With so many distractions in the modern world, it sometimes seems hard to concentrate on one thing. Amidst all of the distractions, it can seem almost impossible to be productive. These five tips will help you eliminate distractions and be more productive than you thought possible.
- Apply the 80/20 rule.
This is one of the most powerful tips to become more productive. The idea behind the 80/20 rule is 20% of all the work we do leads to 80% of the results. In other words, if we focus on a few very important things, we will get a majority of the work finished. The majority of us focus on the 80% of work that accomplishes 20% of our end goal. By simply analyzing which work provided the highest return and focusing on it, we can achieve vastly superior results in the same amount of time. That is why the 80/20 rule is so amazing; it does not require any more effort, time or concentration to see dramatically better results. Simply by shifting our focus, we are accomplishing significantly more.
- Use the Pomodoro technique.
The Pomodoro technique is a method developed in the 80s by Francesco Cirillo to help increase productivity. It is widely considered one of the best techniques to increase productivity and has dramatically help me increase how productive I have been. The technique is broken up into two phases: the working phase and the resting phase. To begin, set an alarm for 25-30 minutes, then begin the working phase. During the working phase, work with absolutely no distractions (meaning no cell phones, Facebook, etc.). You set an alarm beforehand so that you are not even distracted by checking the clock. The point of the working phase is to be in complete concentration. After the 25-30 minute concentration phase, there is a 5-10 minute break phase where you can do whatever you want. It is a very effective technique because it allows for breaks but also clearly defines when you should be focusing on work. Additionally, the method is flexible, the time frames for each phase are not fixed and you can change them up based on your own experience and what works best. However, it is suggested to never have a break longer than 15 minutes and never have a working session less than 20 minutes. If you are interested in learning more about the Pomodoro technique, there is a great book by Staffan Noteberg that you can find here.
- Create and write down deadlines.
In order to be productive, you have to set a time you want your work to be accomplished by. If we just hope to eventually get something done, we will never get it done. By writing out exactly when we want to accomplish a certain goal, we are forcing ourselves to be productive enough to complete the goal by that time. Think about if your boss never gave you a deadline to finish something; you would probably put it off forever. Set a deadline and write it down so you can see it every day; this will encourage you do the work necessary to finish it by the deadline.
- Set short deadlines.
Setting short deadlines really helps us focus on what is important and what needs to get done. When we are not under any time constraints, it is easy to get distracted and lose concentration. When you are under pressure to get something done, you are forced to concentrate. What’s more, you are forced to figure out what is the most important work and work on it first. In essence, when you are on a time crunch, you are forced to focus on the 20% of work that accomplishes 80% of your task. Giving yourself a short deadline forces you to finish it that much quicker and also forces you to be much more productive while working on it.
- Allow yourself a break.
If you are working and getting nothing done because you are not feeling any drive, then take a break. Go for a walk, read a book for an hour, exercise, etc. If we are not feeling motivated to work, our productivity is going to be extremely low. Sometimes the only way to get that motivation back is to separate ourselves from the work for a couple hours. Taking a break refreshes us so that, when we come back from the break, we feel a new wave of energy and will be significantly more productive.