Productivity is more than achievement; it’s intention, learning, and habits all rolled in together. Here are some tips to help you get more out of life
Did you know that mindfulness has a lot to do with productivity?
I didn’t get the connection at first. I started doing yoga when I was in between jobs, so I had a lot of free time on my hands. When I started working and I had to fit the practice within my daily obligations, I realized how it could change your life from a different perspective: productivity.
I noticed that I was less productive on days when I skipped practice. I have an hour “less” on days when I practice, but I’m more focused and determined to finish on time.
That’s what productivity is all about. When you find the right balance between your personal and professional life, you feel at peace. You know you have tasks to complete, but you’re not stressed out about them.
Through some research and from my personal experience, I collected 7 productivity tips that can lead to a life change.
1. Establish a Healthy Relationship with Finances
The productivity concept is not about making more money. You could be making a lot of cash, but are you really productive if you don’t do anything outside of work?
When yoga teachers and practitioners talk about the yamas, aparigraha doesn’t get much attention. This is the principle of non-possessiveness. The idea is to be happy with what you’ve got. You can always work for more, but possessions should not be the main goal of your life. It’s fine to own things, but not to let things own you.
Finances are an important part of our life and we should have a healthy relationship with them. When we get into the whirlpool of making and wanting more money, it becomes obsessive — it consumes our thoughts. I’ve been there. You’ll work more and you’ll earn more. But that’s not productivity. Such a mindset makes you lose control of all other interests you have.
Budgeting is one of the best ways to stay productive. If you have a flexible income that increases as you do more work, think:
How much money do I need to cover all my expenses, live comfortably, and still save some?
That’s your goal. Plan how much work you need to do on a daily basis to achieve that goal. You can work more, but don’t get greedy.
2. Find the Perfect Productivity App
If you don’t believe that an app can change your life, wait until you try the perfect one.
When you have your plan in written form, it forces you to make a commitment. It’s not something you may have promised to yourself and then pushed at the back of your mind when procrastination sets in. It’s there; reminding you that if you don’t complete these tasks, you’ll have to deal with more work tomorrow.
The app will push notifications that remind you about your goals. Eventually, you’ll stop making excuses.
My personal favorites are Pagico (for managing tasks and projects), Time Out (an app that reminds you to take short breaks), and InstaCal (an app that manages your calendars). All these apps are available through Setapp, a service where you pay a low monthly fee for premium Mac apps. You can actually save money because this app curates the best tools for you.
3. Do Your Exercise or Yoga Practice in the Morning
I tried practicing yoga after work. It didn’t work. I was too tired. I would work overtime too often, so I couldn’t do the practice on schedule. It’s important for me to do yoga at the same time every day, since that’s how it becomes a routine that I don’t want to avoid. I did some research and as it turns out, most people agree. People are more likely to adhere to a morning exercise routine once they establish it. In addition, exercising in the morning leads to better productivity.
Take my honest advice: start waking up earlier. It will be hard at first, but you’ll have much more time in the day for all tasks you plan.
Meditation is easier to do in the morning, too. Your mind is calm then. It isn’t burdened by all buzzing thoughts and experiences you go through in a day. It’s the perfect time to go inward and set your intentions for the day. Meditation before sleep can be a helpful way to wind down your mind and prepare yourself for rest, however your mind may be stuck to things that happened during your day. It can be hard to calm it down. It’s way easier to do it in the morning.
I recommend meditating right after exercise. Do your preferred meditation with a simple self-affirmation at the end: “Today will be a good day. I will be focused, calm, and productive.”
When you want to change your life for the better, start with a positive attitude.
4. Make Small Steps Towards Big Destinations
A major business or personal project is an overwhelming challenge. And this large scale challenge can lead us to procrastinate. “I’ll just deal with minor tasks today and start with this next week.” Then you procrastinate some more next week, and stress builds as the deadline for the project gets close.
Here’s one of the most important productivity tips: break down the work in small steps!
