Ever feel like a mountaineer whose to-do list is a trembling mountain about to avalanche on top of you? Ever look achingly at your old to-do list like a long-lost love, as your boss dumps an entirely new list of goals on you? You’re not alone.
Various surveys reveal people feel busier than ever before. Yet, studies show that the busyness epidemic is less to do with taking on more things and more to do with the current psychology of busyness caused by things like the digital era and the sense of always being on. These factors can be detrimental to your productivity.
Thankfully your busyness mindset is within your control. You can be more productive by using these simple, science-backed brain hacks, so you and your to do-list can skip off into the sunset and live happily ever after.
Stop being your worst enemy
Nearly a quarter of adults around the world are chronic procrastinators, according to Joseph Ferrari professor of psychology at DePaul University. Time management is not the solution, Ferrari explains, self management is. According to Ferrari there are three distinct causes of procrastination: fear of failing to impress, fear of not meeting self-set expectations and not wanting the fun of a project to end. So to bring that dillydallying to a halt, a chronic procrastinator must forget about working faster and focus on addressing these three issues first.
Try the pomodoro technique
The effectiveness of this seemingly simple technique will astound you. The idea is to choose a task to which you dedicate 25 minutes, focusing solely on that and nothing else. After every 25 minute segment, or pomodoro (Italian for tomato – the person who came up with the idea originally used a tomato shaped kitchen timer), put a tick next to the item and take a short break. After four pomodoros you get a longer break. You will be amazed how productive you can be in a distraction free 25 minutes. You’ll also become frighteningly aware of the factors that are stopping you from progressing. Including, possibly, your ever reducing attention span caused by a digital lifestyle.
Eat an elephant
As the saying goes: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (Just make sure you use loads of tomato sauce because elephant undoubtedly tastes disgusting.) The point of this (kinda gross) saying is that when you look at something as a whole it becomes stressful. The best way to take on a project is to break it down into smaller, more digestible tasks to avoid overwhelm. Many studies show that overwhelm has an adverse impact on productivity and can even create the illusion of being busier than you actually are. So grab a knife and fork and just get started on that tail.
Delegate some work
Delegation is bound to be the next buzzword of the zeitgeist. Gone are the days where we had to spend hours on tedious jobs or fight dinosaurs on our way to the office. There are so many task-outsourcing companies online these days it’s a simple project (to add to your mammoth to-do list). Not convinced? Grab a calculator, add up the amount of hours you spend in a week on menial tasks and times that by your hourly wage. Technically, there’s every chance, you’re actually paying money to do the jobs you hate most.
Pop a Berocca
Studies have shown that a B-complex vitamin can increase productivity and decrease occupational stress. It is particularly effective if you happen to be alleviating your stress with the occasional post-work tipple. It’s a no brainer, but many people are so swept up in the busyness vortex they often forget about the simple techniques that can have a profound impact on their general well being, which, in hand increases your overall productivity.