“It’s so easy to stay productive. I just consult my to-do list, start my day fresh at 6 a.m., and plow through until everything is crossed off.”
… Said no busy manager ever.
Truth is, no matter how dedicated we claim to be to “getting stuff done,” it takes work to develop ingrained habits that keep us productive.
But there are a few sneaky (but effective) ways to kick your productivity status into max drive. Try these four tips until they become second nature.
1. To psyche yourself into doing an unpleasant task: Reward yourself afterward.
For example, you always dread a monthly intra-department meeting, but it’s your responsibility to set it up. Start bribing yourself with something pleasant to do after the meeting; say, read something for pleasure or use a 30-minute lunch break to visit a nearby store you’ve been meaning to check out.
Do this for several months, and the prospect of calling those meetings will seem less painful.
2. To get over a “block”: Start a few things at once.
This isn’t about multi-tasking or trying to get too many varied tasks done at one time. The trick is to start similar things at one time.
Say you’ve got to turn out performance reviews fast. If the thought of grinding through one of them before you start another is too painful, start a few at the same time. That way, you’ve started!
Once you get into the habit, you’ll naturally finish some up faster.
3. To meet tough deadlines: Make it a trade-off.
Approach deadlines like a quid pro quo: Arrange it so you have to meet someone else’s deadline or request at the same time you need to get yours met.
If you know you’re counting on something that someone else has to provide to you, it’ll be an automatic motivator to finish what you need to finish for them. It’ll also help you remember when deadlines are approaching.
4. To restart something you’ve stalled: Just work on it for 15 minutes.
This is a trick we can steal from people who dedicate themselves to regular physical exercise: They tell themselves they’re only going to walk, run, bike, etc. for 15 minutes—but once they get momentum, they naturally keep going.
When you have to start a task that you’ve put off but always seems overwhelming before you start, set a timer or your phone alarm for 15 minutes, 20 at most. Dedicate yourself to at least this amount of time to begin it.
Chances are that by the time your alarm sounds, you’ll be into the project enough to just keep going.
Using even one of these tricks to start a work-smarter habit can help you start 2017 off ahead of schedule.
Do you have a secret trick you use to work smarter? Share it in our comments section!