Productivity – Is it Habit or Willpower?

We all want to be more productive; we want to accomplish more in less time. Oh, excuse me while I just check this new email that came in on my pop up! I will be right back. At one time or another almost everyone gets motivated to be more productive. We sign up for the latest productivity tools, we multi-task and we work longer hours hoping to get caught up. One second please, someone just popped into my office and asked me to email a document. I need to take care of this right away and it will only take one second. Now, where was I? Oh yes, does this pattern sound familiar?

When we lose our discipline and focus, we also lose our productivity. Research shows that we can achieve sustainable productivity by establishing good habits and discipline rather than through willpower. Here are some tips to establish the habits and discipline for being more productive:

Get started – Begin with the large, difficult and important tasks.

We often make big plans and begin to work on the small, easy tasks.  To be truly productive it is better to simply get started on the real work – begin with those large, difficult tasks and break them into more manageable pieces to make the starting process easier. Once we begin, we have a natural tendency for completion. We all like to know the ending of the book or movie.

Practice Real Time Management.

You may be surprised to learn that world-class musicians do not spend more time practicing, get more sleep on average, spend most of their time on their most difficult tasks, and take frequent breaks. Athletes go all out when they practice drills focusing on improving their particular weaknesses. Developing the habit and discipline to give it all we have got for a productive 90 minutes followed by a short 15 minute break may sustain productivity.

Establish an Accountability System.

Attorney’s keep daily time records with detailed description of work performed, the exact time spent and the client to be billed.If you use a similar accountability system to record details of your tasks and time spent on the tasks during those 90 minute sessions you will begin to see the productive work and actual progress rather than busy work and assumed progress.

Stop Multitasking.

Research is proving that multitasking makes us much less productive even though feels like we are accomplishing more. We often fail to consider the time spent to switch between tasks, to pick up where we left off when returning to a task, and the reduced memory for details.

Organize the Workspace.

Everything on your desk, should be only what you need right now. Everything else should be put in its proper place until you are ready to work on it. This includes digital clutter as well visible clutter. Your desk, floor and guest chairs should not be used for storage.

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