Productivity is a quality super successful people share. Or more accurately, consistent
productivity (as opposed to fits and starts
productivity) is a quality super successful people share.
Being more productive more of the time is strongly determined by the quality of the underlying thinking. It’s our quality of thought that sets our day up right, that installs positive habits, that maintains our discipline and that gets us focused on the important 20% that delivers 80% of the result.
So what can we do to supercharge our brain to supercharge our productivity? Here’s a brain-based approach.
One priority task, first thing
Your brain is a serial processor: it can only work on (meaning: consciously think about) one thing at a time. Your brain is also energy-intensive. And new thinking takes a lot of energy. So in those first few hours, before your brain has fatigued with the day-to-day: focus on one priority task.
Keep your To Do list light
The brain is a connection machine. And as much as it loves to make new connections, it also dislikes leaving connections open and unfinished. A huge list of tasks you’ll not get to is exactly that – one big unfinished connection which is going to leave you feeling distracted and uncomfortable. Keep your To Do list short and for small routine tasks only.
Put big thinking tasks in the diary
Our modern world is not particularly setup for thinking time: we’re too plugged-in for that. So put the big thinking tasks not on your To Do list, but on your calendar. Respect and commit to your focused thinking time – and switch-off the tech when you get there.
Use your notebook
Your conscious thinking brain is limited in its capacity. Help it out by keeping your notebook with you and writing everything down. This is not the same as dumping tasks on a transient To Do list. This is about capturing in the moment the bigger, longer-term thoughts, ideas and plans: to free-up your mind.
Watch for the constant distractions
The brain is easily distracted: any excuse will do. And in email notifications, we all have a constant source of distraction, on-tap. Combat that by scheduling just a few times throughout the day to process email. You’ll get through your email quicker (the brain loves to do lump like-thinking together); and you’ll give your brain permission to focus on something else in the non-email time.
Challenge your autopilot
Our brain loves to drop into autopilot: it’s a huge energy saver! But that can lead to persisting time-wasting habits, saying “yes” to things we should be saying “no” to, and losing sight of the all-important 20% that delivers 80% of our results. We know what the busy-work is. Take a mental step back and remind yourself of the important outcomes to focus on.
Have a brain-friendly morning routine
Give your brain not just the nurture it needs of a morning (sleep, water, breakfast, exercise, mindfulness) , but also the motivating sense of satisfaction and pride in achieving something. So: make your bed. Go for your run. Whatever it might be, set the achievement tone for the day: your brain loves that feeling. And that feel-good will spill-over into the day.
Fuel your brain
You have limited time in a day, so make it count by increasing your energy to increase your focus, attention and productivity. There’s a lot you can do to stay energised. Start with these three simple rules: Don’t skip sleep. Don’t skip meals. Don’t skip breaks. Sleep is your brain’s recovery time. Meals are your brains fuel. And breaks are your brain’s opportunity to integrate, embed and recharge.
Keep time for non-work
To be productive, we need your brain to be at its best. And that’s when it gets all the ingredients needed to achieve its perfect neurochemical balance. We find that brain balance outside of work. So: get home for dinner; don’t skip the gym; connect with friends and family; find time to unplug; and get to bed on time!
A brain-based approach to productivity
We so often value our efforts in terms of time spent; but productivity is about the efficient achievement of outcomes. And to be more productive more of the time requires a different approach. A brain-based approach.