Two Habits To Increase Your Productivity

By Azzy Aslam

Performance & Change Coach. Helping you create new habits and turning them into your superpower!

8 Aug, 2019

jHabits to get Sh*T done So You spend more time in the sun

What I really enjoy doing in life usually happens away from my work. I am sure it is the same for you. Particularly on a day like today.

It’s early August and the sun has come out to play. Warming the air, the ground and if I was out there, beaming on my face, warming my skin, my body, my bones.

It always makes me feel alive and calm at the same time. The big plus – it always makes me smile.

Let’s get real for a few minutes. Being at work and having to crank through stuff isn’t what anyone wants do on a day such as today.

It’s even more depressing when you are sitting behind a desk and you can see the sun out of the window. Calling you to get out there. But we all have to do stuff so we can pay the bills, eat, live and provide for our families.

One of the challenges we have at work, and increasingly outside of work, is we have a lot of things to do. The list seems to get longer. It’s never ending!

One day somebody told us that we have this super-power called “Multi-Tasking”. And we believed them. Because we liking wearing a cape!

So we start to multi-task, doing such things as:

  • speaking to someone on the phone and attempting to read a document
  • having a meeting with someone and reading (and replying to) emails
  • constantly being interrupted by people or calls and dealing with them whilst trying to finish the report in front of us
  • signing documents and answering phones call when we are in a meeting with others
  • listening to a training video – usually in the background whilst doing our expenses/admin
  • let’s not forget the dangerous and sometimes fatal – driving and texting!
  • etc….

 

Habit One – Single Focus

Here are some truths.

When we think we are multi-tasking, the reality is, we’re not. And we’re not very good at it either. That’s because we can’t multi-tasking! Science has repeatedly proven that there is no such thing.

What we are doing is splitting our attention back and forth from different task. It’s like watching two movies at the same time. Movies which are not the whizz, bang, action variety where we can doze off for ten minutes and still pick up the plot.

They have streams of dialogue. An intricate plot. Clues are given away in the words the actors speak. There are hidden messages when the camera quickly flashes to the corner of the room and back again.

When we attempt “multi-tasking” it’s as if we watch one movie for a few minutes and flip our attention to the second one. Back and forth. Back and forth. Flipping our attention and only catching snapshots of each movie.

This lights up different parts of our brain using precious mental energy – did you know our brain uses 20% of all our daily energy (something for another blog). We may well get the general overview of both movies, but did we understand the details, the characters, the messages, the plot?

By splitting our attention we miss the details of both.

So, back at work. You increase your chances of completing an activity faster and with greater accuracy when you give it your full attention. Neuroscience can show that focusing our attention on one things helps engage the appropriate part(s) of the brain to get the job done.

 

Habit Two – Dealing with Distractions

However, we have a ton of distractions!  It’s not just people or phone calls interrupting us. It’s all the distractions we allow to sit around and in front of us at our desk. You know what I’m talking about!

And sadly, many of these have now become habits. The kind of habits that actually end up keeping us busy rather than out having fun.

Let’s go through what you can do to ensure you focus on the one task in front of you so it’s completed effectively and efficiently.

  • When you are working at you PC: Only have on your screen the one document/web page/file that you are working with. Minimise or even better close every other browser (tabs), document, media players, and particularly your email. Only work on one activity at a time! You will give this your full attention and finish it faster and with more accuracy.
  • On your desk only have the one task, one file, relevant documents open and available. Get everything else (documents/books/files/technology) off your desk or put it at one end of the desk in a nice organised pile. Once again, this ‘single item on your desk’ approach helps you brain to focus on what is in front of it. If your PC is not needed, turn it off!
  • TURN OFF all notifications. This means your email, your phones, your web pages, your apps (yes, I do mean Facebook and IG) etc. This includes sounds, lights, and visual pop-ups. There is a ton information out there on how to do this for each device or application.

This works. Remember you are creating new habits. Creating new habits takes time. You will get itchy fingers to check if you missed a call, a status update….withdrawal symptons happen everytime you start to change yourself!

I have done this, and millions of people who manage to produce huge amount of work on time and with accuracy also do this. They are also the ones who turn their dreams into reality. Bit by bit. Small steps each day.

The reason this works, is that our mind creates habits and becoming distracted is an easy habit to create, particularly when we keep feeding it.

From a person perspective, I can now get through a whole series of daily activities to do with with my business in less than 2 hours (outside of my coaching sessions). Some time ago it would take me nearly 4 hours to the same activities when I would allow distractions and disruptions to break my flow.

Building a great habit of giving full attention and breaking the habits of being distracted will take time. Perseverence, persistance with a healthy dose of discipline will make it happen.

Don’t just think of turning your dreams and goals into reality, Do It!

 

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