We live in the digital era, where emails, texts, and other forms of communication have facilitated procrastination and “busy” work. However, there are only so many hours in a day, and working outside of work hours, although now a normalized practice, can create burnout. You have heard of time-management strategies such as scheduling and setting time blocks in order to complete your to-do list and reach peak productivity, but it doesn’t need to be this difficult for you to be able to boost your productivity. In fact, research proves that it’s all in our heads and a few mind tricks might do the trick for you. There are many ways to achieve real productivity by influencing your psychological state, but here are three you should try out for yourself.
The Two-Minute Rule
The two-minute rule originates from David Allen’s bestselling book, Getting Things Done. It’s a fairly simple rule – if the task takes less than two minutes to complete, start it now. From answering pesky emails to starting a month-long project, you can apply this rule to small and large tasks alike (For large projects, make sure to segment it into smaller goals and tasks to be able to apply this rule). Sometimes getting started is the most challenging factor when tackling a project or task. However, once you are in motion, much like Sir Isaac Newton taught us long ago, it is most probable you will stay in motion. Use this rule to dive into tasks you’ve put aside or are actively trying to ignore, and find yourself surprised when this simple rule reaps results.
Lighting and Temperature
Research backs it up, lighting and temperature play huge roles in your productivity. In fact, a study by Cornell proved that low temperatures (68 degrees or 20 degrees Celsius) enabled employees to make 44% more mistakes than at optimal room temperature (77 degrees or 25 degrees Celsius). Studies about lighting, although still in their infancy, have proven that more exposure to daylight boosts productivity. Therefore, it’s crucial to regulate temperature and lighting in your office space, whether that be your work-place or home office. Simply open the window, invest in a good desk lamp, and keep an eye on the thermometer to improve productivity.
Focus on Progress, not To-Do Lists
Did you know only half of to-do lists are completed every day? And that 41% of tasks are never truly completed? List-making is a reductive format that doesn’t supplement the work of leaders. People who undertake big projects with no deadlines will not benefit from list-making. Therefore, it is important to reflect and document progress rather than checking boxes out of your to-do list. The simple act of looking back on progress positively influences your sense of accomplishment. This also results in feeling competent and effective with your work, impacting your future undertakings and ultimately becoming more productive. Keep a journal and record at least three sentences a day about how much you have done. Pausing to reflect on your accomplishments helps you recognize the value of your hard work. And, in turn, boosts productivity in the long run.
Although these practices are not a permanent replacement for a good, productive system, they are functional strategies to turn to when you can’t seem to get things done. Productivity is hard to achieve, but with these simple strategies, you can create a work strategy that works. Moreover, these strategies can minimize burnout and help you best utilize your time. Try them out for yourself!