How to hack productivity and make it available on demand

Quick tips to help you declutter, better manage your time, and find inspiration in the right places

Bhavna Dalal
Updated: Nov 4, 2020 06:54:54 PM UTC
Image: Shutterstock

Think back on those days when you felt like you got a lot done. There is a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment, but you may not be able to keep that up every day. Here are a few tips on how you can hack productivity and make it available to you on demand:

Intrinsic motivation: When motivation comes from doing things that feel satisfying within themselves, you don't even have to try to be productive. You are not doing something to get a promotion, a pay raise or a reward. Research has shown that extrinsic motivation kills productivity. Intrinsic motivation is what inspires athletes to put in hours of work for a race that lasts just a few minutes, or scientists to invest years in research that may culminate into nothing.

If you find yourself doing things that don't fulfil you, question your reasons for doing them. The younger generations value this feeling a lot more, hence the rise in the gig economy. If the situation itself is not motivational, find tasks within that larger activity that inspire you. Say, for instance, you work as an engineer to provide for your family, but your heart belongs to event planning. Take part in the events committee at your workplace for to organise gatherings for Halloween, fundraisers and so on.

When inspiration does strike, act on it immediately. Inspiration does not wait for anyone.

Be mindful of any resistance you may feel. Take care of resistance also as soon as arises. People often try to push through resistance. For example, while sitting to prepare a challenging presentation, if you have trouble concentrating, you work extra hard to force yourself to do it. You see, this is counterproductive. Pushing through resistance will not help; it will only make it worse. Acknowledge and deal with your emotions first.

Another great trick is to do what you are excellent at. This takes a lot less effort. This is the reason for people to be a good fit and in the right roles in the workplace.

Don't think in terms of time spent, but in terms of results and value. Quality of what you produce is vital.

Assess your priorities daily. In this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Changing and Ambiguous) world, prioritising regularly is extremely important. Sometimes you may need to think long term; at other times, short term. It is a fundamental leadership skill. Sometimes relaxing is what must be prioritised.

Do the tasks most challenging when you have the most energy. Imagine sitting down to write a crucial email to upper management, and you start looking at emails and keep getting distracted. You are diluting your energy.

Be cognitive of your capacity to multi-task. Ask yourself, "Is it the best thing at the moment for me, or do I need to focus on one thing only?"

Become aware of where you are putting your energy. So many times, people are placing energy on things that don't actually matter. Keep a journal to notice that for a few days. Are my time and focus going to the things I want them to?

Delegate wisely. A significant hindrance to productivity is poor delegation. There cannot be too much on a single person's plate. You will find that by delegating effectively, your productivity will increase exponentially.

Declutter! Clutter impedes progress. Clutter can be tangible or intangible, mental or physical. It can show up as excessive paperwork, emails, to-dos, your desk, or your office. Create a space for clarity. News can clutter your energy too.

Sometimes even when you are doing all the right things, you still feel low. At such times don't be afraid to stop, reflect, and re-evaluate. If something doesn't feel right or is not working, the timing may just not be correct. Be open to changing course. For example, in the case of the presentation, while you have to do it yourself, maybe reaching out to a co-worker to brainstorm some ideas may be a good thing to do.

Set systems in place. Systems are repeatable processes that you understand and can manage. Suppose you have a business, and you need to get new clients, thinking through and establishing a system, and then educating your team will save you time and effort. Systems, personal and professional, are critical for success.

In conclusion, the struggle is also part of the process. It does not matter how much motivation you have. Some days will be difficult. Embrace this struggle. Don't doubt yourself during setbacks and failures. Also, while productivity is essential, don't measure your worth by your productivity.

The author is Founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners, a Leadership Development company based in Bangalore, India.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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