One thing I learnt from my degree in English Literature was that all good stories must end. Unless you’re talking about Star Wars or Eastenders, two stories which, I don’t doubt, will continue indefinitely. And so goes my time at Allthings. The 15 months I’ve been here have been brilliant. From blog posts, podcasts, FAQs and technical documents, on the way I reckon I’ve learnt a thing or two about productivity. Someone – I can’t quite remember who – was recently talking about me and used the words ‘productivity’ and ‘expert’ in the same sentence. I kid you not. So, without further ado, here are the back-to-basics, bottom-line, end-of-the-day solid tips that, if used, result in untold levels of productivity.
Sleep really does matter
In one of my earlier articles for allthings I covered sleep in relation to productivity because it takes up such a massive portion of our lives, or at least it should. In the article, The Truth about Sleep and Productivity I basically covered why you should get more sleep and offered a brief insight on how to do that. But on reflection, having a good night’s sleep basically all comes down to 3 things:
1. Making time for yourself (a task almost improbable in this over-exposed ‘grammed world)
2. Finding a routine
3. Sticking to it
The benefits of getting a good night’s sleep are numerous and not getting 40 winks can affect your career, relationships and both your mental and physical health. I’m not saying it’s a full 8 hours you need every night – I know loads of people who clock around 6 and feel unstoppable the next day. It’s finding what works for you. There’s a plethora of ways to combat sleep issues but I would recommend you check out my original article and have a look at the Sleep Foundation’s site. Your productivity will thank you.
Annoyingly, exercise counts
Being overall regarded as ‘healthy’ will certainly help you achieve more. You’ll generally have more energy and with this newfound energy you’ll be able to focus easier and find that time which is so often lost. You’ll find yourself saying ‘I don’t have the time’ or ‘I’m busy’ a lot less as opportunities come your way. Now, in order to avoid a paradox of sorts, I’ll admit that exercising and eating well do require time, and precious ‘snooze’ or ‘post-work’ time at that. All I’ll say is that reclaiming that time is liberating and once you find something which you love doing, it will no longer feel like a chore.
Invest in things which work for you
Two words. Mechanical keyboard. Yes, this tip is all about finding and utilising technology, software and products which work best for you. Often you’re presented with a one-size fits all option when in fact you need something a little better and tailor-made for your needs. This isn’t diva-ish it’s just about getting more done and reaching your full potential. If what you’re using doesn’t feel right or you feel like it’s holding you back – start searching for alternatives. I know my lovely Cherry mechanical keyboard winds everyone up in the office but it is a dream to use. I can type more and for longer periods of time – quite useful being a content writer!
Make the most of your day
I’m a sucker for motivational quotes. They’re like poetry but without all of the meaningless blether. A lot of these quotes, for example:
“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” — Oscar Wilde
focus on the carpe-diem notion of doing more and choosing the road less travelled for success. In fact, many of the most famous icons of the past and present did achieve an impressive amount precisely by just ‘going for it’ and ‘putting in the hours’. People like Benjamin Franklin, Marie Curie and Steve Jobs set the original #lifegoals and extreme routines similar to theirs are becoming increasingly popular. (In another early blog post and a podcast I covered Benjamin Franklin’s routine in more detail) Just last week we had Craig Jarrow of Time Management Ninja on the podcast declare that he rises at the eye-wincing time of 4am. Yikes. But, at the end of the day, it works for him. It wasn’t about getting as much as possible done before 8, but doing certain things at that time so there’s more time later on to spend with family or friends. It’s all about reclaiming time y’all.
Think of it like spinning plates. Speaking from experience I’ve never literally spun plates but I can imagine it would be hard at first. Like riding a bike. (I’ll stop with the metaphors now!) But then, after a while, after practice and determination, it becomes a habit. I bet it would be satisfying to cast your eye over the 10 or so plates simultaneously spinning around you. It might require you get up an hour earlier, but if it means successfully spinning that extra plate that’s been lying on the floor gathering dust, surely it’s worth it?
If you can’t enjoy a cheeky G&T after work when can you? The notion of a work-life-balance is right at the forefront of a lot of talk on productivity at the moment and not without reason.It’s no longer the cities which are sleepless, it seems the whole world can’t switch off. As a result, more of us are looking to draw a clear line between work and play. Now’s probably a good time to mention the wonders of meditation and the philosopher’s-stone-holy-grail-life-prolonging elixir that goes with it. Meditation isn’t just a fad, and can help with stress and reducing the humdrum of working life. It’s something I covered in my article Finding your Zen: The Truth about Meditation in 2015. But you don’t have to meditate to feel like you’re achieving that work-life balance. Just find something that you enjoy and make time for it. Schedule it in the diary if you need to. You’ll soon find that that mysterious work-life balance takes care of itself and you become more productive overall.
It kind of goes without saying doesn’t it? The humble To-Do list is probably responsible for some of the greatest scientific and technological steps made in history. The simple process of gathering your thoughts, storing them somewhere and organising them so that they’re easier to understand and work through is timeless. Writing things you just need to get done down is motivating and takes all the pressure off your brain. After all, we can’t remember everything.