7 Different Ways to Boost Your Productivity, All Backed by Science (So You Can't Go Wrong!)
What’s the secret behind the most productive people in the world? Productivity formulas.
Every one of us makes hundreds, if not thousands, of small to big decisions on a daily basis. So, the way to have a higher quality of life is to make higher quality choices every day.
This could be deciding who we spend our time with, what we spend our time doing, or how we approach the projects we’re working on.
Any one of us can lead a more successful life by using proven formulas that have been designed to help us work more effectively every day. We’re going to share with you how to increase productivity using our seven science-backed strategies.
1. Choose Your “One Thing”
The “one thing” was popularized by bestselling author Gary Keller, who built the number one real estate company in the world using this framework.
Most of us focus our efforts on completing small tasks that don’t help us get to our end goal, and the “one thing” helps us focus on a single activity, task, or decision that makes all the difference.
To understand how this works, you should look at your list of tasks to complete or the goals you have for today, this month, or this year, and ask yourself: “What’s the one thing that you can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
For example, if you want to:
- Learn a language, you could focus on just improving your speaking skills with a native speaker
- Grow your business, you could hire a salesperson instead of trying to do everything on your own
- Lose weight, you could eat a healthy snack and skip lunch
You can also apply the “one thing” into your daily tasks using this free tool.
2. Try the 5 by 50 Productivity Formula
Brendon Burchard, who’s recognized as one of the world’s top high-performance coaches, designed a framework called the “productivity formula.” His theory is by carving out 50 minutes to do five of his recommended activities, we’ll lead happier and more productive lives.
- 50 minutes of more sleep: Most of us are not getting the ideal amount of sleep time we need to function properly.
- 50 minute morning power blocks: Our mornings are the most important part of the day, since willpower is a limited commodity for all of us. Spending our morning to focus on our most creative or hardest tasks allows us to do our best work.
- 50 minute block times: As the saying goes, “What’s not on the schedule doesn’t get done.” If there’s a major project that you need to complete or a skill you want to learn, we need to block out slots in our schedule to do them.
- 50 minute renewals: Carving out time for ourselves to self-reflect, recover, and renew our thoughts and bodies is one of the best investments we can make. This is why we love to recommend renewal activities like meditation and daily journaling to our team.
- 50 minute breaks: Our bodies were not built to sit on a chair for long periods staring at a computer screen. Many studies have shown that our level of productivity significantly drops once we’ve hit 50 hours a week.
This is why we also recommend you…
3. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique was named after the Pomodoro timer used during cooking. The creator of the technique, Francesco Cirillo, recommends that we break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
Here’s how it works:
- Choose a task to be accomplished.
- Set your timer to 25 minutes
- Work on the task until the it rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
- Take a short break (five minutes is OK)
- After doing this four times, take a longer break (15 to 30 minutes)
- The work period you set before you take a break is something you should experiment for yourself. For some people, it could be the recommended 25 minutes, or it could be 45 minutes for others.
You can practice the Pomodoro Technique on your phone, desktop, or tablet using these extensions and apps:
- Marinara Timer (web)
- Tomighty (Win/Mac/Linux)
- Pomodorable (iOS X)
- Simple Pomodoro (Android)
- Focus Time (iOS)
4. Write a Not To-Do List
Most of us use to-do lists to get things done. While these can be effective, it’s often just as important to know what you shouldn’t do.
Jack Dorsey, Founder of Twitter and Square, is a big advocate of creating a “not to-do list.”
To make one, reflect on the bad habits that are distracting you from focusing and getting your best work done and write them down.
- Checking email too often
- Going on Facebook and Instagram
- Having many tabs open
- Working too long
5. Schedule “Blank” Times
According to Professor Jonathan Schooler from UC Santa Barbara, “Daydreaming and boredom seem to be a source for incubation and creative discovery in the brain.” Sometimes productivity doesn’t come from just getting more things done in less time. There’s always more than one path to answering how to increase efficiency, and giving ourselves the time to simply think can help us identify what these alternative solutions are.
CEO of LinkedIn Jeff Weiner goes as far as intentionally blocking off time in his busy schedule to simply sit and think. He says that these free moments are helpful for:
- Uninterrupted focus
- Thoroughly developing and questioning assumptions
- Synthesizing all of the data, information, and knowledge that’s incessantly coming your way
- Connecting dots
- Iterating through multiple scenarios
“Whatever you do, just make sure you make that time for yourself—every day and in a systematic way—and don’t leave unscheduled moments to chance. The buffer is the best investment you can make in yourself and the single most important productivity tool I use,” he states.
6. 80/20 Your Life
The 80/20 Rule (also known as Pareto’s Law) is another way of framing the “one thing.”
The logic here is that few things truly matter, and that 80% of the results we desire come from only 20% of the inputs.
Here are a few time wasters that a lot of us spend energy on:
- Answering and checking emails in the morning
- Trying to satisfy low-end customers
- Trying to learn everything yourself, instead of hiring a coach, mentor, or teacher who has already achieved what you want
- Pleasing people who don’t have your best interest at heart
To apply this in your own life, make a list of goals or tasks you have—professionally and personally.
Then, find the 20% of things that are driving the 80% of results for you. This could be the 20% of people driving the 80% of your happiness, 20% of customers driving 80% of your sales, 20% of routines driving 80% of your health.
Lastly, let’s focus on how to increase productivity through helping you win back more time.
7. Make Three Lists of Freedom
According to author and entrepreneur Chris Ducker, who runs a virtual assistant company, the way to find more time in our lives is to delegate the tasks that we can’t do, shouldn’t do, or hate to do.
Most of us can wrap our heads around outsourcing tasks we can’t do, but too often we spend more minutes than required on tasks that we hate doing or shouldn’t be doing. These are often repetitive tasks that we’re not excited about, like data entry, book-keeping, or emailing.
This is why automation and smart delegation can be one of the best things you can do as a company or as an individual to save more time.
This is why Ducker has designed what he calls the “three lists to freedom.”
First, grab a pen and a notebook. Then, create three columns in your notebook with the categories:
- What you hate doing
- What you can’t do
- What you shouldn’t be doing
Take some time with this, and fill these out throughout the week as you keep track of the unproductive tasks you’re doing.
Once you’ve gathered your three lists to freedom, you can either delegate to someone else, hire someone to complete them for you, outsource it on a community like Fiverr, Upwork, or Freelancer, or ignore it all together.
As you can see, only a few things truly drive the end result you want for your business, career, and personal life. The key is to choose the most impactful activities, and either delegate the rest or ask yourself how important this activity is in the first place to get what you want.
None of this is as easy as it looks, it just requires practice. The key is to use these frameworks as a handbook for making the small to big decisions in your daily life.
This article was originally published on Rype App. It has been republished here with permission.
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Photo of woman working hard courtesy of Corey Jenkins/Getty Images.
Sean Kim is the CEO of Rype, the first language platform to offer 24/7 unlimited private language lessons for busy people. He's also a contributor for Fast Company, Huffington Post, 99U, and several other major media outlets, sharing his thoughts on entrepreneurship, the future of work, productivity, and more.More from this Author