Productivity is the result of simplicity. The simpler your daily routine, the less you’ll be inclined to fall victim to distractions and lose your focus. In short, to increase your productivity, simplify.
Structuring your days according to simple rules is the best way to get more done.
Rules that will increase your productivity
That’s where the following principles come into play. By working consciously — instead of performing tasks on autopilot, setting up the right environment, ranking to-dos, and controlling idleness, your productivity will skyrocket.
On this basis, here are four simple rules that will increase your productivity every day.
Rule #1: Turn off the autopilot
In his 2018 book Hyperfocus, Chris Bailey writes the following:
“The environments in which we live and work, unfortunately, have their own agenda for claiming our attention, bombarding us with alerts, notifications, beeps, and buzzes.”
Most of us spend our days working and living on autopilot.
We wake up and mindlessly scroll on social media feeds. We leave the unattractive work as late as possible and use every possible opportunity to give in to distractions.
The worst thing about this state of mind is that we don’t even notice. We’ve become so accustomed to our lack of focus that we believe it’s the norm.
That’s why we need to turn off the autopilot.
It starts right after waking up.
To become more productive every day, the first ten minutes of your morning are crucial. In many instances, they decide how your morning goes, and your morning determines how the rest of the day goes.
In that same vein, every time you spend five minutes scrolling down Tiktok without noticing, you become more used to your lack of focus.
Here’s a little exercise: track your autopilot. Make a note every time you become distracted or perform an activity without noticing. The fewer notes you have, the closer you’ll get to defeating your autopilot.
Rule #2: Ensure the best deep work conditions
Switching off the auto-pilot is about self-discipline, but rule #2 is nothing more than preparation.
In Deep Work, Cal Newport explains how you can identify the best possible conditions for productivity:
“There’s no one correct deep work ritual – the right fit depends on both the person and the type of project pursued. But there are some general questions that any effective ritual must address:
- Where you’ll work and for how long;
- How you’ll work once you start to work;
- How you’ll support your work.”
These elements can make or break your routine.
If you don’t set a time limit for your tasks, you run the risk of getting distracted at every turn or trying too hard.
Likewise, “how” you’ll work sets out the rules when it comes to breaks, intervals, and task management.
And finally, “how you’ll support your work,” comprises all the details – like a comfortable chair, lighting, background music, and coffee – that can influence your productivity.
By answering these questions right from the get-go, you will start your days in pole position because you already know what to expect and how to stay focused. Now it’s time to rank your tasks for maximum productivity.
Rule #3: Work according to a task hierarchy
One of the best ways to become more productive every day is to understand the concept of “task hierarchy.”
A lot of people struggle with getting things done because they don’t have a ranking. They don’t know what genuinely matters and what doesn’t.
If you have five to-dos on your list for today, and you don’t know which one ranks one and which one ranks five, your susceptibility to distractions will surge.
You’ve probably heard the phrase: “a successful day starts the night before.” In this context, one of the most powerful evening habits is to draft a to-do list for the next day.
To increase your productivity, always separate your tasks into “critical,” “accessory,” and “least important.” By having three categories, you’ll assign a degree of importance to each one without over-analyzing.
After separating them into sections, make a ranking, and create a killer to-do list that you’ll actually complete.
Rule #4: Know when to be lazy
Productivity and laziness are not mutually exclusive.
In the words of cartoonist Tim Kreider,
“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence, or a vice. It is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body […] it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”
The idea is simple: add well-controlled stretches or laziness to your work days.
By scheduling breaks during which you allow yourself to aimlessly scroll down social media, watch Tiktok memes, or just sit on the couch doing nothing, you give your brain a chance to switch off and rewind.
And those moments of idleness will make you less prone to succumbing to distractions during your productive hours.
The length of these breaks depends on each individual. As a rule of thumb, five minutes after every 90 minutes of productive work is a suitable benchmark.
The main point is that you have to control these periods of idleness. They only work if they are short and sporadic – not white cards for getting distracted at every turn.
Useful links on 4 Simple Rules That Will Increase Your Productivity Every Day
- More in the section “Work”
- More on the topic “Productivity”
- Read How to Create a Killer To-Do List That Actually Works