3 Hacks to increase productivity and help you focus
“I just can’t get any work done”
One thing I keep thinking is – this generation is fucked.
We’re all walking around in a herd of emotionless blank faces staring at our screens.
Our phones have truly taken over, which is both AMAZING and terrifying.
Content is everywhere, and our brains are addicted to consuming it, whether it’s Game of Thrones, your Instagram feed or Snapchats. Your brain is in a constant state of consumption.
With all this consumption it’s almost impossible to actually get anything done, how are we supposed to focus when we have the attention span of a brain dead goldfish?
With all this consuming you still have to somehow be PRODUCTIVE.
A word that brings fear into the minds of students, managers and self-employed people everywhere.
Luckily I’ve 3 hacks for you that will help you hard wire yourself to be more productive, focused which will hopefully lead to you being more successful.
- Don’t go on your phone for the first half an hour within waking up
I know when you wake up, you just want to reach over and see if you’ve got any snapchats, how many likes that photo you posted on Instagram has got or if anyone’s actually texted you.
But you need to resist the urge.
When you’ve just woken up your brain is fresh, you need to use this freshness and save your mental energy. The majority of people are going to be the most productive when they wake up – which makes a lot of sense because this is when you’re most fresh.
You can lie to yourself and say you work best late at night, but for most people this is a Bullshit excuse to avoid work in the morning. With their evening actually being spent on Netflix.
If you’ve been following my vlog you know I’m up straight at 5.30AM and jumping into my most important task for that day. Because I know this is the time I’m going to be able to get the most work done uninterrupted.
Not a morning goes by, where I don’t want to check how many new followers I’ve got on Instagram, or if my number of subscribers has passed three. (crying in black and white with a sad song playing).
But I can’t give into my urge to check because this ends up with me checking Instagram, checking emails, and every other task that isn’t really helping me provide value to peoples lives.
All these small tasks that make you feel busy but really you’re just procrastinating.
Ideally you want to avoid your phone for as long as possible, but at least make sure you don’t look at for the first half an hour, until you’re ready to go for the day.
2. Probably my most controversial recommendation – Never Multitask
If you want to be productive, you’ve got to stop multitasking.
“When I study I listen to music, I’m on Snapchat, Instagram and Tumblr. I just can’t figure out why none of this information is staying in my head.”
The business owner who does the accounting, customer service, manufacturing, blog posts and social media – who can’t figure out why they want to kill themselves and why no one is buying their service.
Or the manager who is on the phone, reading the newspaper and eating their lunch.
You might be under the illusion that you’re being more “productive” because you’re doing more things. But you’re not – you’re simply doing a lot of things terribly.
It may seem foreign, strange or darn right crazy to some of you, but one of the best things you can do if you want to be more productive is focus on one task at a time. Because this will allow you to get into a deep state of concentration.
Your brain doesn’t handle multiple tasks well, in fact in reality you’re only ever doing one thing.
Which is why if you have to write a blog post, you can’t be on Instagram.
If you have to fill your tax returns in, you shouldn’t be watching TV as well.
If you have to study you shouldn’t be listening to music (Maybe music without lyrics, but if there’s lyrics you aren’t really studying).
So for the love of god stop doing multiple tasks at once, you’re stressing yourself out, you’re not doing high quality work and you’re never actually getting anything done.
Your phone is actually the problem here again, if you have notifications on turn them off. If you want to be super productive you should get rid of your smart phone all together – but I would never recommend that. Because I would not survive in a world without my phone.
But make sure to turn the notifications off on your phone when you’re doing any work. Because checking your phone when you’re doing something else is “multitasking”.
Long story short, multitasking kills all productivity.
3) You need to start focusing on deep work.
I didn’t come up with the phrase Deep Work. It’s actually from an absolute gem of a productivity book – Deep Work by Cal Newport
Essentially deep work, is when you’re in the “zone”. Do you know when everything is flowing? Where you lose track of time, and it all goes super smoothly when you’re completing a task. You’re laser focused.
Deep work is what every writer, coder and anyone else wanting to complete a task that requires creativity or thought should be aiming for.
But more and more of us are struggling to reach this state of Deep Work because we’re all so distracted.
If you’re at all interested in productivity I recommend you pick it up:
I’m not sponsored by the book, it’s just a fantastic read for anyone interested in productivity.
Basically because of our phones, and all the hundreds of hours of content being created every second. We’re addicted to distraction. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. It’s becoming almost impossible to reach a state of deep work, unless you’re purposely trying to.
It’s becoming increasingly rare and most people don’t actually realize that you can train yourself to be in state of deep work.
In order for me to get into a state of deep work, I now find it relatively easy, but in the beginning it was a nightmare.
- Pick one task you need to do – no multitasking
- Disable all access to the internet, turn off all notifications and hide your mobile phone.
- Work through the first 15-30 minutes of hell, where all you’ll want to do is check your phone.
The first time you do this you might really struggle, you’ll notice how you want to open YouTube, Facebook or check your phone. By the fifteen minute mark you might have even given up. Which is crazy, isn’t it?
But fight through, it get’s easier the more you try. I tend to find when I’m about 20 minutes into the task it begins to become more enjoyable.
While you’re focused on doing your one task you will eventually enter a state of deep work, where it suddenly becomes enjoyable, your ideas will flow and you’ll actually get shit done.
You’ve most likely been in a state of deep work but you probably just labelled it a “good day.”
I find it’s easiest to do at 6AM when the rest of the world is asleep or just waking up.
If you want to know how I get up at 5.30AM without wanting to kill myself you can click here.
I actually was completely unaware of the term “deep work” but when I really thought about it all those times when I was actually doing my best work, where the times when I wasn’t checking my phone but I was just completely absorbed in my task.
Since finding out these hacks and actively applying them, my productivity has increased massively.
Those three hacks may seem simple to some of you but if you actually take the time to implement them into your life, and commit to them you will see a massive increase in your productivity.
So make sure to not go on your phone for at least the first half an hour when you wake up, avoid multitasking at all costs and start focusing on deep work.
If you enjoyed this you’ll probably enjoy Less bullshit, more action where I rant about my least favorite kind of people, those that don’t take action.
Make sure to comment with your own productivity tips, I always love finding new ones out or if you thought this post was complete bullshit let me know.
Share this with anyone you know who never seems to have enough time in the day. You could save them an anxiety task or at the very least give them some free time.
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