Do you struggle with being productive? I know that many of us do, because we get questions all the time from the Psych2Go community asking for advice on how they can better manage their time, and do more in a day.
Usually, people come up to us with questions that relates to distractions, procrastination or simply just feeling like they don’t have the energy, motivation or time to really get things done.
Hence, we put together a very short article on 10 psychologically proven strategies to help you become more productive.
1. Commit Fully
In psychology, have you heard about the concept of flow? Essentially, flow is when a person is fully immersed in a task that they become so focused and productive. To achieve flow, one must first learn to commit fully.
You can’t be watching television while trying to write an essay or talking to a friend while trying to get things done. You simply have to commit to whatever you are doing, and then you will achieve flow.
Whatever it is you are doing whether writing a novel or losing weight, you need to be fully in it to make it work. We’ve seen people do it on the TV. The look of determination of a football player as he eyed the opposing team. The flash of conviction in a politician’s face as they spew out promises after promises. The slight shift of a singer’s body as they prepare to belt out that massive note that would either sound like a mermaid’s call or a banshee’s scream whose feet got stepped on by a leprechaun.
Focus and commitment. Two of the most widely regarded factors of successful people when they are asked what they’re secrets are for their accomplishments. However, as humans our mind is prone to wandering at the most inappropriate of times. A simple remedy that has proven effective to most is making a list of task or schedules.
On a side note, having an agenda and planning ahead can really help with committing too.
2. Avoid multi-tasking
Speaking on the topic of being fully committed, avoiding multi-tasking is obviously part of that. One can’t be fully committed to something if their brain is running on multiple things at once. Psychology research has shown that multitasking simply doesn’t work. You might think that you are getting more done, but in reality, you are splitting your energy over many things doing a crappy job on possibly all of them.
Doing multiple things at once is not only unproductive, it’s dangerous as well. We’ve all done it. We’re sitting in front of our computers, fingers blazing through the keyboard as we time in hundreds of words per minute, ideas just flowing out and painting a big picture. But then your phone beeped notifying you that your acquaintance from elementary Janice has uploaded a new picture of her child. At the same time, your Instagram has been going nuts with comments and hearts on that amazing photo you uploaded. And you remembered that you still have to email reports to your boss. The itch to reach out and swipe at your phone is too strong that before you know it, you spent the whole afternoon watching cat videos.
Humans just aren’t designed for multitasking. Yes, some people can do it with ease, but us average Joe’s will more likely increase errors and projects will take us longer to finish. To make sure that you focus, try closing all social media tabs in your browser, lock your phone in a drawer and just shut the world and do your job. A bit too much? Probably, but the effectivity is almost a guarantee.
3. Avoid Interruptions
You are doing something. You are completely into it, blazing through a project with your dagger like focus. Then your cat jumps into your lap breaking off the focus you had. Small interruptions can disrupt a person’s train of thought and it will take a while to get it back and gain momentum.
That is why it is important to avoid interruptions at all cost if you want to increase your productivity. It doesn’t mean that you have to kick your dog out or completely isolate yourself from friends and family. But use what you have at your disposal. Talk to people and notify them ahead of time that you wish to not be disturbed for you to complete that five-page essay on Hamlet. Use your earphones and play calming music to help you focus and shut distracting ambient noises. Do what works for you.
4. Find like-minded company
There is a reason why millionaires often hang out with other millionaires. When you surround yourself with like minded people, there is a large chance that you will adapt into their culture, rising to their level and absorbing their professional traits.
Friends are great people to hang out with. They provide us with support, assists us when we have problems and cheer us up when we are done. However, selecting the people you hang out with to boost your professional life from the people who don’t inspire you is probably a good idea. It doesn’t mean that you should never hang out with them anymore, but be mindful of the people you spend a majority of your time with.
Furthermore, it’s no joke when psychology research says that you are like the five people you surround yourselves with. Other people feed off their energy to us and when they have a lower energy than you, you will sink to their level. It’s best to surround yourself with people who are similar or higher than you if you want to achieve more.
It is also kind of common sense too since professional athletes and so forth rarely train with those who are less capable than themselves because obviously athletes want to improve. So the only way to improve is to compete against those who are better.
Same for everything else. If you want to make more money, surround yourself with people who are making more money. If you want to do better in school, surround yourselves with those who are doing good. If you want to be a better writer, surround yourselves with those who are and breaking the bank so you can rise to their level.
5. Limit emotional buildup
Frustration, irritation, anger, self-loathing and disappointment. Negative feelings we all feel and sometimes have trouble processing. But letting the negative energy build up inside you like a plastic bottle with dry ice inside is not healthy and will eventually lead you to a path you don’t want to take.
Let’s face facts. Emotions can hamper productivity in one way or another whether we want it to or not. You can’t shut it down and you can’t make it go away. However, there are ways you can manage your emotions in a way that it doesn’t build up causing you to feel overwhelmed.
Doing Yoga or mediating for a few minutes works for most people. While some prefer a few lifts at the gym or a couple of laps around the block, some people like to nap or eat. Everyone is different and it is up to you to find what works best for you. You will know when its effective when a feeling of relief washes over your body like a giant elephant had been lifted off of your shoulders.
Remember, we are all humans and none of us are exactly the same physically, emotionally and intellectually. It’s what makes us unique. As much as we would all love to be millionaires by the time we retire or travel around the world before we hit the big 40, it is important to account that we all have different pacing.
Just live your life and enjoy the moment. Hope you enjoy this article! Feel free to leave your comments or questions below.