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    7 Life-Altering Productivity Hacks for Those Who Feel Like They’re Falling Behind in Life

    Productivity means effective use of time. It is not how many hours you put in your work but how effectively you do it with less time.

    Our society has a preconceived notion of thinking if a person is constantly busy, they're being productive. That is not true. We want to look busy without caring much about time investment.

    After reading various books and articles on productivity, I combined major habit models and frameworks that we all can apply in our daily work. These pointers can be followed individually or can be combined with other pointers.

    "Developing the habit of mastering the multiple models which underlie reality is the best thing you can do."Charlie Munger

    So let us get started!

    Prioritize Your Most Important Tasks

    Prioritizing simply means giving importance to something over something else. If you are doing anything unimportant, you are missing an opportunity that you could have done something more important. This is also commonly known as Opportunity Cost.

    The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything"Warren Buffet

    Two major prioritization techniques are discussed below:

    1. 80/20 Principle — Pareto’s Principle

    Our brain gets an instant rush of happiness when we tend to finish off tasks. Important or unessential.

    The real challenge lies in identifying the important tasks. If we fail to do so, we may feel that we are working but not getting any outcome.

    If we manage to make a list of all tasks that should be completed by the end of the day and prioritize 20% of the most important tasks, we will get an 80% outcome out of performing those 20% tasks.

    The 4-Hour Workweek writer Tim Ferriss has summarized it in the best precise manner.

    “80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs”

    This ratio is most common if we look into our everyday’s world and are well balanced.

    • 80% of the company’s profit will come from 20% of the most loyal customers.
    • 80% of the audience will come from 20% of the top blog posts that you have posted.

    This principle can be crucial for deciding on where to put in your energy and time to gain the maximum effective output.

    2. Parkinson’s Law

    We finish the tasks and swell them to fit them until our deadline.

    Due to time pressure and knowing that you have no other option than to sit with the work and finish it, chances are most of the time you will succeed.

    The interesting factors here are a sense of urgency and working with essentials. With these two factors coexisting, we can squeeze in the time as much as we want.

    I found that these two methods to be surprisingly effective as Tim Ferris in his 4-hour workweek book suggested that these ideas can work like magic if you combine them.

    In short, limit tasks by using the 80/20 principle and shorten the time required to get these tasks done.


    Form a Good System

    “You do not rise to the level of your habits, you fall to the level of your systems”– James clear

    James Clear in his well-known book Atomic Habits has mentioned the idea of why we should focus on building systems because if there is a fault in our system, we will fail to form good habits.

    To form good systems, we must find a way to connect our tiny choices and point them in a uni-direction with a specific pathway.

    It’s about collective quantities processing in uniformity.

    To build a system, a composition of tiny choices, discipline and consistency are essential.

    Hence, if we take important and accurate choices rather than neglected and easy-going, our course for that particular set will be clear in front of us.

    Poor choices may lead to poor quality of life while good and well-thought choices can be life-changing.

    How to Implement Systems Thinking in Your Daily Life
    There are three major steps: 1. Quantify; 2. Contrast; 3. Iterate

    Want to Gain Clarity in Life? A Well-Organized Note-Taking System is the Answer

    Try to remember what you ate in the afternoon for your lunch. Now try remembering the lunch you had yesterday. Now try for a week. Finding it difficult right?

    While tracking food habits is not the sole purpose of storing information, predicting and understanding our body behaviour certainly is.

    We live in an era where we are constantly bombarded with information and keeping up with it is becoming a challenge.

    A note-taking system stores all the information that our brain could easily have forgotten otherwise. This certainly frees up space in our brain, so it can be engaged in doing active tasks without getting distracted.

    For beginners, I would highly recommend taking notes in Notion. It is simple and fun to use.


    Stick to a Routine

    Whether we are working from home, office or co-working space, we all need something to look forward to.

    We are all distracted and lack a clear vision of what our next major action should be if it is not planned.

    We then stress ourselves and start avoiding the real issue by scrolling through social media or checking emails.

    We put ourselves in the state of ‘pseudowork’. A term that is related to working on aimless goals. In reality, no progress is made. We end up having a sense of doing some work.

    There is a similar article by James Clear related to how being in motion is not where you get results. The actual result kicks in when you take action!

    • For writers and content creators, writing is the motion, while publishing or putting out the content is the action. (Unless you are journaling or taking self-notes)
    • Setting an alarm is motion while waking up to it in action.
    • Thinking of going to the gym is motion while going there and working out is action.

    In a nutshell, the action takes efforts and uncomfortableness, but you see the actual results!

    To make things easier, let me give you an example of what my work routine is like.

    I learned this technique from James Clear’s Atomic Habits. It is called Habit Stacking. Simply put, this method is the combination of small behaviours stacked on one other to get to the actual habit.

    Here, my goal is to write 1000 words today,

    1. After I meditate for 20 min at 7:00 am, I will make myself a cup of chai.
    2. After I make myself a cup of chai, I will sit on my chair and switch on the laptop.
    3. After sitting on my chair and switching on the laptop, I will put my headphones on binaural beats.
    4. After I put my headphones on binaural beats, I will start writing.

    This is my writing routine and it is almost the same if I want to work on other important projects.

