Productivity is the buzzword of the modern age. But 100 years ago, increasing productivity was a completely different problem than it is today. Back then, it was mainly about faster, more powerful machines. The more modern and efficient the machines, the more output.
With people, you can't (unfortunately) use a more powerful engine to see more results. In general, we must not think like mechanics. Instead, psychology provides valuable insights into how we can become more productive.
How can you do more in the same amount of time?
The biggest mistake is to push yourself to your limits with sheer self-discipline and just want to do more, more, more. That might go well for a few days, maybe even a few weeks. But first of all, sooner or later exhaustion will catch up with you and secondly, you will work more inefficiently after a very short time.
The fallacy lies in the fact that you might believe that you would create more and in the same quality. But when you are overworked, you notice your mistakes much less. Or you are less susceptible to the annoyed looks of your colleagues when you are once again addicted to productivity mania.
But then what is the better way to become more productive? Habits! Habits will make you perform a little slower, but consistently.
Why habits are so good for your productivity
When we think of habits, we often tend to think of bad habits, like watching TV, drinking beer, or even biting our nails. But habits are much more! In fact, habits account for up to 95% of our actions. This makes our habits even more important than our conscious decisions.
Reason 1: Habits cost little energy
The reason why our behavior is largely determined by habits is as follows: The brain is an energy-saving computer. All tasks that can be automated are automated.
The good news is that we can intervene in the program and write some processes and commands into the program flow ourselves. The important thing is that you do not try to fight against the set habits every day with pure self-discipline.
So, for example, don't try to resist the donut box in the office every day. Instead, try to rewrite the program: Whenever you see the donut box, grab an apple or some nuts instead. Or hide the donuts right away and put a bowl of healthy snacks in the same place.
Through this approach, you use the energy-saving efficiency of habits to your advantage. If you rely solely on your self-discipline, you will quickly get out of breath.
Reason 2: Small habits are more important than big resolutions.
A tree seedling grows every day. You can barely see the growth with the naked eye. Even if a sapling grows slowly, it grows steadily. And that consistency is what makes it grow into a magnificent tree.
So instead of resolving to become a tree, you can better resolve to grow a little every day. Sure, this slowness will frustrate you from time to time because you don't see growth. But it is there! You just have to trust yourself and the process.
9 habits that make you significantly more productive
But how exactly do you become more productive? With the help of productive habits. These habits will support you in your daily growth and make you more productive in the long run without you having to exhaust yourself in the short run. Because life is not a sprint, but a marathon.
#1 Develop a morning routine
A good day starts with a good morning. There is no set recipe for this. Rather, it's about what you personally need to be relaxed, motivated and receptive in the morning.
However, it's safe to say that exercising, meditating, journaling and reading make for a very good start to the day. Time spent on the cell phone or watching TV is rather counterproductive. This is because you become reactive, which means that you only react to the thoughts that other people put into your head and lose your ability to think for yourself.
However, this is only true if you let yourself be sprinkled with content. If you select specific content, such as audiobooks or podcasts like the one from The ChainlessLIFE, which stimulate you just right in the morning, that is of course totally super! In the coming days, just try out what does you good: Maybe you need stimulation in the morning to get going, maybe you need more rest.
#2 Bundle tasks
The fairy tale of multitasking tells us the story of the successful manager who does everything at the same time and therefore gets so much more done than everyone else. But that's total nonsense. In fact, we can't multitask at all.
The brain can only switch back and forth between tasks very quickly. However, every switch of attention costs energy. The fairy tale of multitasking does not end with a happy ending but with a burn-out.
To become more productive without burning out, you can bundle your tasks and complete them in one go. A good example for this are e-mails. Set aside two or three time slots during the day to answer your emails. The rest of the time, block notifications and pop-ups from your mail server so you're not disturbed by incoming messages.
#3 Say no
You probably know exactly what you would like to accomplish. You know what is important. You know which steps to success you have to take. But you have no time. Because there are always other things to do and you are constantly distracted. You lack focus.
The magic word to be able to concentrate more on your tasks is: "No! If you say no to the unimportant things in your life, you automatically say "yes" to the important things and people!
The ability to say the word "No" is the first step to freedom. - Nicolas Chamfort
#4 Consume foods that promote concentration
Even though our brain is far more complicated than any machine, there is a parallel: the better the fuel, the better the performance. You wouldn't run your car on sunflower oil, would you?
Therefore, make sure that your diet provides your brain with good nutrients.
#5 Observe breaks
Breaks are often cancelled in order to supposedly get more done. But while the equation more time = more performance works for machines, the opposite is true for people.
If you don't take breaks, you'll be slower and make more mistakes, which you'll have to iron out afterwards. In addition, your creativity and your ability to think also suffer from the non-stop work.
Ideally, you should take breaks before you even notice signs of exhaustion. Even if it feels totally unnecessary: Take breaks in between. If at the end of the day you think that you didn't need the breaks because you're not exhausted at all, then you've done your breaks just right!
#6 Connect with others
Networking with other people has two advantages: First, it's a way to recharge your batteries. Take a coffee break with your colleagues and relax with a bit of everyday gossip. Second, other people can help you with your tasks.
Maybe you're just biting your teeth on a task? Talk to your colleagues about your problem. Maybe they can give you new solutions or have even successfully solved the problem themselves. Become more productive by relying on swarm intelligence instead of limiting yourself to your own head.
Habits have the disadvantage that sometimes they don't go the smartest way. When we have done something a thousand times, it is hard for us to see another way. As a result, we sometimes miss out on solutions that are much more efficient.
That's why it's good to take a step back in between and ask yourself "How would I approach this problem if I had absolutely no experience?" This is also where you can reconnect with others and maybe even put an actual novice on your problem to find new approaches.
With meditation you kill two birds with one stone. First, you take a break and refuel your energy supply. Second, you gain distance from your work and maybe you'll come up with creative ideas or better solutions afterwards.
Apps like Calm offer a whole range of meditations that are perfect for a quiet moment in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With them, you can bring more inner peace and mindfulness into your life - simply at the touch of a button, when and where you want.
#9 Healthy sleep
Every productive day begins the night before. Namely, with a sufficient portion of sleep. It sounds like the most obvious tip in the world, but do you actually get good sleep and fall asleep easily?
Studies show that daddling on your smartphone increases the time it takes you to fall asleep. A blue light filter is a sensible step to avoid exposing your body to light that wakes you up, but even then your phone will still keep you from sleeping. After all, the Internet is full of exciting news, be it violent war images or envy-inducing party pictures of friends.
Give your brain enough time to come down. Turn off your cell phone and TV one hour before your desired bedtime. Read a book instead! Well, you can also put the phone in flight mode to listen to an audio book instead ;-).
Ideally, you should also sleep early enough to wake up before your alarm the next day - and get up! Because waking up naturally lets you start the day more relaxed. And your head is in the optimal condition to start a new, productive day.
Conclusion: Find your ideal work routine
One good habit is good. Many good habits are better. And it's best to develop a work routine where you internalize as many good habits as possible.
But don't rush! Start with one good habit and practice it until it becomes second nature. Only then start to tackle the next habit. Otherwise, you run the risk of not making any of the habits a habit, but sending them to the land of good intentions.
Another tip: Once you've established a good habit, it's best to follow it up with the next habit. This is called habit stacking. For example, if you've gotten into the habit of drinking a cup of tea in the afternoon instead of coffee, you can cut yourself an apple while the water is getting hot. Then you will get into the habit of combining your tea with an apple. Even small acts can make a big difference!