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Time and time again, I've watched myself let days slip away. I'd have things in mind to do but fail to actually get it done.
As a college student, the sense of urgency to do an assignment doesn't come until the night before the due date. Most of the time, that results in me staying up later than normal or waking up earlier than normal to finish up the work. That takes away from my rest, adds to my stress, and weighs down my days.
Looking at it this way, you realize that productivity affects more than just assignment completion.
My inability to be responsible with my time takes a toll on my physical and mental wellness. I'm sure you've seen this in your own life. Think of the difference in how you feel when things are done early and when things are done right before the deadline. Big difference, right?
There was a point in my life where I decided to change this unhealthy habit.
I'm no expert in habits or productivity but I can learn from the ones who are. That desire for information led me to best-selling author: James Clear.
Clear is the man with the master plan on the game of habits. He's conducted the scientific research which has equipped him with the knowledge to change lives. He is the author of the NY Times best seller: Atomic Habits. I haven't read the book but I read the articles on his website.
Recently, I came to his site looking for help on productivity and found exactly that. In his "Productivity Guide," there is a playbook for becoming more effective with your time. I've only read this a few days ago, meaning that I haven't truly adopted these habits yet. However, making these habits apart of my lifestyle is the next step for me as it may now be for you.
Without further ado, here are some tips from Clear, himself, that'll help me and you be more productive:
"Manage your energy, not your time."
Here, Clear changes the approach from time management to energy management. Instead of pondering the timing of it, focus on where your energy levels are at certain times of the day. You may have more energy in the morning than you do in the evening, or vice versa. Depending on where your energy levels are throughout the day, plan your tasks accordingly.
Honestly, I'm not sure of the differences in my energy levels throughout the day. That'll be something to pay more attention from this point on.
"Prepare the night before."
Preparation is monumental in all aspects of life and productivity is no different. Clear is big on taking a few minutes every night to create a "to-do list" for the next day. He says that taking ten minutes to prepare for the next day saves him three hours when the day comes.
Preparation will definitely be an emphasis for me moving forward.
I never take time to outline the next day. Rightfully so, not taking time to prepare creates the overwhelming feeling that I typically get during the day.
"Turn your phone off and leave it in another room."
Turning off your phone or placing it in a different room takes ample weight off of your shoulders. As Clears says, what this does is take away the urge to text, check Instagram, open up your Snap, and whatever else you usually do. Putting your phone elsewhere is a small action but it lowers the chances of you losing your focus by task-switching between work and distractions.
This concept hit it right on the money for me. I constantly lose focus because I took a second to check Instagram which turned into half an hour. Initially, I am locked in on my current task but it never lasts long. After some time passes, I feel a strong need to just quickly open up my phone. Once I do that, it's game over.
Taking my phone out of sight will be a game-changer for me and probably for you as well.
"Work in a cool place."
As Clear asks, do you have that "groggy and sluggish" feeling in a high temperature room? I know I do. So just by cooling the room down, you've made it easier to sustain your focus.
Personally, I've never thought about the connection between productivity and room temperature. Maybe you haven't either. It makes a lot of sense, though.
"Sit up or stand up."
I didn't think about this either but I'm definitely mindful of it now:
In a "hunched over" sitting position, you are not as able to breathe "easily and deeply". On the contrary, your brain receives more oxygen in an upright sitting position, allowing you to sustain your focus. Standing also has this affect.
"Develop a 'pre-game routine' to start your day."
Finally, Clear emphasizes the idea of having a "pre-game routine" to get you in work mode. He says that his "morning routine" begins with a "cold glass of water" but it's different for everyone.
The importance of it is to get yourself in a focused place where you are most productive.
I currently do not have a morning routine. I get up and I go straight to my phone. That basically leaves my level of productivity up to chance. No wonder I can't get shit done.