Taking advantage of the fact that lately I have some more time in the afternoon I have decided to write an article somewhat different from those I usually publish here. In it you will find a series of tips about productivity grouped in the different areas that make up our lives.
I have been encouraged to write this article because I think it is very common to associate productivity with work without realizing that we can also integrate it into our personal life in order to discover that the day has many more hours than we thought to enjoy our family, friends and hobbies.
As you will see later, in the article I have compiled a large number of tips. The list begins by talking about those who I think can help you be more productive in your work environment to gradually go deeper into the personal field, which is the real reason for this article.
Just as first you can think that the amount of tips I mention is overwhelming. In fact, I think it would be crazy to think that it is possible to follow each and every one of them (we would look like “robots”!! 😅😅). That is why I encourage you to see them for what they are: advice, not obligations. It will depend on you to choose those that can help you and which ones to discard because they simply “don’t fit you”.
So that said, let’s start!
Working with the computer
Here you will find tips that will help you be more productive when you work with a computer, something that is already a common denominator in many jobs.
A section for this? Yes, it really deserves it. You would be surprised at the amount of time we lose by not being familiar with the computer or by not knowing all the tools we have when we work with it.
- Learn the keyboard shortcuts of the applications you work with most often. Photoshop, development environments and even Office have a large number of keyboard shortcuts that allow you to perform actions much faster without having to navigate through various menus.
- Familiarize yourself with your computer’s search engine or with the label system. Finding things faster is always appreciated without feeling that the mess has started to invade your hard drive.
- Increase mouse speed. I have it almost at the top on my Mac and the difference is abysmal (here you can see how to modify it if you use MacOS or Windows).
- Maintain clean and empty the desk of your computer, please. Whenever I see a desk full of files, I think of those tables full of papers, filing cabinets and full drawers where looking for something becomes an impossible mission.
- If the computer is your main work tool, invest in a good computer that does not take 2 minutes to boot or hangs every time you open more than 3 tabs in the browser.
- Make sure you have a good Internet connection, especially if you are freelancers or need speed. Let the pages open almost before ordering.
- A second monitor is always good. Especially if you work with a laptop. As soon as you see the possibilities of having two screens with their different applications open you will not want to work with only one.
- Google is your friend. I would say that 90% of the common problems that can occur in a work day have already happened to someone and have had the good of publishing it. Therefore, learn to search on Google to find quick solutions to problems.
- And please, having WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter or any other social network open while trying to carry out a task is like trying to work in the middle of a village festival. Schedule time windows to consult them but avoid leaving them in the background ringing and distracting you.
In this section I have compiled a series of general tips that will help you improve your productivity at work regardless of which area or sector you belong to.
These tips that you will find below have been compiled based on my experience since I started working. I have put them into practice at some time or another, so I can assure you that the improvement you will get is considerable and will give you the feeling of moving much faster.
So I propose that you choose the most compatible ones you see with your day to day and carry them out for a month, the results will surprise you (and no, I promise it is not a “clickbait” 🎣).
- Take short breaks every hour. Try to take a 5-minute walk, stretch your legs. 6 hours in a row sitting is not good for anyone and many times those mini breaks will allow you to clear your mind if you were in trouble.
- Say goodbye to the endless meetings and plan what you will talk about them in order not to wander and get to the point. In my opinion, more than an hour is often excessive and people lose their concentration.
- Do first the difficult tasks! I think this is the best advice I can help you. Start working on the toughest tasks first since that is when you are full of energy and leave the simple ones for the end of the day (this way you will not get bogged down in a task that forces you to stay longer than you should in the office).
- Plan your day before starting it. For me it is essential to be clear about what I have to do every day.
- Avoid the “tap on the shoulder” while you are focused. This is one of the main thieves of productivity that exist and the worst thing is that we are not aware.
- Invest in a good chair if you are freelance and learn to take an ergonomic posture. I am delighted with the Markus of Ikea but for tastes the colors.
- Eat well. I have decided to add this advice here because for a while now I have begun to assess the dose of extra energy that provides a good diet. If you do not have time (in my case almost never) there are options of tuppers prepared at a good price and that take care of week by week.
- The closer to home the better. 2 hours of travel per day is 10 hours a week which takes us up to 40 hours in a month, that is, almost two days of mandatory travel (this is the key, no matter how much you read on the train or watch series you follow being forced to invest that time). Imagine the amount of time you would earn for yourself working nearby (in fact, this is one of the main reasons why I prefer to work as a freelancer).
