How To Be Productive Without Losing Your Mind
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably working on a sales plan for your startup, a content strategy for a certain client, while also writing this article and a retrospective journal entry. You’ve, also, probably got a deadline for each one of them, after which your calendar says that it is time to ‘relax’.
The truth of our lives is that we are all multitaskers. We do one too many projects and we, obviously, want to ace everything and try to sleep in early and go for that Yoga class and basically never stop. While that’s great, the truth is also the fact that you’re headed into a pit of chaos.
Chaos, if contained, if just used as a background noise, a healthy disruptor, can be used to achieve a certain rhythm, if you will, that will help you break away from the routine and channel your creativity.
So if you’re a workaholic, but you’re sleeping in late and you can’t (or don’t) really stick to a schedule, panic not.
TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS
That means, all notifications- mobile, push, weather, location triggers etc. And while social media is important for your business, use it only for a limited time unless you don’t mind getting lost in a sea of baby videos and vines. Nothing enhances productivity than being all there for the task at hand. Though, I do usually prefer a soft background music playing in a low volume while working. It creates a sort of healthy disruption and forces me to increase my concentration, while also acting as an insulation from other external noises.
2. TAKE OUT THE TIME TO BE CREATIVE
In the long run, nothing will burn you out faster than a work routine set in stone. Keeping some flexible time to do your favourite activity such as writing poetry, reading, playing the guitar or just doodling, will have positive reinforcement towards your work.
I usually use this time to read glossies, sketch and ideate future collections. This, in turn, actually helps with future work. Such luxuries come with creative businesses, especially.
3. USE YOUR LEAST PRODUCTIVE TIME TO DO ROUTINE DRILLS
Replying to emails, posting on social media, follow-up phone calls, scheduling deliveries and pick-ups to and from my customers are a part of my daily routine. (At this point, I outsource very little work.)
I usually use time post-lunch to make these calls and send out emails, unless there are time restrictions on these (client/customer comes first). Scheduling your posts for a couple of days in advance, on an average, gives you more time per day.
4. CHANNEL YOUR STRESS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
This one is easier said than done, but it is possible. I have a silly habit of completing routine tasks before time (due to severe anticipative anxiety) and hence I enjoy the fruits of a relatively flexible work schedule on most days. I, also, never over-promise on my deliverables, even to myself. Just the fact that I don’t HAVE TO deliver something ASAP, reduces my stress drastically, allowing me to complete the job more efficiently and creatively.
And of course, there is the physical aspect to it as well; running those miles, hitting the gym, covering those laps, surya namaskars, or whatever floats your boat!
5. TALK TO PEOPLE
As tempting as it may be, don’t ‘Netflix and chill’ through your lunch time. And don’t eat at your work desk. Eat lunch with people you like in the office or at your co-working space. A frivolous small-talk might really not be ideal, but just putting your ideas out there to new people will add to your perspective.
6. DON’T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT SLEEPING-IN LATE
Productivity has a direct correlation to the amount of rest you give to your body & brain. While long days are bound to happen if you’re multi-tasking, it is important to recover. For some it may mean hopping into bed at 9 PM, while for others it’s sleeping in till noon. In either case, if your body demands it (and this is not to be confused with languidness), then please listen to it.
7. NO ‘CARPE DIEM’ IS NOT SO BAD
Seizing the day might seem to be end-all and be-all of being productive, but it’s totally human to err. If you think you’ve ruined your day, missed a deadline (probably by over-doing point no. 6 ;)), worry not. Be smart and resilient enough to pick up the remnant pieces of the day and begin again. That might mean readjusting your schedule and being more efficient through certain tasks.
8. ROUTINES, SYSTEMS & SPONTANEITY
This point is picked up from Mark McGuiness’s article for The 99 Percent. He outlined an approach to creative productivity based on Routines, Systems and Spontaneity:
Routines — Organising your day around your circadian rhythms of arousal and rest, so that you spend your peak performance time on challenging creative work.
Systems — Using robust productivity systems to capture and process all of your commitments.
Spontaneity — Leaving the door open for insight and inspiration to strike, and being willing to follow your flights of fancy wherever they take you.
I’ve only come to realise that productivity is a balance of mental and physical and a healthy chaos goes a long way.