If you are not a born procrastinator, then I salute you. Our world is made up of three type of people: one- the procrastinators, two- the sloggers, and three- the achievers. The procrastinators just don’t care about the deadline. They will keep putting the work off for later till they realize that they have run out of time, then it’s all panic and chaos.
The sloggers, however, are very determined to finish their work on time, yet no matter how much they try, they aren’t able to achieve their standards of perfection.
Enter the achievers, who create a buzz everywhere they go. They seem to be able to achieve anything they want. Bosses are always impressed with them, they are all the teachers’ pets. These people seem to get everything done on time without any compromise on quality, no matter how much the workload. They even get extra things done in the same amount of time while we are struggling with our assigned work. But… how?
We are all humans and everyone reading this article has a similar brain structure. IQs may be different, but brains can be trained. If you do the right things and train your brain in the right way, you too can be one of the achievers. So here are a few tips right from the mouths of “achievers” like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates on how to maximize work quality and productivity:
1. Get started
Just, start. Don’t keep putting it away for later because there IS no later. Many people have trouble starting to work. In such situations, pressure is the key. Put pressure on yourself with something you really want. Here is an example.
Suppose you have a power-point presentation to make and you only have 3 days for the task. Like any procrastinator, you will want to put it off for later. But there is a new movie that you really want to watch. Make a plan to watch it on the 3rd day. This means you will now have only 2 days for the job. You will feel pressurized and start early because you don’t have time.
Another way is to give just 5 minutes to your task. Tell yourself, “I’ll just do it for 5 minutes and then watch TV”. Once you start, you won’t want to stop. You will forget about the 5 minute time allotment and end up finishing more than you intended to.
2. Prioritize your tasks
The best way to be productive is to assign a priority to all the tasks for the day. Make a to-do list and write everything that you have to do on that day. Write all the tasks like getting groceries, completing your assignment, going for a movie, etc. in this list. Now, prioritize them by need (not want). Assign the highest priority to the most dreaded and the most important task. In my above list, it will be completing your assignment.
Prioritize the list and re-write it in descending order of priorities. Now, stick to it. Check each task off the list one by one from top to bottom. This will help you get things done and give you mental peace. This improves work quality because you give the most amount of time and concentration to the highest priority tasks.
3. Use the pyramid rule
The top entrepreneurs of the world like Elon Musk and Bill Gates swear by this rule. It is what get things done fast, and you also don’t have to compromise on “me” time. These businessmen set their schedules in such a way that Monday is their busiest day, followed by Tuesday, then Wednesday and so on. This makes the weekends very free for them to do anything they want.
You can follow the same principle. Schedule your tasks in a way that you get the bulk of your work done at the start, and later you are left with tiny insignificant tasks to do. This will give you a feeling of relief that you did stuff, and also boost your productivity exponentially. You can also accommodate more tasks in your extra time this way. Win-win!
4. Remove all distractions
You can use your Instagram and play Pub-G whenever you want, but not when you are doing your work. When you are doing something important, say studying or working, put all distractions away. Switch your phone and computer off. If you are expecting an important call, switch the internet off and put it somewhere far from your reach. If you are working on your computer, work offline.
Also, don’t ever bring your work in your bedroom. Do your work outside the house, in your office or in a library. If you can’t go out, then go to the room furthest from the TV, the fridge and your bed. This will greatly improve your productivity and also your work quality.
5. Be accountable
Being accountable is a great way to boost your productivity. Tell someone about your goals and your work, and ask them to keep checking in with you. Even if those people aren’t concerned with what you have to do, just their “check-ins” will keep you on your toes.
If you are not telling someone else, be accountable to yourself. Make a daily progress journal and write your progress in it every 7-8 hours. You will find yourself doing more work just because you want to write good things in your journal.
6. Multitask the smart way
People often say that multitasking hinders with the quality of your work and decreases productivity. That is not true though if you know how to multitask the smart way. Smart multitasking is doing multiple jobs in a way that they do not interfere with each other.
To achieve this, you need to pair up two tasks that can be done together. Say you have to grab the groceries, cook, watch a documentary assigned at school and pick your brother up from work. So multitasking would mean that you pick up the groceries on your way to pick your brother and cook while watching the documentary.
Don’t pair up two hefty or unrelated tasks together. You cannot possibly finish your project while cleaning your backyard, can you? (This situation is a big exaggeration but you get the picture).
7. Pre-plan meals, and eat them
Meal prep is not just for the health conscious. Pre-planning meals is a great way to manage time and save energy. Plan your meals for the day in advance (a few hours prior or the day before) and stick to it. Avoid making spontaneous plans when going out, as it may interfere with any other scheduled work.
It is not just important to plan what you are eating. You also actually need to eat. Skipping meals may give you extra time, but you will lose productivity. If you are hungry, you will only think about food and not the task on hand. So take some time out to eat (schedule it) and eat a proper, energizing meal.
8. Take breaks
The trouble with sloggers is that they forget that they are humans. So even if they do work with good intentions, their productivity and quality of work are low. You need to breathe and remember that you are not a robot. A human cannot go on for hours working without losing concentration or energy.
Research says that humans can only concentrate for a maximum of 45 minutes. So after every 45 minutes, take a short break. The break need not be long, 10-15 minutes will suffice. Go for a walk, grab a snack, check your abandoned Instagram or talk to a friend. This will prevent you from getting saturated and improve the quality of your work.
9. Sleep twice
Working makes people sleepy. Frequent naps waste time. To overcome both these situations, break your daily sleep time into two parts. Take a 1-2 hour nap sometime during the day, and then sleep at night for 6-7 hours. This will ensure sufficient sleep for your body, save time and keep drowsiness at bay.
You should also plan your sleep in your schedule. Keep aside a fixed time for sleeping, and sleep at that time every day. Train your brain and biological clock to follow that sleep schedule, and you will see that you won’t feel sleepy at all during the rest of the day.
10. Use your phone
Your phone is not just a distraction, but also a tool to increase your productivity. All you have to do is to use it the right way. There are many apps on Google Play store and iTunes store that can help you be more productive. Make use of those apps judiciously.
There are apps like Offtime and BreakFree which block other apps temporarily so that you cannot access them while working. You can also install apps like Trello and Evernote to organize your tasks and schedule them better. If you want to save your phone’s memory, then just switch the data and Wi-fi off, and use the calendar and your alarm clock for reminders.
Exercise doesn’t just benefit you physically, but also mentally. It improves concentration, focus and boosts your energy levels. There are proven studies on the effects of exercise on your productivity and work quality.
You don’t have to be an athlete to be productive. Go for a walk or a jog amidst nature and don’t just keep sitting at your desk. If you have the time to, join a class. Yoga and meditation are the best for improving your concentration. Even dancing can boost your energy levels and rejuvenate you. Take up any form of exercise according to your need and your liking, but do it.
Brains are like circus lions, they can both be easily trained. The people with the lowest IQs in the world can become successful if they use the right training technique. So be smart, use these tips, and become an achiever.