- Again, keep your desk organized, but this time the physical one. I think there is nothing more anti-motivational than sitting at work at a desk where disorder reigns.
- Get familiar with the productivity method “Gettings things done” or any other. You will learn to make lists of useful tasks and empty your head of unnecessary information like the typical one: “I have to remember to write to X”.
- And please, do yourself a favor and keep your schedule.
We now turn to more common topics. Because not everything will be work as I promised you at the beginning of the article. In this section you will find tips on how you can improve your travel or at least take advantage of them so that they are not “wasted time”.
Unless you are a caveman, the most normal thing is that every day you have to make 3/4 trips around the city. This time as I said before is usually “lost time” because in the end it is about going from one place to another, right?
However, I think it is possible to take advantage of it to perform a secondary task that allows us to enrich ourselves. Here are some ideas.
- Get used to walking fast and take it as an extra dose of exercise.
- Move by public transport, bicycle or walking. These are my 3 usual ways of moving around Madrid (in fact I don’t have a car) and I am delighted. I take less time to the sites, I save the stress of parking and incidentally they serve to stretch my legs. Can you ask for more? I know you will be tempted to include the electric skateboard here but I am of the opinion that a little walk is healthier than going on wheels without doing anything.
- Say goodbye to elevators or escalators. Since it is often difficult to take time to practice an hour a day of exercise, how about taking advantage of the flights of stairs for the child to exercise their hearts a little and give them some activity in exchange for the 8 hours we spent sitting?
- If for whatever reason you are obliged to travel by car, do not always try to park next door. Parking ten minutes from the site is not bad either and it is probably the time you spend finding the right place.
A little more time, please
Probably like you, one of the things that irritate me the most is having to stand in line. That time when you can only look at the mobile while looking left or right thinking if the other queue is the fastest …
Having remembered this “pleasant” moment here I leave some tips with what you can avoid having to wait for queues or perform activities at certain times where everything goes much more agile.
Note. As you have seen, many of the advice I have already mentioned are intended to combat what I call time-thieves, that is, situations in which we fall involuntarily and that take away a considerable amount of minutes so that, if we could avoid them, we had one more hour a day.
- Take advantage of the fact that many companies already have alternative payment methods to avoid waiting for queues. For example, many supermarkets already have automatic boxes just like Ikea. In addition Starbucks already allows you to buy coffee from the application and pick it up when you arrive at the store without having to wait or McDonalds itself has tablets from which to place your order. In these types of cases, the less we have to interact, the faster we will go.
- Try to do things thinking like an “outsider”. For example, go shopping or the bank at different times than the bulk of the population goes. Less people, less queues (again), more free time for you.
- You can also save some time thanks to Amazon / Amazon Prime or the services of riders that bring you practically anything without having to move you. In my case, all Simba (my dog) articles I order online and I save the occasional trip to the vet.
- Dispense with the car. There is nothing more frustrating than a morning traffic jam or the search for parking so take advantage of new forms of travel and give them a chance. In addition, as I said before it will also help you to do some exercise.
Productivity at home
Another area in which we can improve our productivity is in housework. Ironing, scrubbing, sweeping … are activities that are generally tedious and usually fall into the category of “steal-times”.
Below you can find a few tips that I have followed since I became independent so that you learn to spend less time than necessary in this type of tasks.
From my experience I can assure you that adopting them in your house cleaning and maintenance routine will help you have more time for other activities. And if you also work from home just as I do, you will feel that your workspace is just as clean and tidy as that of an office in use (something that is essential for me).
- Keep an order. Make sure things are where they are expected and you don’t have to spend time looking for them.
- If you can afford it, delegate those tasks that cost you the most. This was one of the first things I assumed when I became independent. I usually bill the companies I work with for hours, so making accounts is “more profitable” to hire someone to help me with the basic tasks instead of investing my time in doing them. That “profitability” in fact is not necessary that you measure it in money but that you can also value it in free time for you.
- Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry. Surely you will spend more money and time choosing products that your stomach is wanting to digest when really many of them did not even have them listed.
- Do not leave the television on during dinner (unless you live alone 😁). Get used to talking to your family or people with whom you share an apartment instead of letting Netflix solve that task for you.
- Try to get used to not snooze the alarm. Generally those extra minutes are not as beneficial as we sometimes think and will help you form a routine.
- Get used to finishing the showers with cold water, it will help you clear yourself and activate your circulation (I know it is more difficult in winter ❄️❄️❄️).
