My Biggest…and Simplest, Productivity Tip Ever
Being able to think clearly. See the wood for the trees. Concentrate on what really matters – these are things I hear so often from people who want to improve their productivity.
And the answer to be able to do all of these? Quite simply, Clear Your Head. It produces amazing results, and best of all isn’t too hard to do.
Our brain is brilliant, but not totally brilliant. It’s great at holding everything we need to do, but not so good at keeping it all organised. This means thoughts pop up in your head like toast in a toaster. So just when you are sitting down to focus on a big bit of work – pop – your brain reminds you that you need to send that email to Sarah.
Your brain thinks it’s being helpful, and you can’t blame it for trying – you had indeed not quite remembered to email Sarah, but it has also distracted you from what you had just started to focus on.
It can take over 20 minutes to refocus on a task if we are interrupted. And your brain has just interrupted itself. Not an ideal situation for productivity or thinking clearly. Although Sarah might get that email a little sooner now.
So, do your brain and your productivity a huge favour. Get everything out of your head; it relaxes your brain and helps it think in a bigger, more organised and productive way. It literally stops sweating the small stuff when it knows that you have noted it elsewhere, and so it focuses better and thinks bigger.
Here are five simple steps to get you there:
1.Choose your Medium; Whether pen and paper, an app or a spreadsheet. You need something that will allow you to write a list of everything you need or want to do.
It’s best to choose something that allows you to list tasks and sub-tasks. Be wary of procrastinating because you can’t decide what to use – in which case, just start simply with a pen and paper.
Once you have it all out of your head you might find it easier to decide how best to manage it.
2.Find An Hour; Just an hour, or maybe 90 minutes tops. This is so little time compared to the boost it will give you. Try to find an hour in a nice, settled environment.
3.DO IT! Start by writing down each area of your work life and your home life. Every area you can think of, and then below those write down the things you need to do in each, going into further sub tasks or lists when needed.
Squeeze every last thing you can think of out of your head, if you need to get new batteries for the TV remote – put it down.
Once you have everything out of your head you may be saying “OMG, that is so much to do, help!” or “There doesn’t seem as much there as I thought, why was I in such a panic” or somewhere in the middle. What I can guarantee is that your brain will be feeling lighter and more settled knowing that you now have a solid list of everything it has been carrying around for you, and you’ll now be able to tackle it in a more organised way.
4.Create a Simple System: Here the important word is Simple. Whether using an app or a paper to do list.
- Keep making a note of the new things you need to do as soon as they come to you, so they are immediately taken out of your head – I have an app that syncs with my phone, desktop and ipad so wherever I am I make a note.
- Have a little review at the end of or start of the day, so you start work each day knowing what your top priorities are. As everything is out of your head and therefore easier to see this should now be much easier for you. Ensure you are realistic about the length of time things will take.
- Enjoy getting things done in a more orderly way, and take note of which bits of your system are working for you which aren’t. Continually tweak how you run your system until it’s perfect for you.
Lastly, keep with it. Do not get this far and then fail to keep up with getting things out of your head. Changing your habits can be hard. But once you are up and running it is so liberating, and gives a great feeling of being in control with a solid list at your finger tips.
Your brain will love you for it, and repay you by putting all its superb energy into thinking in a bigger, more strategic and focused way.
Good luck and let me know how you get on!