Divide the biggest projects into monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Then, infuse those daily goals into your calendar and start accomplishing them. This mindset will change your life.
I got my MA degree thanks to this mindset. It seemed like an impossible goal, since I also had a job that I loved. But then I just applied and started taking things slow. I studied for one course at a time, one concept at a time, one chapter at a time.
5. Never Stop Learning
You work, you exercise, and you spend time with your family. Is that all a productive life is about? No. Beyond achieving, a truly fulfilling life is also one of continued learning.
As the saying goes… be forever a student.
The ‘microlearning’ concept is interesting. The trend in today’s online courses is to provide brief lectures that take up to 20 minutes. The assignments are short and easy to complete. You don’t have to spend an entire day listening to a lecture and completing assignments. You’ll be learning in small bites as you work toward your goal.
If you don’t have time for classic online courses, you can start listening to audiobooks. There’s an awesome library of literature and educational texts available, with great narration. You can listen to audiobooks while you drive, while you cook, and while you do anything else.
A mind that seeks growth is a mind that will never be bored.
6. Don’t Waste the Present Moment
What are you doing right now? You’re reading this article, which gives you effective tips for productivity. That’s good, but will you put any of these tips into practice? If you don’t, then you’re wasting valuable time, or more precisely, the present moment.
When you have free time on your hands, ask yourself: “What am I doing right now?” Sometimes you’ll realize you’re doing something actually meaningless to you…
Like watching a TV show that you started but don’t isn’t even fun anymore. Or perhaps you’ll realize you’re wasting time putting too much makeup on, when you could be enjoying a nice cup of tea outside before going to work. Or maybe you’re scrolling through social media feeds that are not fulfilling to you.
When you come to such a realization, use that moment to pivot and do something useful. You can go outside and practice breathing, you can call a friend, or take a nap that will give you energy for the remaining tasks of the day. This is not to say that idle time, day dreaming and rest don’t have a place — just be mindful of what you’re doing now…
Relaxing is different than distracting. A key to productivity is being intentional about how you choose to spend your time.
7. Save Money
No matter how much you’re making, do your best to save a certain amount on a monthly basis. Perhaps that means cooking your own food rather than frequenting restaurants. Or building a ‘capsule’ wardrobe that requires little investment in clothes and accessories. Or, on the more extreme end, you can even consider living with a friend, parent or sibling for a while.
When you save enough money, you can do something to truly change your life. You can have the vacation of your dreams, buy your own place, or do anything else that you consider to be a productive investment.
I realized that setting priorities was the best way to save money. When I wanted to buy something, I asked myself a question: “Do I really need this? I have the money. But is this the most important thing I should spend it on?” This simple manner of reasoning lets me make better decisions.
I still try not to be attached to my savings. If I need to buy something, I don’t feel sorry about spending money on it. But if I don’t, I save my money for a more productive purchase, i.e., something that will make a significant impact upon my life. This was one of the productivity strategies that helped me pay for my MA degree.
Do You Have a Productivity Mindset?
So, you tried all of the productivity hacks at work and you still can’t get things done on time? There are two possibilities here:
- It’s your mindset — You’re a chronic procrastinator. You remember the times when you were able to exercise, do your work, and have spare time for relaxation in the evening. Now, you’re doing the same volume of work, but you don’t have time for anything else. If this is your case, you’ll benefit from the tips above.
- You’re taking on more work than you can accomplish — If there is no realistic chance to accomplish everything on your list, think of ways to outsource. You can hire writers to help with your reports. You can delegate tasks to team members. You can talk to your boss and explain that your workload is too much for a single employee. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself if you want to see a positive life change. Note: the same applies to your personal life.
Be honest: at least a few of these productivity tips made you feel like you weren’t doing enough, right? It’s okay. We always have space for improvement, and that’s a good thing. Why don’t we start making improvements today?
You may also enjoy Morning Yoga & Meditation for Energy, Awareness and Intention with Carter Miles