form is a barrier that prevents us from achieving happiness, health and success. Regular procrastinators skip their exercise routines, and also have high levels of anxiety, leading to various mental and physical ailments.
New research tries to target the root cause of procrastination, looking at it from a psychological angle.
Using a variation of the Temporal Motivation Theory, procrastination is divided into four causes, which are interlinked:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a proven tool to resolve the psychological problem of procrastination, but it is time-consuming and not very scalable.
A quicker way is to ask these four questions to oneself: