Productivity Tools can be really handy if you are prone to procrastinating.
Most of us face the same challenges each day: too many tasks on our to do list and not enough time to complete them. Perhaps your inner dialogue goes something like this:
“If I just focus on getting it all done, skip lunch and work longer hours I’ll achieve all I need to do.”
Previously, my “Pernickety Procrastinator” often hijacked my well laid planned projects at the last minute and I sometimes got completely stuck in my analysis paralysis rabbit hole.
Nowadays, thankfully, my “Productivity Junkie” comes to the rescue and reminds of a few productivity strategies that had helped to overcome previous procrastinating.
If you’re struggling with a similar dilemma:
Here’s some Productivity tools:
So what does science tell us about productivity?
According to numerous neuroscientific findings, our brains are wired for solving problems connecting dots and new ideas, not for storing information that we can simply externalise.
Several studies also strongly indicate that multitasking is a myth. The brain is simply not built to focus on more than one thing at once, it can’t even focus on two things at once.
Instead, it rapidly switches between them and creates the illusion that you’re doing more than one thing at a time.
The harsh reality is that just because you feel productive doesn’t mean you are.
Most of us want to be more productive, but finding the method that works for you among the hundreds and hundreds of different tips, tricks and hacks can be vey daunting.
After graduating college, Chris Bailey decided to dedicate a whole year to doing just that he turned down lucrative job offers to pursue a lifelong dream—to spend a year performing a deep dive experiment into the pursuit of productivity, a subject he had been enamored with since he was a teenager.
Among the experiments that he tackled: Bailey went several weeks with getting by on little to no sleep; he cut out caffeine and sugar; he lived in total isolation for 10 days; he used his smartphone for just an hour a day for three months; he gained ten pounds of muscle mass; he stretched his work week to 90 hours; a late riser, he got up at 5:30 every morning for three months—all the while monitoring the impact of his experiments on the quality and quantity of his work. The results were often surprising!
Lesson one: The rule of three (ie: if you only accomplish 3 things today what would they be). Goals should be simple and ideally in line with your values. This is because the brain trained to think in 3s: beginning, middle and end.
Lesson two: Have a dedicated maintenance day for groceries and household chores etc instead of spreading throughout the week whilst listening to music or a podcast.
Lesson three: Have a brain dump. This includes making a to do list to give your brain more space to solve problems, also record meetings and appointments on calendars instead of memorising you need to buy groceries etc.
Lesson four: Multitasking is a myth. As explained earlier, the brain is simply not built to focus on more than one thing at once. The only exception is when one of the tasks requires very little attention such as doing chores or listening to music or watching Netflix and eating chocolate.
Many studies indicate that people who multitask are more prone to errors and it takes longer to get work done because it costs time and attention to switch between tasks.
Focusing on one task is a difficult habit to develop owing to distractions such as: texts, social media constantly trying to steal your attention so make a conscious effort to push back against a wandering mind and continually bring your attention back to most important activity.
This will eventually strengthen your attention muscle over time and help you take charge of your brain instead of your brain controlling you.
The more you know about yourself, the more you can tailor your environment, schedule, tools, and priorities to fit your natural inclinations and strengths. You’ll not only be more efficient and productive, you’ll also enjoy your work more when you customize how you work to fit who you are.
Priotitizers prefer logical, analytical, fact-based, critical and realistic thinking. They use time effectively and focus on the highest value tasks, accurately completing significant amounts of work. They analyze project goals and strive the desired outcomes.
Planners prefer organized, sequential, and detailed thinking. They create to-do lists, set aside time for tasks, and prepare thorough and accurate project plans. They don’t waste time on anything unproductive or unimportant. They comply with laws, policies, regulations, and quality and safety criteria, and they frequently complete work ahead of deadline.
Arrangers prefer supportive, expressive, and emotional thinking. They encourage teamwork to maximize output, and they make decisions intuitively as events unfold. They block off time to complete work but excel at partnering with others to get it done. They communicate effectively, which helps them build and lead project teams. They tend to maintain visual lists, often using color.
Visualisers prefer holistic, intuitive, integrative thinking. They manage and juggle multiple tasks while still seeing the big picture. They’re known for creativity and innovation and for synthesizing others’ disparate ideas into a cohesive whole.
They think strategically about projects and work quickly to execute tasks. They tend to maintain visual lists, often using colour.
Once you know what your preferences are, you can identify what your colleagues’ are, often by listening to their speech patterns, Tate says. Then, you can tailor your responses to them based on their style.
If your manager is a Prioritizer, Tate suggests answering their “What” questions up front. Lead the conversation with an answer to “What’s the data? What is the outcome?” and other “What” questions they may have.
If you’re working with a Planner, the question becomes “How?” Tate says. “How has this been done in the past? How are we going to do it?” These questions are focused on the process of how the project will be completed.
An Arranger is concerned with the “Who?” questions. “Who are the key stakeholders? Who will be impacted by the project?” Answer these questions for the Arranger and they’ll be more receptive to your comments.
With Visualisers, the “Why” matters most, Tate says. “Why are we doing it this way instead of that way? Why does it matter?” Always provide the big picture and connect back to strategy, she suggests.
By answering the essential question for your manager or colleagues based on their style, you can reduce some of the friction teams face working together, Tate says. It won’t eliminate all clashes that may arise throughout a project, but it can help you communicate with and better understand where your colleagues are coming from.
You can take a test to discover your productivity style here: