When we’re chasing after our dreams, whether it’s starting our own business, becoming a freelancer, or anything else, there’s no confusion about the importance of being our most productive selves. We spend too much time dreaming and not enough time turning our dreams into reality. Of course, the trick isn’t to spend more time working, it’s to spend more time being productive. By utilizing these 4 hacks, you’ll quickly see just how much your productivity has increased.
1. Record Your Progress
Say you want to learn a language or an instrument, but you’re starting from scratch. It takes years to master such things and therefore we are easily discouraged from staying on top of it. There is seldom gratification in the short-term and we struggle to stay motivated in the long-term. However, by tracking the progress we make each day, we’re able to more easily witness the benefits of our short-term efforts. Decide to spend 30 minutes each day studying code so you can start building websites and apps, then make sure to record each day you successfully complete at least 30 minutes of study. This way, we not only hold ourselves accountable, but we have the time built into our schedules, and will feel guilty about skipping a day. Motivate yourself to set new records: 5 days in a row, then 30 days in a row, then 6 months. Soon, all your progress will become apparent.
2. Change Your Facebook to a Foreign Language
Social media might be the public enemy #1 in the world of productivity. This hack won’t totally quell the urge to check on it, but it will certainly slow you down. When you instinctively pull up Facebook, having something other than your native tongue (bonus points for using the local language) will be like a splash of water to your face, alerting your brain to stop behaving on autopilot. You’ll spend significantly less time mindlessly browsing. Plus, you’ll pick up a few words and phrases in whatever target language you’re studying, which will help you in whichever country you’re traveling. And, as numerous studies have shown, learning new languages increase your brainpower.
3. Adjust Your Morning Routine
This hack comes in 3 parts, because that’s how productive you can be once you begin utilizing it. First, change the way you breathe. After waking up, sit up in your bed and take a deep breath. Don’t exhale! Hold it, and take in another breath, as much as you can. Again. Again. As much as you can. Hold it. Finally, exhale. Do you recall the scene from Fight Club when Brad Pitt explains oxygen masks drop from the ceiling before a plane crash because it gets people high enough to calm down? Well, it’s not entirely true, but like most exaggerations, there’s an element of truth in it. Second, have a glass of water before your coffee. Chances are, when your 4pm sluggishness kicks in, you don’t actually need another cup of coffee. You are tired most likely because you are dehydrated. Being dehydrated has very poor effects on your mind and on your body. Make sure you’re getting enough water! Third, start wearing a uniform. Steve Jobs: turtle neck. Mario Batali: crocs and a vest. Louis CK: black t-shirt. These top performers in their field have all adopted this idea, which works especially great for travelers because you don’t see the same people every single day and you can lighten your backpack. However, the idea is to simplify these less important decisions to save yourself time and to dedicate more of your brainpower to being productive.
4. Stop Being a Perfectionist
Just get started! We procrastinate because the task before us is either too overwhelming, or we aren’t sure we’ve figured out the best way to go about it. What’s the best opening line I could write? What banner would look the best at the top of this page? We are often our harshest critics when it comes to being creative, and while this often brings out the best in us – eventually – it also causes a dilemma. We elevate our expectations to such levels that we develop a fear of falling short. Just get started, and take comfort in knowing that no matter what, you can always revise.
Striking a balance between work and happiness is a never-ending quest, and for many lucky people, their work does make them happy. While trying to improve productivity, remind yourself what success looks like to you, and don’t fall into the trap of trying to get more and more done without ever enjoying the fruits of your labor.
This article was written by Joseph Shiovitz.