    The beauty of this method is that it makes the action part smoother. After a while, it is indeed converted into a subconscious activity and gets easier.

    The key here is to plan and implement.


    The Idea of Perfectionism is Boring

    Striving to be perfect does more harm than good.

    The idea of letting go of perfectionism came to me from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic.

    Wanting to be perfect is a creativity killer and creativity is never defined specifically. We would never know how our work would turn out if we are not willing to take that first step and are not willing to take a risk.

    I wanted this blog post to be as perfect as it can get. This led me to procrastinate. Until I realized that what I want cannot happen. There are going to be mistakes and I should face them.

    Many of us postpone what we want to do because we feel that we are never good enough. However, many of us failed to understand that it is never going to be ‘good enough ever. When we get there, we always find ways to pick out flaws and find a reason to put forward that half-finished dream project.

    The Subtle Art of Letting the Idea of Perfection Go
    Perfection is not the way; it is in the way.

    Learn the Art of Not Putting Things Off

    “You could be good today, but instead you choose tomorrow.” Marcus Aurelius

    Knowing that we always have tomorrow to act upon our goals is comforting. I get it. But tomorrow never comes and what if it really does not? Furthermore, all that we are left with would be regret for not taking actions before.

    Procrastination is a condition where we tend to put off the tasks that we are supposed to do.

    It is like a pit of smooth sand, the more we dig, the deeper we go and it takes more force to come out of it. Yes, Procrastination can be one such thing.

    We think that we have time. We put the task off. We convince ourselves just one YouTube video and I will get back to working/studying but that never happens. Until we realize it’s too late.

    We hurry and have no other option but to compromise on the quality. We can’t help but think that I would have killed it only if I had one more day!

    Here are the two words that helped to overcome my professional job at procrastinating. They are,

    JUST START!

    Here is how you can instantly jump off of your bed, put that cell phone away and start working.

    I took this idea from the 5-second rule from Mel Robbins. You can view her article here.

    “The 5 Second Rule is simple. If you have the instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it.”

    If you want to go to the gym but do not find a good enough reason and are thinking to put it off till tomorrow, then close your eyes, breathe, and start the countdown 5…4…3…2…1…Up and move!

    Most of the resistance will only happen in those 5 seconds I promise. Once you tied the shoelaces, you will feel determined to work out.

    Remember that tomorrow will never come unless you act today.

    All we need is that small push of 5 seconds to not put important tasks off until tomorrow.


    Deep Work

    According to a famous book writer Dr Cal Newport

    “Deep Work is a Professional activity performed in a distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limits”

    Remember when we get an utter need to check our Instagram in the middle of our work and our subconscious supports our thought, without a second thought, we unlock our phone. Two hours and an indefinite number of scrolls later, there we are stressing up on how to cover up the wasted time.

    Things might get out of control when you can’t control your distractions sometimes.

    By doing deep work, you can get through difficult things quicker.

    The main intention behind applying this theory is to eliminate all the distractions and to shift our focus on one particular topic for a long period.

    Dr Cal Newport also adds to his writing that this skill of deep work is becoming increasingly valuable as it is increasingly becoming rare as we are in a state of constant distraction.

    By working deeply, we get to absorb more information. The quality of information intake can also be increased as time goes by.

    After reading the book, I have tried consciously making a habit and set aside 2-time slots per day for deep work. These time slots are usually 90 min each.

    For continuing this work pattern, I saw significant positive changes. Some of them were

    • It got me into momentum. Now I do not feel like not working and breaking the chain.
    • My productivity and confidence in task handling skyrocketed.
    • I can think clearly and precisely. I learned to set my priorities and work on them and get it done surprisingly before my deadlines. (I used to be a professional procrastinator once)
    • I feel satisfied and fulfilled at the end of the day.

    How you can start it

    1. Start to figure out when you will be available to do deep work. Block that time on the calendar.
    2. Ensure that there is no distraction while starting. Switch off or put your phone on do not disturb and block all the potential destructive websites.
    3. Start small.
    4. Find yourself a quiet spot to work.
    5. Lastly, do not forget to reward yourself.

    Conclusion

    Here are the 7 hacks in short if you are running short of time.

    1. Prioritize your most important tasks

    Limit tasks by using the 80/20 principle and shorten the time to get these tasks done.

    2. Form a good system

    To build a system, a composition of tiny choices, discipline and consistency are essential.

    3. Want to gain clarity in life? A well-organized note-taking system is an answer

    A note-taking system stores all the information that our brain could easily have forgotten otherwise. This certainly frees up space in our brain, so it can be engaged in doing active tasks without getting distracted.

    4. Stick to a routine

    The beauty of this method is that it makes the action part smoother. After a while, it is indeed converted into a subconscious activity and gets easier.

    The key here is to plan and implement.

    5. The idea of perfectionism is boring

    Let go of the idea of perfectionism as it can be self-destructing too.

    6. Learn the art of not putting things off

    All we need is that small push of 5 seconds to not put important tasks off until tomorrow.

    7. Deep Work

    Block Distractions, Start Small, Reward Yourself, Repeat.

    These are the 7 hacks! You can bookmark this page to return to it as you please. I would recommend starting with anyone hack and keep experimenting.


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