Six Productivity Habits That Give More Back Than They Take

– Posted in: life coaching, time management

Taking a meditation break is one way to boost your productivity

When I’m busy or procrastinating on a big project that needs to get done, my good productivity habits fall by the wayside. I check email too often, rationalizing that I need to be accessible in a crisis mode (actually staying productive would be more helpful but my stressed out self has poorer judgment!). Or I get distracted by busywork and checking off unimportant tasks instead of tackling the project I’m supposed to be doing (thereby digging myself into a deeper hole having wasted even more time!).

However, I have come up with six go-to habits that help me restore my productivity. While these productivity habits take time (and so the temptation will be to skip them), they return far more in effectiveness, energy and concentration. If I find myself having a particularly unproductive day, it’s usually because I’m not partaking in these activities. In fact, I try to build in these six productivity habits at the start of the day to get me on the right track:

Meditation

I came to meditation reluctantly but the science-based results were compelling, and once I started meditating regularly, my own positive results encouraged me to continue. I look at meditation as training my brain. I over-analyze things. I’m self-critical. I’m a worrier. Meditation forces me to quiet the internal chatter for at least a few minutes. I find that my productivity and focus improve after I rest my mind with meditation.

Journaling

My journaling practice includes writing free-form for 20 minutes. I’m sure that many days I write the same things over and over again but, like meditation, it clears my mind. Unlike meditation, however, it helps me think of new ideas or forgotten ideas that should be resurrected. Sometimes I even put a post-it note on a journal page where I want to transfer a thought onto my To Do list.

Exercise

When I mistakenly feel like I’m too busy for my one-hour Bollywood exercise class and skip it in the name of work, I always get less work done when I peter out later in the day, One hour of exercise gives me two, three or more hours of energy and productivity.

Lunch

I love food so much I almost never skip lunch. However, a lot of my otherwise very smart professional colleagues lunch at their desk or skip it altogether. First of all, you need the fuel from the food to stay alert. Furthermore, if you work in an office, lunch is the perfect networking platform – schedule lunch with different people to expand your relationships. Even if you don’t work in an office (I work at home), you can still use your lunches for networking – you can always Skype if you really don’t want to leave home!

“Water cooler” talk

Like the lunch, walking around the office and casually chatting with colleagues is good networking. But it’s also good management – to keep up with what’s happening in all areas of the office, to establish connections with people you otherwise wouldn’t see, to show that you’re accessible to others.

Regular breaks

One break in the day for lunch or even two breaks for lunch and a water run are not enough. Your energy will flag, and you might not even realize it, but your work product will show it. If I’m working on something where I have a tendency to lose track of time (e.g., blogging) I’ll set a timer for 50 minutes, so that I build in a 10-minute break each hour. Even if it’s just to blink my eyes (which we forget to do when tethered to a computer screen!) or take a few steps, the short break maintains my productivity.

When I worked a corporate job with a defined office to commute to each day, I tried to build as much of these productivity habits into my morning routine – 20 minutes each of meditation, journaling and exercise goes a long way. Now that I work from home, I still try and complete these activities in the early part of the day, but with a more flexible schedule, I can dedicate even more time to them. However, you don’t have to run your own business to have a flexible schedule. You can negotiate for flexibility at the company you’re working at now. Then you’ll have no excuse not to build in some of these productivity enhancers into your daily routine.

 

2 Comments… add one
Noah Shaw April 17, 2017, 6:14 am

Ah procrastination. The bane of my existence. I can relate to doing all the small tasks besides the super large project right next to me. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to beat this habit, and I’m glad this article was written.

I always knew that taking breaks was the key to bringing back focus into my brain, but I am usually stumped on what to do. Most procrastination is from negativity towards working toward that big goal or task, so I usually get a reward whenever I finish a chunk of it. I should bring some physical activities into my break time! Meditation sounds pretty interesting.

I wonder what’s the best way to prevent procrastination in the first place. It’s good to find ways to stop it once it happens, but there is still time wasted if it isn’t stopped before.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine April 21, 2017, 9:40 am

Thanks for writing in! I don’t know that we can stop procrastination altogether b/c sometimes it’s your brain resting and cooking up ideas. Sometimes it’s a sign that maybe you should rethink plowing blindly ahead. I don’t think hesitation, like procrastination, is necessarily a bad thing b/c it might be a hint to something else. But when you determine that, yes, your best course of action is to get on with it, try the get-on-with-it strategies from the blog.

Leave a Comment