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How to be Productive - How to Do Less to Achieve More

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

In current times, most of us feel like we are hustling. We are constantly in a state of doing, doing & more doing. At the end of the day we not only feel overwhelmed, but also have a sense of feeling not good enough about ourselves as we are not able to accomplish our never ending to do list! The question is how to be productive & still not be overwhelmed by the list of tasks. How to achieve more by doing less? Here are some tips that help me stay productive:

1. Do Less

This may sound counterintuitive, but it is true. We set high standards for ourselves which leads to setting too many goals. This overwhelms us & reduces our confidence to achieve them. The trick here is to follow the rule of 5. For an entire year set 5 major goals. Then for every quarter set 5 major goals. Further repeat the same for every month, then every week and every day. Every day, set only 5 major goals. The category could be random. Cooking a healthy meal, completing a report, going for doctor's appointments etc. When you have a handful of tasks, your brain works better to complete it. It doesn't feel tired by seeing a list of too many things that need to be accomplished. Then, out of 5 if you complete even 3 goals daily, weekly, monthly or yearly, reward yourself with activity you like to do. For example, I love watching some of my favorite feel good movies. So if I have accomplished even 3 out of 5 goals, I will end my day or week by watching a comfy movie. This gives my brain a reward signal which releases dopamine hormone which is a feel good hormone that further motivates my brain to keep accomplishing the tasks & enjoy it as a game!

2. Simplify

Whenever our brain has to make a choice between a simple task & a difficult one, our brain leans towards the easier option because it requires less energy & effort to complete it. If you have too many tasks which require a lot of effort & mental or physical energy, then unconsciously you will keep delaying the work. Thus, try to fill your to-do list with easy to do tasks. This doesn't mean that we should stop setting challenging goals. Challenging goals are the ones that help you grow. So never stop setting them. Instead break down challenging goals to simple steps & do it one step at a time.

3. The Matrix

I had mentioned about The Matrix in my time management article here. It is an organising tool which will help you to prioritize your work efficiently. The work can be divided into Urgent & Important. Hence, it is important to focus on the important & urgent tasks first, schedule important & not urgent tasks for a later date, delegate not important & urgent tasks and remove not important & not urgent tasks. This will help you focus on what really matters.

4. Make Soul Captain & Brain Manager

We often set too many goals in order to prove a point to people, society or family. This is the ego which is being captain of your Life. It may give short term pleasure but true happiness comes from doing things that nourishes your soul than your ego. So every time you set a goal, do a reality check whether this is something your soul wants or your ego. I have mentioned deeply on how to differentiate between soul & ego in this article here. So make your soul the captain of your life & utilise the qualities of your brain to manage your task at hand. This will help you take tasks that truly matter to you & remove the excess clutter. This will make you meaningfully productive.

5. Focus

The most important reason for being unproductive is lack of focus. We wile away our time in meaningless activities like scrolling through people's lives on Facebook, reading about juicy celebrity gossip, social media etc. If we keep a track of how much hours a day we invest in these activities, we will be surprised to know how much time we could have gained if we did something else. Distractions like these limit our productivity. The solution here is to set a timer of say 30 min & focus on only the task at hand. Put your phone on do not disturb mode. If you achieve a total focus of 30 min without distraction, then you can reward yourself a 5 min break of browsing through your phone or any other distraction you get tempted to check into. These simple tricks have helped me to redirect my focus on the task at hand.

Read my previous article on time management for more such interesting hacks. Life is not a series of tasks in a checklist that need to be ticked. Life is full of possibilities that need to be explored without the feeling of overwhelm. As soon as it starts becoming overwhelming, take a break, rethink your priorities, minimise your to do list & be kind to yourself. Just do things that nourish your soul & remember rest all is clutter. Do not be in a race to be ahead. You are on your Soul's unique Journey. Enjoy & Cherish it! Comment below & share which point you would like to apply for being productive from today.

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