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4 Practical Steps To Maximize Productivity

4 Practical Steps To Maximize Productivity

For centuries, actually millenia, one of mankind’s greatest struggles has been finding the motivation to get up and do something that matters. To this day, I can still recall my father reminding me to “do something constructive today” when he would be away from home and I had the benefit of idle time on my hands.

It wasn’t an overbearing admonition, but a simple reminder to invest rather than spend the minutes and hours made available to me. Of course, I didn’t always listen.

In 2017, squandering our time is easier than ever. If Netflix and chill was the only pastime competing for our attention, that “lifestyle” could stand effectively on its own merit. But, alas, it is not.

We have smartphones…with apps! I mean, have you seen these things?!? If iPhones had existed in the 90s, I would’ve never left the house as a teenager. Because I’d be Too Busy…

Setting records on Candy Crush.

Reviewing the latest selfies on Snapchat.

FaceTiming with my people.

Honestly, I’m not sure how today’s generation manages their time at all. The other day, I was watching my seven-year-old play a game on the iPad. I mentioned that there were no cell phones or tablets when I was his age. His response: Were there cars?

And suddenly, I felt very old, very quickly.

With the resources available nowadays, it is possible to be as efficient as ever. However, in order to do so, it requires focus and commitment to your craft—whatever that may be.

There are no shortage of sources with tips offering insight on how to be more productive, less lazy, and, in turn, happier. Thankfully, I’ve taken the time to distill the never-ending supply of information into a handful of trusted resources for your consideration.

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

You’ve heard it before—failure to plan is planning to fail. It’s a maxim that was true then and it’s a maxim that is true now. Cal Newport is a Georgetown professor, author, and dedicated family man.

Despite the incredible demands on his time, he still manages to finish his day by 5:30pm and rarely works on the weekends. Impossible, you say? A closer look at Cal’s habits reveals just how he maintains such a productive schedule.

2. Working Moms of the World Unite

I may not be a mother, but I can see the unrealistic expectations clear as day. The unwritten rules of motherhood require that you raise 2.4 beautiful children, design your home with the flair of a Pottery Barn catalog, maintain a visible volunteer role at the school, shape and tone your body to look as you did in college, and, in your remaining time, grow a successful professional career if you so choose.

Seriously, just writing that wore me out. Now, to be clear, those thoughts were both embellished and FAR from my own views. But, you get the point. It’s not easy being an American mother in the 21st Century.

Some additional thought courtesy of SkinnyMom provide a little more insight on better ways to approach motherhood.

3. Exercise, No Seriously

When you think of laziness, exercise usually does not come to mind. That’s no coincidence. Keeping a regular workout routine can be both invigorating and therapeutic. It goes without saying that exercise comes more naturally to some than others.

But, moving your body does not have to come in a one size fits all routine. If the idea of CrossFit or Boot Camp makes you want to run and hide under the covers with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, there are other options. Take a walk. Go for a hike. Try a yoga class.

Staying active does not mean you have to train for the upcoming Olympics. Find what works for you and develop a routine. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the reserves of energy you forgot existed.

4. Eliminate Those Distractions

We’ve already established the very real obstacles that can prevent us from being productive. If you count yourself among the many who are easily distracted by technology, try the Pomodoro Timer.

For the uninitiated, the Pomodoro Timer is a productivity tool that breaks down tasks into manageable chunks of time. The idea being, if you can work in small bursts punctuated by short breaks, your projects won’t seem as insurmountable.

For every 25 minutes of uninterrupted work (this includes avoiding multi-tasking), a five minute break is the reward. Following four such cycles, a longer 15 minute break is given. I’ve begun using the Pomodoro strategy recently with positive results.

Admittedly, it takes some time getting used to. I found myself wanting to reach for my phone 10–15 minutes into the initial 25 minute cycles, but over time, things have improved. There are a variety of free Pomodoro apps available as well. Give it a try.

We have only one chance in this life. And what we do with our time is completely up to us. I am not a fan of the breakneck pace that some wish to keep. Going non-stop is unhealthy in its own kind of way.

Laziness is far removed on the other end of the spectrum with a healthy work-life balance found somewhere in between. If you struggle with apathy or finding motivation in general, think about how you can employ some of the aforementioned strategies. Maybe it’s time to take a personality inventory or meet with a career counselor to explore a new pathway.

Not looking for a career? Well, volunteerism may be for you. Give some thought to what you value and find opportunities to plug into things that matter to you. Laziness as you know it will become a thing of the past in no time.