We all struggle with productivity. Some get more things done than others, but we all find ourselves in situations where procrastination hits, and we simply cannot get started. In these moments of laziness, we often resort to space-age productivity techniques. Sometimes, however, simplicity is the way to become more productive.
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We get a trendy standing desk to further our concentration. We turn on the “late-night work chillstep” playlist. And finally, we isolate ourselves in a room to create the ultimate productivity-furthering environment.
All well and good, but sometimes, the best ways to become more productive are actually the easiest.
Having been a full-time content creator for over three years now, I’ve tried every productivity technique known to man. I read dozens of books, watched videos, experimented with meditation techniques, and went on digital detoxes.
Ridiculously easy ways to become more productive
In the end, I found that the best ways to become more productive are the least challenging. It’s all about simplifying your workflow and adding a few steps to your daily routine.
On this basis, here are six ridiculously easy ways to become more productive every day.
Start with nothing
Whenever you have a challenging task on your schedule, the quickest way to productivity is to start at zero.
In this context, I remember pitching a writing project for a client. They wanted three travel-related articles that would promote their destination and asked me to present my ideas.
I spent hours trying to craft the “perfect” presentation. I wanted to showcase why I was the right man for the job. In the end, the slides were convoluted and not reader-friendly. I had just spent four hours trying to showcase my skills, but the result was unsatisfactory.
I made a radical call: instead of sending them ten complicated slides, I got back to the drawing board.
One hour later, I had completed an oversimplified presentation on one slide. It highlighted three points: my experience, my content creation style, and my ideas.
The clients gave me the job. They later lauded my simple way of presenting my project. As such, they wanted my services because they believed that I could apply this straightforward approach to the content itself.
The experience provided a crystal-clear lesson: instead of overcomplicating a challenging task, start with nothing, and focus on the most crucial points. By getting rid of unnecessary complexity, you’ll get more done in less time without losing quality.
Spot and utilize microbursts
One of the easiest ways to become more productive is to take advantage of “microbursts.”
A microburst is a meteorological phenomenon that causes short but powerful winds. Those localized bursts often last less than 15 minutes, but they can cause severe damage.
When we are working on an arduous project, we can experience productivity microbursts.
After taking the first essential step — like starting our essay or making an important call, we often feel a surge in motivation that can lead to short periods of high productivity.
We know that we’ve taken crucial action by commencing — and that knowledge creates a microburst.
It’s during these microbursts that we need to get into a workflow. Utilize those 10–15 minutes to get the productivity train rolling, and you’ll remain focused for the rest of the day.
As an example, starting a writing project is always the most challenging part for me. Resistance is strong, and procrastinating factors lurk everywhere.
Once I’ve written the first sentence, however, I know that the hardest part is done. As such, I spend the next 15 minutes structuring the article and getting as many ideas onto paper as possible. That way, I’ve utilized a microburst to complete the essence of the project.
Make essential tasks easier to start and distractions harder
One of the easiest ways to become more productive every day is to control the starting points of essential but challenging tasks.
In other words, make it easy to start crucial activities.
“We need to either make it a little easier to get started on what’s important now or make it a little harder to do something trivial instead.”
If you have to begin working on a critical work assignment, but you’re struggling with distractions like Netflix, you need to make it simple to start work and harder to watch series.
You could, for example, have the work assignment open on your computer but deactivate the auto-fill of your Netflix password. That way, you can access work without any additional clicks, but you will have to fill in your password to watch a series.
Those tiny steps might seem insignificant as such, but if you apply them to every possible distraction, you’ll make it harder and harder for yourself to stop doing essential work.
Reduce the steps toward productivity
Similarly, another easy way to become more productive is to reduce the steps toward an essential activity.
I always struggled to go to the gym in the morning. The idea of getting my clothes on, walking fifteen minutes to the nearest gym, changing, putting stuff into the locker, and finally starting my training provided a lot of unnecessary excuses. Small wonder that I often yielded to those excuses and didn’t make it to the gym.
One day, I found a perfect antidote. I would leave my gym clothes next to the bed and get dressed right after opening my eyes.
The mini-habit did the trick. I now simply had to put on my clothes and run to the gym. I didn’t go to the locker rooms anymore because I arrived fully dressed.
By making a tiny change to my routine, I had gotten rid of a whole set of excuses by reducing the steps toward my essential activity.
Consequently, ask yourself whether you’re unknowingly taking extra steps that make essential tasks harder. No matter if it’s going to the gym, completing a work assignment, or writing a crucial email — reduce the number of steps to get there.
Recognize when going the extra mile makes sense
In our 21st-century hustle culture, we tend to believe that we always have to “go further” and “do more.”
If I worked a few more hours on my side hustle, I would make 1,000 dollars this month. With one or two more freelance clients, I could quit my 9–5. And a few more all-nighters will finally put me into the boss’s good books.
If you want to become more productive and achieve more, you’ll have to know when it makes sense to work harder — and when going the extra mile won’t have an impact.
Look at it this way, if a surgeon takes an additional step cleaning a wound to prevent infections, that’s an extra mile worth taking. If you, on the other hand, keep trying to add embellishments that won’t make a tangible difference to your work — simply to look busy, you’re going too far.
Whenever you’re working overtime, ask yourself whether your extra mile makes a difference or whether you’re falling victim to your hustle mentality.
In most cases, the answer will be the latter, and you can cut those activities. Once you work on making actual progress instead of “hustling hard,” you’ll unlock new productivity.
When in doubt, ask yourself: what if this was easy?
In a recent ebook, Tim Ferriss shared 17 of his most life-changing questions.
One of the topics is the following:
“What would this look like if it was easy?”
He continues in the following terms:
“If I feel stressed, stretched thin, or overwhelmed, it’s usually because I’m overcomplicating something or failing to take the simple/easy path because I feel I should be trying “harder” (old habits die hard).”
Consequently, whenever you’re struggling with productivity, pause and reflect on what you’re doing. Take a meditative break and ask yourself whether you’re overcomplicating things.
Sometimes it’s hard to admit, but once you genuinely reflect on whether something can be simple, you’ll find the easy path.
This article was originally posted on Medium
Useful links on 6 Easy Ways to Become More Productive Every Day
- more in the category “Work”
- more under the topic “Productivity”
- read 4 Ways to Increase Your Output by Reducing Your Effort
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