I was always told to study hard. Studying hard was necessary to finish my university, which was a really painful process but I did study hard so I finished it. During my university time no one talked about productivity and how to be more efficient in your studies, just everyone was saying: “study hard and you will succeed”.
I want to tell you that sometimes I think that I studied too hard and that I didn’t have a “student life” with many parties, hanging around and being just an easy going student.
But I think life paid me back later on with having good jobs because I was thinking that this is the way life should be. Studying hard did pay me off and I got a job in London. But then I started to focus on building my career and again I thought that only if I work hard enough I will succeed.
Well, this is true and I am not gonna tell you that to be successful in your career, company or university you don't need to work hard, all of us know best, how much hard work we need to put in to see results.
But if you read my latest posts about working smarter than harder you know that even in you work hard you need to be more efficient and resourceful, and I want to share with you life changing productivity hacks which make your life better.
Number 1: Change your mindset
This is a really great thing and probably most of you need just a little twist in your approach. If you study, most likely you will study something that you are interested in. If you work and you like your work then your work doesn’t feel like hard work.
Changing your attitude toward things makes you feel like this is not so hard to do, not painful, this is fun and you really enjoy doing that.
Like a new project at work, treat it like fun not like a difficult task, think about all the great things you can learn and start to enjoy this process.
That way it is easier to go day by day, because you take your task like a part of something you are passionate about.
Number 2: Find your way to be effective
This is the approach of working smarter, not harder, which I talked about in prevous post. Basically this is a concept called 80/20 and it talks about getting to know your strategy to do things, have clear goals and figure out where to put effort to get results.
Because 80% of your outcome comes probably from a very selective time (20%) you spend on the task, so there is no point to spend all day doing things. It is about finding your effective way to do less but do it better.
Number 3: Go offline
While studying or working switch off all not necessary notifications which can distract you and take your attention away. This is really important when you do social media and your phone is on your desk, just one second look at your phone can turn into 15 minutes or more and this is time you should work. If you need, there are many apps blocking your social media for a certain time but the best way is just to leave the phone in the bag or in a different room and for sure turn off volume. Turn off all the notifications on your laptop and focus on work.
Simple but most people struggle with way too many distractions.
Number 4: Do to List
I always write a to-do list, I use apps like Trello or other at work. Monika loves the Notion application but what I know is that having written on the paper your points are the most accessible way and there is no temptation to use the phone again if your list is on the phone.
Besides, I spend all day watching on screen and having my to do list on screen is a NO for me.
And there are way too many things to remember, I schedule a meal menu for my cooking week, and a shopping list - we have a notepad in the kitchen and if we run out of something we write down to the shopping list. Kids also know that if something has finished they need to write it down. It is the most efficient thing to have a list of tasks for every day and per week, even though it seems old fashioned to use a paper, having a planner on the wall for all families to see about tasks and activity is the best productive hack in a busy family and work life.
Number 5: Set up clearly your goals and make them public
Someone once said that not having goals makes it difficult to succeed because how can we know if we achieved something if we didn’t clearly set goals?
So I set goals for myself and some of them I say it aloud. Like I say at work that I will finish this project by next week and I will give a presentation about it. I don’t need to do it but I want to push myself, learn more by doing things and wrap it nicely for others to learn about that too.
Setting up goals is a great motivator but even bigger is to say it to someone else, then it is fully making commitment. If I say that I will do it to Monika, then I feel more motivated and determined to do it because simply she can see my accountability. Being clear with your goals and committing to them by openly talking about them is a great way to be efficient in your productivity.
Number 6: Make routines
Routines can be boring for some but this is the most effective way to become productive at work or study. Work it out what works for you and keep it this way. Know when is your best time to focus and study, is it morning or night? What time is best to do some creative work during the day, when to keep your body moving and when to take power naps.
Having organized days from a scientific point of view is extremely important for keeping our body healthy, having meals at the same time, going to bed at the same time and having proper resting time.
When people talk about productivity they often forget that we are not robots, we need time to rest and do other things like going for a walk and don’t thinking about learning and work, watch a movie and relax without feeling guilty about it.
Routines are extremely helpful to make our life efficient, but sometimes we can fall in a rabbit hole: it was Monday and then all of the saden is Friday again. It is important to keep a track on things like to-do list, schedule time to go outside etc.
We have with Monika Wedsnedays, when we go for lunch to a local cafe. In the middle of the week we find it refreshing to do something nice and that gives us some positive kick for two more days of work.
Routines are good for our body clock but it is good to make things nice for you too, if your work was very stressful recently, treat yourself, have lunch and enjoy some time outside.
Being productive nowadays is vital because there are many things we need to do, have to do and want to do and the day is only 24h. But most important about being productive is to have fun, enjoy things you do. It is important to push yourself and work hard when you clearly know why you do that and it is healthy to have your routines and know when to relax.
Having balance, actually I should make this as another point in productivity hacks, maybe next time I will talk more about that. Remember that it is easy to set up a million things on your to-do list, have 10 apps to track your steps, exercises etc but at the end of the day it is your health, your physical and mental health that really matter, not your job.
So I hope that these productivity hacks can make your life better and easier, use your time wisely like someone said: “The key is not spending time, but investing it.”
Let me know in the comment below if you are using a paper to-do list or you treat a notebook as a vintage object :)
Do you include in your routines daily walks or having something nice during the work day like a coffee by the beach? I hope you do and I want to know what you do.
Share with me your tips for being productive and make sure to subscribe to this space or the Youtube channel for more tips, interesting stories and talks about life as an expat and digital nomad. Ciao.
Marcelo y Monika the content creaators of “Sapo de otro pozo”