Get into your “Productive State”

Most people have too much to handle and not enough time to get it all done or to be able to fulfil their commitments. People add to their stress levels by taking on more than they can handle. Various options and opportunities bring with them the pressures of decision making. These pressures make people frustrated about how to improve their situation. By learning productivity you can organise and prioritise better and you can get your time back so you can focus on making progress and helps you improve your situation.

Planning and scheduling your tasks helps you gain more focus. In the process, you can create a positive work atmosphere and lifestyle practices that foster clarity, control, creativity and relaxation.

Better organisational techniques like planning and preparing can enhance your productivity levels. Thinking in more effective ways to handle different work situations can make things happen sooner, better and more successfully.

There is no single technique or tool to perfect organisation and productivity. However, there are certain simple processes that we can all learn to use that will improve our ability to deal more proactively and constructively. These tools can help you focus your energies strategically to create better thinking habits and working environment which otherwise keeps most people from burning out due to stress.

It is possible for you to have an overwhelming number of things to do and still function productively and be fully present in the moment.

Here are some simple practices which can motivate you to become more productive.

Figuring out ‘why’

Why do you want to be more productive? Why are you putting up with a situation in your workplace? Do you want to be better at your job or do you want to get more things done and do more with your time?

Until you have the answer to your ‘why’, there is no possible way to come up with appropriate actions.

By having an answer to your why has following benefits:

• You can define success.

• You can make hard choices and take decisions.

• You can gather possible resources.

• You can be motivated and can have better focus.

Many people forget why they are doing something and what exactly they are trying to achieve – and a simple question like, “ Why am I doing that?” Can get you back on track. Finding the answer to your ‘why’ opens up wider possibilities and expands your thinking.

Figure out your purpose

All of us want to be better at what we are doing. So the main goal should be to find your purpose. To know and to be clear about the purpose can enhance your focus. Because it is easy to get caught up and let your real and primary intentions slip. Your purpose becomes a reference point for your time and energy spent.

Once you have the purpose defined, you can align your resources and can make your decision-making easier. Often the only way to make hard choices is to come back to the purpose of what you are doing. Just taking two minutes and writing your primary reason for doing something makes things clearer and clarifies your focus.

Find your time leaks

Doing things that bring you progress, getting better at your work, investing in compound time to develop your skills, and picking up healthy habits make you productive. Find out where your time is leaking in the process. Think of your top priorities and determine those activities that help you achieve or take you closer to your goals. That is your meaningful work. The rest are meaningless activities that steal your time.

Focus on what matters to optimise your efforts and where to allocate your time more efficiently. Being aware of all the activities that bring you closer to your goal and being aware of the ones that stall your progress help you get your time back.

Create and stick to your to-do list

Organise your daily tasks in order to get things done. Don’t get carried away by writing too long to-do lists. Being busy is not the same as being productive. Overloading your lists is not an effective to-do list format. If you always start with the easiest or most convenient ideas, you will end up pushing the best ones down the list.

Make sure that your to-do list has a purpose and other meaningful activities. Define your tasks related to your goals and order them by importance. If you do not manage to finish them all, move unfinished tasks to your list for the next day. Rinse and repeat. If you carry some tasks on for too many days in a row without working on them, get rid of those tasks completely.

Declutter & Prioritise

Decluttering your routine lets you devote your time to meaningful work. Write down your distractions and find multiple solutions to reduce them. For each distraction, figure out as many solutions until you find the one that works.

Prioritise your tasks according to your goals and choose those that most benefit your purpose.

It will be difficult to cut down your priorities when you have more on your plate to do than you can comfortably handle. Prioritise on the basis of your long term and short term goals, accountabilities, values, areas of focus and current projects. Combine the things you want to do with things you should do.

Get your routine done

It is very easy to start a task you want to do. But what about those tasks you have absolutely no motivation to do? The ones you procrastinate far too long over and never get around to doing? Putting off important tasks can rob your hours of achievement and can become a chronic cycle.

Slacking off and doing unimportant tasks, putting off other tasks makes you habituated to the same process. Then, the loop continues to repeat. You are avoiding the task either because you are not organised or because you are prioritising low value work. To avoid procrastination, identify what you are putting off and do those tasks right away. If getting started is the hardest part, set a designated time slot to do the task.

Stay consistent

The majority of us fail at building life-changing habits because we start strong and give up easily. You need to put effort into accomplishing your goal. Even he tiniest of efforts, when consistently done, brings good results.

Figure out which skill to work upon in order to reach your goal and the task you need to do everyday. Once you have zeroed in on the skill and activity, mark the days you will be working on it and focus on growing your progress on the same. Do not break the chain of progress so that you become consistent with your talent/ skill.

