How My Love Affair Started with Productivity

It was 7:00 am in the morning and I woke up without the alarm. Normally I do not need the morning alarm but I anyway use it, just to be on the safer side. I opened my eyes with a sigh because it was a Saturday. More so because I had to finish a lot of personal tasks and had only this weekend in hand. Morning became afternoon and I was still on my ‘To Do’ list, trying to figure out which task should I take on priority, because everything seemed ‘Urgent’ and ‘Important’. Frustration started increasing every hour because I was so determined to finish the work as per the To Do list – which I had made on Monday itself.

I finished my lunch and lay down on my bed. Started thinking, “There has to be a better way of managing things”. Watched some videos on YouTube. Read some blogs. And in two hours I realized that it is not so difficult to impress the productivity.

So what is the exact meaning of Productivity anyway? Cambridge Dictionary defines productivity as, ‘the rate at which a person, company, or country does useful work’. Well, pretty simple and straight forward. Two important words in this definition are – ‘the rate’ and ‘useful work’. The rate denotes the measurement criteria and ‘useful work’ denotes the quality of work or the task. I would end this definition with two more words. That would be ‘effectively’ and ‘efficiently’. Yes, now it sounds complete to me. It was important for me to understand the exact meaning before I worked more on this. So after learning more on this topic over the past few months, I realized that improving productivity has same rules and tools which have been used by mankind for several years. What we have forgotten is the reason behind using these tools or perhaps we are over-using them.

Let me tell you what I learnt in the past few months and how you can approach this topic to improve your productivity.

The ‘To Do’ List – A friend who betrays you !

Probably the biggest culprit for procrastination. Well, only if you are using this list in a wrong way. Most of the times we fail to achieve the tasks in the To Do list is because they are lying in the list for a long period of time. Studies have clearly proved that the later you initiate the task, harder it becomes for you to complete it. We become less productive when we plan to do a task for a long period of time. The task starts looking less interesting to us. The more you see ‘complete plantation in the balcony’ in your list, less interesting it starts looking. Result? Procrastination! Solution? Start the task immediately! I know it sounds stupid. You will say, wouldn’t we start the the task if we had to. We don’t get the motivation to start the work. And hence, I would like to present the next step for you.

The ‘Do Something’ Principle

Author Mark Manson has stated in one of his Productivity video blogs that most of us wait for the so called motivation to come so that you can start the work. We wait in anticipation that something will motivate us which will trigger our brain to start a particular task. But actually it works the other way around. When you start the task, even a little bit, it creates motivation. And that motivation leads us to complete the task with desired satisfaction. Hence, The ‘Do Something’ principle is nothing but giving a short nudge to yourself to just initiate the task a little bit, and the rest will be taken care by your self created motivation.

The Power of Clarity

Another massive mistake we do is ‘being vague’ in our To Do list. If you have a To Do list which looks something like the following, then I’m pretty sure you are struggling a lot to complete it.

  • Exercise
  • Study
  • Buy Remaining Grocery
  • Learn new Recipe

If you are not being specific in your tasks, your brain will not trigger the required action. Vague tasks look uninteresting. They do not create motivation. If you add specific details in your tasks, your brain will get more clarity and it will initiate the action faster. The specifics can be measurable in terms of time, quantity, quality or any other parameter. In short, the above To Do list should ideally look something like this.

  • 20 Push Ups + 4 KMs run
  • Study Economics, Chapter 9 & 10
  • Buy Maggie, Tea Powder, 4 Soaps
  • Learn Butter Chicken recipe for this Sunday’s brunch

The One Hour Time Band

Somehow we have got used to measuring entire day only in ‘hourly’ time band. This measurement is wasting a lot of time of ours unknowingly. Imagine that its morning 9:00 am and you have set a reminder in your list as ‘Exercise’ at 10:00 am. You will unnecessarily waste your time until it is actually 10 o’clock. Start measuring time in ’15 minutes’ time slot and keep your reminders also in this structure. so start your exercise at 9:45 am instead of 10:00 am. Start studying at 4:15 pm and complete your plantation at 6:15 pm. It somehow also improves the accuracy of time and makes you more responsible in terms of adhering your decided timeline subconsciously.

Hope this approach helps you improve your productivity and start a fresh love affair with it in this romantic season. I’m hoping for a successful marriage with my productivity going forward. Thank you.