6 Ways To Get More Productive and Quiet Stress (Part II)


This is a continuation of part I. Go here, if you want 1-3.

4. Prioritizing and single-tasking

When people say they’re busy, it’s usually a boast disguised as a complaint. Instead of prioritizing and doing less, many people choose to run faster and do more. Willpower or working harder isn’t the answer.

Don’t mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get faked out by being busy. The question is: Busy doing what?

Jim Rohn

Why does a shorter workweek increase productivity? It’s simple: because your deadline is proportionally shorter. Tasks take weeks if you plan for it. Cut the deadline in half, and you will miraculously get it done in time. The less time you have, the more you prioritize, focus, and avoid procrastination.

But how do you prioritize effectively? I’ve found nothing more lucid than the Urgent-Important Matrix – also known as the Eisenhower Matrix.

Here’s how the Eisenhower Matrix works:

  • Important and urgent: Do it now!
  • Important but less urgent: Schedule
  • Urgent but less important: Delegate to others
  • Not urgent and not important: Never do it

People tend to choose what’s easy over what’s important. Use this matrix to make sure you always start the day with important, urgent matters that demand more of your concentration.

Other than being much more productive, you limit choice and remove overwhelm by using the Eisenhower Matrix.

5. More JOMO and less FOMO

Did you ever get jealous when you saw one of your friends post a picture of themselves having a great time? Or maybe you bought a stock, even when it was too expensive, but because its price seemingly kept soaring?

There are many symptoms of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) other than the above examples. FOMO causes procrastination, lack of focus, burnout, or buying things you don’t need. It’s a sure way to stress and feeling inadequate because you’re always on the look for something better.

Enter JOMO.

Joy of Missing Out is the exact opposite. You start to focus on your goals and activities while caring less about what others are doing all the time. With JOMO, you’re present in the moment, enjoying what you’re doing right now instead of tweeting about it – or stalking others online.

3 JOMO things that immediately makes you more productive:

  1. Don’t check work email at nights or during weekends. It only takes 30 seconds, right? Wrong. If there’s just one mail that requires your response (like issues at work), it steals your attention on the spot. No exorcist can extract this devil. You need to avoid the temptation to check work emails during weekends – you might find stuff that can’t be fixed before Monday anyway.
  • Never just browse your social media feed. You always think, “this will only take a minute.” After your 15 inches of scroll, you check your watch and realize that you went down the rabbit hole for half an hour. Now, you’re overstimulated with comments, colors, videos, and a little anger, gossip, and fear. No wonder your brain is frying after this experience. Decide which days and for how long you are allowed to scroll through your feed. And keep a timer close.
  • Quit the news. Plane crash in Turkey. Government officials charged with bribery. Bomb explodes in Pakistan. World record in speed skating. Ask yourself, do you need to know all of this? As author Rolf Dobelli writes: “We are incredibly well informed, yet we know incredibly little.” Name just one thing from the news this past year that helped you forward in life or your business. You can’t trust news media if you want to understand the world. So just quit it.

6. Schedule tomorrow the night before

It seems the busier my week is, the more I forget. And the less I plan, the more I procrastinate. Maybe this seems familiar to you.

If you suffer from half my amnestic tendencies, you too will significantly increase your productivity from this next tip. It’s this:

If it’s not in your calendar, it doesn’t exist.

Always schedule the most critical work in your calendar – and nowhere else. Your calendar tells you exactly when you do it and how long you have to finish. Moreover, you can plot in your most important tasks around planned meetings, if any.

To-do lists are okay, but only as a sidekick to your calendar. Lists are much easier to ignore. And you rarely reserve the necessary time needed, which means that you underestimate how long things take. Furthermore, lists tend to get longer and longer, and you probably glance down and decide to do number 8 (because it’s easier or feels nicer) when, in fact, tasks 1, 2, or 3 are more important. That’s why I prefer a calendar over to-do lists.

So, how many tasks should you schedule in your calendar?

I like to cut the Ivy Lee method in half. Pick just three jobs and force yourself to prioritize the most important things. Use the Eisenhower Matrix described earlier if you have trouble choosing.

When is the best time of day to get things done?

Based on research, I suggest you work on your most important and analytically demanding tasks in the morning. Eat your biggest frog early, as Brian Tracy would say.

Then, schedule planning, administration, or routine jobs around noon. Just before lunch, you could also plan for 15-30 minutes to answer emails – and never return to your inbox before the next day same time.

Tasks that require less analysis, and is heavier on idea generation or creativity, can be scheduled in the afternoon.

Being a great planner and putting everything into your calendar is the foundation of a calm, focused, and productive day. On the opposite, if you fail to plan tomorrow in your calendar, you will most likely have a scattered and stressful day without progress.

Finally, do a quick review of today before you plan tomorrow:

  • Did your day go as planned? Why, or why not?
  • Did you learn anything?
  • Any areas you need to improve tomorrow?
By Kristian Magnus

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