4 Steps to Raise Your Productivity & Consistently Get More OUT OF YOURSELF (Part 1)
Here’s another “old school resurrection”: another classic that I’m reviving just in case you haven’t seen it already and because even if you have, it’s good enough to read a second time. Check out the original response:
The 4 Steps Revisited
Now this is interesting – I was doing some research on productivity and things like that the other day and came across this one site where the blogger said:
“Y’know, one of the major keys to being productive is to just do what you need to do. For instance, a lot of people have programs they want to start and the main reason they don’t get it done or that not it’s successful is because they never sit themselves down to finish doing it…”
Now that’s true, but the first thing I thought after I read that was “C’mon man…if it was really that simple I probably wouldn’t be on your website looking for information in the first place.”
There’s definitely more to it then forcing yourself to the task, because not only is that difficult and unpleasant, it’s also impossible to maintain. You won’t maintain it for the long term simply because it’s difficult and unpleasant: it’ll feel unnatural, and you’ll actually end up subconsciously associating pain with the tasks you need to do to succeed.
So here’s some of the practical things I’ve learned that help me to get more out of myself on a daily basis:
———— Step 1: Stop Allowing Yourself to Be Distracted ————
“Sometimes I don’t even stop to give people autographs, because if I were to do that, I’d never get where I’m going…” ~ Jay -Z
Like I said in one of my notes before, the world is suffering from a chronic case of attention deficit disorder – this age of mass advertising, instant gratification and advanced communication technology (cell phones, e-mail, text messaging, etc.) has brought us to a place where inattentiveness and the inability to focus is the norm, and since we live in a constant state of information overload, we’re actually conditioned to live in a constant state distraction, interruption and inattentiveness.
So one of the major keys to raising your productivity is to stop allowing yourself to be distracted. If you have something to do, stop letting random, trivial interruptions prevent you from doing it, because not only will that take you off track and disturb your train of thought, it’ll also take you longer to establish the flow you were in before you were disturbed. Even further, not only will you not get things done in a reasonable period of time, but (if you take a second to look at the big picture) you’ll actually be sustaining a habit that leaves you incapable of accomplishing the important tasks you need to create the life that you want.
It’s deep, because if your really think about it, every time you allow yourself to get distracted by trivial things, your actually paying for that distraction with your future – meaningless interruption implies the sacrifice of meaningful accomplishment.
So learn to create an environment that systematically shuts out distraction whenever you need to: turn off your e-mail alerts, sign out of facebook, let the important people in your life know that you won’t be available for such-and-such amount of time and leave your apartment and go to the library if you have to. Do whatever you need to do to make a space for yourself free from interruption.
Personally, I turn my phone off except for certain predefined periods of the day and return any missed calls during those times. I’m actually about to make a voicemail greeting that says, “Hey, you’ve reached Bryan Ogilvie, and if you’d like to speak to me directly, try calling back between the hours of a and b or c and d.”
I think you should consider doing the same thing, because if you think about it, most of the phone calls we get are not that urgent at all…
———— Step 2: Free Yourself from the Myth of Multitasking ————
“Multitasking actually decreases your IQ more than smoking marijuana…” ~ business consultant Eben Pagan, referencing a study from the University of London.
Multitasking is not productive, so if want to become a more effective person, let go of it. While there are times in the day when we’re forced to multitask, we’re now at a state where we multitask all the time, and it’s another habit that you’ll need to get rid off if you want to create results.
The idea that multitasking makes us more productive is a cultural myth, and if you do a quick google search for “studies on multitasking” you’ll find out why. Multitasking (and electronic multitasking specifically) reduces our intellectual capacity- it decreases our ability to concentrate, solve problems and think creatively while increasing our stress levels, and it hurts our ability to communicate with other people as well.
This is related to step #1: since we’re constantly being interrupted, we’re constantly trying to get more then one thing done at a time, and this habit leaves us not getting much of anything done at all. If you’re trying to type out an e-mail while you’re on the phone with someone, you’re not going to be as effective in building a relationship in either endeavor. If you’re trying to write an article and do some internet research at the same time (two different activities that feel like they’re one and the same), the research is going to actually distract you from what you were writing…you’ll end up checking out links to completely unrelated information, social networking, and heading down a spiral of useless activities that lead nowhere.
(You might even have “tab-itis“: one of those web-surfing illnesses where you always feel compelled to have 9, 10, 15 or even 20 webpages open at one time, and guess what? When you finally get ready to turn your computer off, you still have about 9, 10, 15 or even 20 webpages open that you “haven’t finished looking at yet.”)
The worse part about multitasking is that it leaves you incapable of developing skill or proficiency at any particular thing. In order to cultivate your talents and turn them into strengths, you need to concentrate on refining the particular dynamics that those talents and strengths are composed of. Does that make sense? If you really want to get “nice” at something, you have to go in-depth and master all the minute details and aspects of that thing, but you’ll never get around to doing that if you’re too busy “multitasking”.
That tab-itis issue was all me last year, and I’d also wasted a lot of food trying to cook and write at the same time: late in the evening I’d realize I was hungry, but rather then take a full break to make something for myself, I’d multitask to “be more productive”…so I ended up burning my dinner instead.
Now like I said earlier, there are times when you have to multitask (because the world we live in forces us to), but if you have goals that you want to achieve, it’s in your best interest to limit this as much as you possibly can.
This is also deep, because when we go to sleep, rather then just lie there and concentrate on getting a good night’s rest, we worry about what we’re going to do tomorrow or review something negative from today, and when we’re talking to someone, rather then just listen and concentrate on what that person is trying to say, we’re actually calculating our next response or thinking of something completely unrelated.
So even when we’re not multitasking physically we’re multitasking mentally, and this “parallel processing” diminishes our ability to extract value out of everything we experience.
The more you have going on, the more you compound this problem, so practice concentrating on one task at a time, and exercise your ability to focus and go deep into the activities you’re doing.
———— Step 3: Always Ask Yourself, “What’s the Wisest Thing?” ————-
(note continued here)