(BeWellBuzz) Awareness is the key to improving productivity. The term ‘productivity’ in this context is not just work-related. It refers to every activity you enjoy doing and is beneficial to you in one way or another. Unproductivity, which is the other end of the same spectrum, refers to activities that you do not intend to do in the first place, and those you invariably regret doing afterwards.
With some conscious effort, you can curb the unproductive moments in a day and proportionally increase the productive moments. In that light, three distinct types of awareness can help significantly. They are:
Most of us go through a major portion of our ‘normal’ days on auto-pilot. For instance, while driving to your office or on a route that you’ve taken innumerable times before, you usually don’t pay attention to the route. Instead, you are lost in thought while driving. This same principle of doing things on auto-pilot applies to many other activities that we do daily.
The problem with working on auto-pilot is that it does not provide any opportunity to boost productivity. This is because you are hardly paying any attention to the task at hand. The end result is that you feel you didn’t do anything productive at the end of the day. However, it is too late to do anything about it by then.
Noting your daily activities regularly gives you valuable insight on how you spend your day. This, in turn, allows you to reverse the old habit of wasting time unintentionally. Reducing unproductive moments gives you the time, energy, and freedom to doing things you love, such as taking a walk in the park with your companion or playing video games with your children.
You need to be aware not only of what you are doing, but also why you are doing something. Are the things you do really important? Does the things you do take you a step closer toward your bigger goal? Are you spending more time performing important activities? These are the few questions to which you must find answers if you want to become more productive.
Some may think that rigorous, extensive, in-depth introspection is required for unearthing answers to the above seemingly difficult questions. This is actually not true. While introspection is indeed crucial if you are to find the right answers, it is hardly of the demanding kind. All you need to do is keep a record of what you are doing (covered in time awareness) and why you are doing what you are doing. You don’t have to write an elaborate explanation on why you are doing something. One or two sentences stating the reason for doing a particular task is more than enough.
When writing the reasons, you may find yourself analyzing them as you jot them down. Try to avoid doing this. Initially, you should only be concerned with developing a habit of writing the reasons. After a couple of weeks of writing, take some time out from your busy schedule and analyze the reasons you listed.
When analyzing, do not hold back. Instead, be truthful and brutal. Ask yourself if the listed reasons make any sense. Are they in sync with your bigger goal? Do the listed reasons cover most things, if not all, that you think can help you improve your life? Are your reasons valid or just a cover-up for doing things under societal or peer pressure?
All of us invariably do innumerable activities in a day, but what is the quantitative benefit of these activities? Or, simply put, what is that you are achieving?
You need time to achieve most things, but if you are perpetually in transit, your goal is either unreasonable, or, more likely, your approach is flawed. For instance, a normal healthy person should take anywhere between 12-15 months to be ready for a 21 km race. If you start training right now, you should be able to run 21 km or close to 21 km by the end of the year. This figure is the end result.
Cultivate a habit of journaling your achievements weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. In case you have a big project, it is essential that you break it into smaller goals. Taking the above example, your first goal could be running 5 km without having to take a break. The next goal could be running 8 km, and so on.
While you need to, and must, enjoy the process, you must also keep an eye on the big picture. Stay aware of your goal and your current positioning vis-à-vis the smaller milestones you need to achieve to fulfill your big goal. Speaking of the above example, you can break your big goal of running 21 km in a year’s time to smaller goals of running 5 km within 2 months, 10 km within 5 months, 15 km within 8 months, and 21 km by the end of 12 months. Defining a timeline for your goals, breaking your goal into smaller milestones, focusing on details, and regularly analyzing your results is the key to achieving success.