Use your gap time productively

Gap times occur between meaningful activities. Optimise your gap time so you can further develop the skill you need to make you productive. Gap times are small breaks in your schedule or at work, or when you are on long breaks from your work.

Be as strategic about your breaks as you are about your day in general. To use your gap times productively, think about small projects you can accomplish like learning something new, planning your week/day, cleaning up or even working on your other ideas.

Finally, Stay focused.

Think about the last time you felt highly productive. You probably had a sense of being in control without too much stress. You were probably highly focused on what you were doing and you felt you were making progress.

Next time around if you get far out of that state—and start to feel out of control, stressed out , unfocused and bored—get yourself back into your “productive state.” Hopefully the above methods can inspire you to become more productive and work towards attaining your goals.

Strengthen your “creative muscle”

“The world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them.” Albert Einstein.

Our brain is a power house of creative energy. From this springs new ideas. Unleashing our creative power needs a different kind of thinking. Creative thinking is simply finding new, improved ways to do anything and it leads to increased well-being.

“ The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”- John Maynard Keynes.

Curiosity can lead to new ideas and creative thinking ability grows when your original perspective is challenged. A closed mind cannot lead to much creative thinking as compared to an open mind. By stepping outside old, rigid norms and narrow confines of stagnant thoughts, you can explore bold new ideas to reach your goals and success.

Creativity is an important skill to be learned and practiced and harnessing it strengthens your authentic self. Here are some ways to strengthen your creative thinking ability.

Accept your flaws.

“ To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” – Joseph C. Pearce.

Mistakes are a pathway to innovation and growth. Trying to be right always makes you forego thinking outside the box for the fear of going wrong. Develop an ability to accept the flaws and realise their potential to generate new ideas. It is okay if you go wrong when you are trying something new. Learn and go on to get it right next time.

Develop a strong sense of belief.

Many of us stop thinking creatively to achieve our goals simply because we concentrate on why we can’t. Instead concentrate on why we can.

“ Belief releases creative powers. Disbelief puts the brakes on.”

When you believe, something can be done, your mind thinks creatively and finds ways to do it. Believe and you will start to think constructively. Avoid the word impossible from your thinking.

Remove the cobwebs of self doubt and prejudice.

Cultivate a habit of positive emotions.

We have a habit of viewing the events through our lens and segregate them as positive and negative. Make a habit to categorise more events positive and experience positive emotions such as joy and appreciation. This opens your mind and changes your outlook on the situations. Your thinking gets flexible, innovative, and increases your creative output. This may not lead to fame or fortune all the time, but can strengthen your creative thinking by experiencing positive emotions.

Strengthen your creativity by asking and listening.

Encourage others to talk and listen to what others say and evaluate. In personal conversations or work meetings, exchange and discuss new ideas. This way, your mind soaks up raw material which you can use to produce creative thought. Write down your ideas and review them. Test your own views in the form of questions. Let others help you better your ideas by being open to their suggestions. Associate with people who can help you think new ideas and make your ideas grow.

Keep a positive focus.

When we learn to enjoy using our creative energy, it generates its own internal force to keep our attention focused. When you immerse yourself in creative activities and follow your passion, your mind opens up to new possibilities. With the positive focus the authentic self gets strengthened and finds ways of bringing as much creativity as possible.

Look for good problems.

One of the most common excuse people give for not being creative is that they lack ideas. The inspiration isn’t coming. Often people focus on something new and original. But this may not be fruitful every time. Observe and look for problem areas. Every problem we face needs a creative solution. Thinking of solutions for the problems will improve your creativity muscle.

Avoid traditional thinking.

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”- Edward de Bono.

Traditional thinking freezes your mind, blocks your progress and prevents you from developing creative power. It is important the way you think. Change your outlook and adopt a new way of thinking and way of doing things. Ask yourself if there is some other way of seeing a situation. If you keep trying to find new ways to get around a problem, a new idea is sure to open up for you.

Be progressive in your thinking.

Progressive thinking is asking yourself “what can I do to achieve more?”, “ how can I better myself.” Search for ways to increase your efficiency to do more. Set high standards for yourself and others. When you do progressive thinking, your creative power is switched on and destroys regressive thoughts like can’t be done, won’t work, and so on.

Practice mindfulness.

“Mindfulness not only improves your physical and mental health, but also increases creativity. Negative self-talk can be a barrier to creative mindfulness. By observing our thoughts in an open non- judgmental way, we distance ourselves from negative self-talk. This allows the process of being creative.”

Inspire yourself to tap into creativity.

Have the right amount of passion and determination to create new and different ideas. Inspiration makes dormant forces and talents to come alive and you discover yourself to be a creative person by far than you have ever imagined yourself to be. Inspiring others also lets you get engaged in the creative moment.