Two more super easy productivity tips

Written by  //  May 18, 2013  //  Daily Juice  //  No comments

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Back on the theme of getting more done in less time here are two super-easy productivity tips. As I’ve mentioned before I’m on an ongoing quest to be more efficient. My two big hiccups are distractions (Facebook, email, tidying my office) and boring stuff (paperwork and home stuff like putting the washing away!). Anyway, I think I’ve found a solution! And I thought you might like them too.

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1. Three songs

This tip came from my friend Emma Bell. Emma runs Fairy Footsteps Ballet for pre-schoolers and does a ton of other stuff too. She uses the three songs trick to fit in exercise (details at the bottom if you’re interested in how to make this work for exercise) but I’ve morphed it into a trick to fit in boring tasks.

It’s this simple. Keep a list of boring tasks. Twice a day (or more often if needed) pick 3 songs, start them playing and do your boring tasks for as long as the music lasts. Then, like musical chairs, dash back to your desk/kitchen/workspace when it stops.

It’s that easy. But it’s so fun it works!

2. On the hour

This is a good one if you need to wean yourself off a distracting habit.

Lots of us find it hard to concentrate for long stretches. Because of that we often stop whatever we’re doing and flip onto something else. I guess we’re doing that ‘change is as good as a rest’ thing. Anyway, the trouble is that that ‘something else’ quickly becomes addictive and before we know it we’re flipping onto our distractions every 10 minutes or so. No wonder *sigh* it takes us forever to get anything useful done!

My Dad’s distraction was making tea. He’d be writing reports and making a cuppa every 20 minutes! When I worked in an office mine was chatting. After about 30 minutes I’d be desperate to find someone to chat to. Oh hello email, facebook and phone, maybe I’ve not changed that much.

If you also get distracted then have a go at this:

First of all work out what your distraction is (yes, I know that sounds obvious by my Dad didn’t realise he had a tea-habit until someone told him*). You can do this really easily by just keeping a piece of paper handy and noting down each time that you have a break in concentration and what you do in it! You probably only need to keep this record for about four hours, by that time you’ll have all the information you’ll need!

Once you know what your distraction is allow yourself to do it on the hour, every hour for five minutes max.

At first you’ll find yourself doing your distracting habit without realising. That’s ok. Stop as soon as you notice and make yourself to wait until the big hand is on the 12.

After a couple of days you’ll notice that you stop wanting to do your distraction so often and that on-the-hour is comfortable enough. You’ll also notice that you don’t need a very long distraction. Five minutes will feel like eternity. You might only need 30 seconds.

After a week or so even the hourly distraction will feel too often. When this happens, stretch it out a bit. Don’t give it up altogether though as I found that if I didn’t have a scheduled distraction I quickly crept back to my old habits. And another tip: don’t go longer than 90 minutes without some sort of distraction. The human brain is programmed to focus for time periods of about 90 minutes. Much more than that and it’s too tough.

And that’s it. Two tips that worked overnight for me. Fancy giving them a go?!

Do you get distracted? What’s your top distraction? Got any tips you’d like to share?

* Turns out he just made the tea, he didn’t drink it. Otherwise he might have noticed a few extra trips to the bathroom!

 

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