If you ask most people, what hours they would consider their peak periods of alertness, they would say early morning hours. After a good night’s rest, they are fully rested and have the energy to dive into almost any task with greater enthusiasm. It also helps that at those hours, there are often fewer distractions. People are yet to have their first arguments for the day and as a result are often in a happier place.
Unfortunately, the early morning hours are the time that a lot of people waste on trivial tasks. Many people wake up at dawn, reach for their phones and start checking social media. Unless you are managing the social media profile of a company for a living or work in customer care, that is probably not the most productive use of your time. How much more could you get done if you learnt to harness an hour or two each morning?
My previous post was about the reasons you just can’t seem to take that crucial first step towards getting your goals achieved. For many people, fear seems to be the factor that stops them. If you regularly find yourself in a productivity slump, there are a few techniques you can try to help you get in the mood for work. The most difficult step is often the first one.
Schedule your tasks
If you can’t see it, you can’t get it done. Write down what you want to do. Use a to-do list. If you have recurring tasks, try and schedule them for the same time of the week or day. After some time, they will become habits and be easier for you to do. Having a schedule means once it’s time to get a task started, your brain automatically goes into work mode and you can jump into your tasks straight away.
Do you ever have days when you wake up knowing what you are supposed to do but somehow just can’t seem to get started? Days where you know the next step to take because you have written in your to-do list but something stops you taking that first step and building momentum. It’s a fact of life that we will all have good days and bad days. There are a lot of reasons why you find yourself struggling to start tasks. Most of those reasons stem from one thing: FEAR.
Fear of the unknown
Achieving goals requires stepping out of your comfort zone. It is never easy to do that. We are creatures of habit and we like staying where it is safe. The average person is content to do the same things again and again because they are what he/she is used to and that comfort is not something they want to let go off. Working on your goals requires pushing your limits and trying new (sometimes scary) things. If you aren’t ready to ditch the comfort zone, you won’t get started on important tasks.
Technology is supposed to make life easier. You are able to read this article on your device thanks to technology. I have a list of favourite productivity apps that wouldn’t exist today without advances in technology. Used properly, technology can be your best friend as you work towards achieving a more productive life.
Technology, however, is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have apps and resources that can help with your productivity. On the other hand, you have social media and addictive games that are productivity traps.
Distractions are a part of life. When your neighbour says hi while you are in the middle of a complex calculation and you stop to say hi back only to find that you have forgotten what step you were on and have to start again from the beginning, that is a distraction. It is impossible to eliminate distractions from your life. You can’t stop your friendly neighbour saying hi when you’d rather work in peace. You also can’t predict when your children will try to get your attention with the latest picture they have drawn. What you can do is choose how you manage distractions.
Broadly speaking, the distractions we have to manage fall into two categories: internal and external. An internal distraction is you suddenly curious to find out the year popcorn was invented while doing your business accounting. An external distraction is that phone call from your friend while you are in a meeting.
Happy New Year. This is that time when many people create a to-do list for the first two weeks of the year. I have written earlier about why New year’s resolutions are generally a bad idea for most people. Instead of creating a resolution, I advocate writing a personal development plan for the year. It takes longer but is more actionable than resolutions and you will achieve better results.