- Acquire products that automate certain tasks. Recently we gave my mother a Rumba and she is delighted and I am considering it to have the clearest floor of my dog’s hairs.
- Do not become obsessed with cleanliness. It takes a lot of effort and dedication to have a clean house and most likely the next day dust will appear again. My advice is that you set an acceptable minimum and get used to keeping it. In my case it is to avoid having my dog’s hair on the floor, to have the sink clean before the end of the day and to lower the trash every two days.
One of the attitudes that we should never lose is to continue learning things, because only in that way will we continue to progress in our personal goals while feeling that we are progressing as an human being.
I consider myself a very curious person. I often read books about fields that have nothing to do with my specialty (for example, I recently finished one that I loved about the human evolution of Juan Luis Arsuaga) and I love to continue training in my area of expertise (development of websites and applications).
And every time I acquire a new knowledge I feel that I have progressed a little more, so from here I encourage you to never stop training.
Here are some tips that can help you so that you can also continue learning.
- Train yourself in what really interests you. Many times society “imposes” what we must learn, but there is no worse student than the one who has no interest in what he is learning.
- If you need to learn something to improve your work position, do not throw yourself headlong to the master who is now a trend but choose what best balances your motivation with the supposed labor benefits that will bring you. Otherwise you will end up burned.
- Reserve a study space where you can learn what you have chosen. It can be a quiet corner of your house or a cafeteria, but associate it in your mind as your “learning corner”.
- Match everything you learn. Many fields are related in ways we do not imagine and knowing these relationships help to have a more global vision of how the world works.
- Keep a learning diary where you go collecting those things that you learn. This generally serves to maintain motivation as you fill out sheets.
- Try to contact experts in what you are learning. Many people are willing to share their knowledge with others so they lose their shame and encourage them to write them an email with your doubts (or even attacks).
- Try to always learn something new. Little more to say. For me it is the main advice I can give you on this subject.
Improving day by day
And finally we come to the most important point of this article because, as I said at the beginning of the article, productivity should not only be seen as a way of performing at work, but also can help us improve in our day to day.
That is why I have made a small mix of both purely productivity advice and others that are related to well-being but that, if we follow them, will make us more clear and motivated to comply with everything we set out to do.
I hope you find them interesting and that they help you grow and improve in your day to day.
- Travel twice a year to places you don’t know. Nothing inspires more than leaving the comfort zone from time to time and discover new places. Good ideas generally arise when we are not fully involved in the daily routine.
- Find your “reason why”, “ikigai” or whatever you want to call it but establish your own vital project and decide where you are going to direct your steps. Summer is usually a good time to try to find out.
- Learn to meditate. Reserve 10 minutes a day to be with yourself without any external stimulus. You will appreciate it and more now that we are imbued in a constant bombardment of notifications.
- Practice some sport or yoga. You know that “mens sana in corpore sano”. I believe that nothing helps more to be productive than to be in an acceptable physical condition. In addition it will also allow you to release all the accumulated stress.
- ¡Prioritize !!!!!!!! Unfortunately, the day has 24 hours and it is impossible to do without sleep so choose what you want to do and learn to give up those activities that you would love to do but for which you do not have time at that time in your life.
- Book the last 15 minutes before bedtime without mobile or screens. I personally find it harder to fall asleep if I go straight from the computer or iPad to bed.
- Learn to delegate. Trust others and don’t try to do everything by yourself.
- Take a break from time to time. In addition to weekends it is always necessary to disconnect and free ourselves from the “weight” of the daily routine. Having a clear mind is essential if we want to continue improving both in our personal and work life. And well, the body also needs to rest from time to time.
- Meet people. Try to make plans, expand your group of friends … Luckily social networks and applications like Meetup help a lot in this task and help share your interests with people like you.
- Listen to those people. Do not close in band in your opinions. As much as they say there are no absolute truths on any subject. Learn to debate and enrich yourself with the opinion of those who don’t think like you. Don’t build your own “echo chamber.”
- Watch your health. As you suspect, in a poor state of health or physical it is impossible to undertake anything. Take care to be in top form and reserve one day a year for that physical check-up that always makes you lazy to do yourself.
- Read. I want to finish the article encouraging you not to lose interest in reading. There is nothing better in my opinion to disconnect and discover new worlds.
Lord, give me strength to change what I can change, the serenity necessary to accept what I cannot change, and the wisdom to distinguish between the two.
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