Are you also looking for the kind of productivity that gives you a feeling of true satisfaction at the end of the day instead of just a random list of completed chores? A productive space which lets you focus on what you really want? If you do, this might be for you.
When you see productivity in the light of striving for what you truly want, you automatically shift gear – away from just completing tasks randomly scribbled on your todo-list or in your mind. When you take time to think about what is worth doing, which tasks are important and which are less so, you set new priorities.
In this sense, and to help you stay focused on the tasks that are important to you, I share some tips and lifestyle habits:
Here are my 5 tips for satisfying, mindful productivity
1. Put your phone in flight mode
Set your mobile to flight mode and turn off your emails, when you’re on the computer. This is a super simple one, but gives you a major boost when you want to focus on one task or activity – be it a strategic paper or a workout session.
You’ve probably already heard of this little tweak, nevertheless I can’t stress enough how much it helps me to stay focused and not let myself get distracted by messages that are of no importance in that very moment. Additionally, you could leave your phone in another room to not get tempted reconnecting – an awesome extra trick from Melissa Ambrosini.
Putting my mobile into flight mode is actually something I do every day. Not only when I want to work on something fully concentrated, but also when I simply don’t like to be disturbed – for example around dinner time. That’s when I often activate airplane mode and a lot of the time I don’t turn my phone back on until the next morning.
Switching to flight mode has also helped me immensely dealing with stress. I can literally feel how it decreases my stress level. When I’m in my zone or trying to wind down, I wanna be sure I can fully be in my zone and no one disturbs me – no e-mails that trigger me, no calls or whatsapp messages that could interrupt the space I create for myself.
2. Alternate screen & time outside
Alternate the screen and desk with time outside, and break up sitting-thinking sessions with movement! Don’t get dragged into a brain-mushing and not at all productive mode.
From my own experience I know: No one can focus effectively for eight hours straight – or even four. Your brain will start to get mushy. You know it. We’ve probably all been there too many times. After several hours of intense screen work and/or thinking (contemplating one specific topic/problem) you can’t see clearly anymore. You get caught up in your own thoughts. A step back is what you need, a breeze of fresh air sweeping through your tangled synapses.
I do that by going outside or – a simple walk around the block or a stroll to the super market is so refreshing! Time outside, even just 10 minutes help so so much, and you will feel so much better at the end of the day.
If you can’t go outside, integrating some movement into your work day is good, too, however I feel it doesn’t replace a breeze of fresh air. This tip might be more for the freelancers and remote workers amongst us: Get your body going & give your screen-strained eyes a break by integrating a yoga or HIT session in your living room (you could do that on your home office day, too).
Either way: Time outside or just off the desk works wonders! Clears the mind, sparks new ideas and makes you feel good and sexy because you moved your body instead of just sitting on your butt all day.
Interestingly enough, taking time away from the desk is a lesson I didn’t learn in my high-intense 24-h days working in an agency, but during the past couple of years being a freelancer and working a lot on my own.
3. Write a to-do list, prioritize & find your times
I know we live in times of smart devices and apps that brew you coffee in the morning and tell you when it’s time to meditate. Yet, I think, a hand-written to-do list is one of the most simple tools that can help you keep track of what you have to do, want to do, and help you prioritize in an effective manner:
What is unavoidable? What do you have to do so your life keeps running smoothly? And what are the tasks that help you make the milestones a.k.a. the really important stuff for YOU?
Schedule in the big, important bits first: When is the time of the day you are in the best constitution to do them? For creative tasks: When are you most creative? For strategic tasks: What time of the day is your best time to think sharply? For exercise: When do you feel most energetic? (Morning, afternoon, evening?)
Figuring this out has helped me a lot in setting my priorities for the day. I know my energetic and creative heights as well as my energy lulls throughout the day. The morning, for example, has become a much more important time of the day for me than it used to.
4. Focus on less
With the information overload we step into every day, we can easily and completely clutter our minds. Pair this with the big tasks on your to-do list and you’re instantly dancing the restless dance, not able to focus on one thing properly.
That’s why I try and remind myself of consciously concentrating on one, maybe two major tasks at a time. This could be putting your focus on one bigger task on one day, and the next on another. Or it could mean dedicating a few days to one major thing only. The point is: If you jump too much, if you want to do everything at once, you won’t go anywhere. That’s at least my experience. So take the time to concentrate on a certain task or topic. When I do so, I get where I want to go more substantially – and maybe even faster.
The trick: Write down all tasks, choose one or two and put the others on the back burner. Like this, you can fully engage in a topic without loosing sight of the others.
5. Do nothing
What??!! Yes!!! Take an afternoon off. Dedicate a Saturday to just cruising along. Lounge on your couch for an hour and look out the window. Time off takes your mind out of its “power mode” and recharges you. It brings a new perspective to things and helps you stay healthy (and you want this in the long run). It can spark your creativity.
You will feel the benefits of simply doing nothing, I’m pretty sure. By the way: I’m not the only one stepping in for some serious relaxing time. Read Nico’s post (she is a productivity blogger) on how to keep the balance between productivity and sanity. Because “sometimes the most productive thing you can do is to simply relax.” Amen.
What is your experience? What are your hacks for more creativity, focus and being satisfyingly productive?
If you liked these tips, share with who you think could benefit from them! xo, Kat