According to Eric Barker, there are six actions that the most productive people take every day. To read the complete blog post, learn more about him, and sign up for free alerts, please click here.
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Ever feel like you’re just not getting enough done?
Know how many days per week you’re actually productive? About 3:People work an average of 45 hours a week; they consider about 17 of those hours to be unproductive (U.S.: 45 hours a week; 16 hours are considered unproductive). We could all be accomplishing a lot more — but then again, none of us wants to be a workaholic either.
It’d be great to get tons done and have work/life balance. But how do we do that? I decided to get some answers.
Below are [two of] six tips Tim offers, the science behind why they work, and insight from the most productive people around.
Manage Your Mood
Most productivity systems act like we’re robots — they forget the enormous power of feelings.
If you start the day calm it’s easy to get the right things done and focus.
But when we wake up and the fray is already upon us — phone ringing, emails coming in, fire alarms going off — you spend the whole day reacting.
This means you’re not in the driver’s seat working on your priorities, you’re responding to what gets thrown at you, important or not.
Here’s Tim: “I try to have the first 80 to 90 minutes of my day vary as little as possible. I think that a routine is necessary to feel in control and non-reactive, which reduces anxiety. It therefore also makes you more productive. Research shows how you start the day has an enormous effect on productivity and you procrastinate more when you’re in a bad mood.”
Studies demonstrate happiness increases productivity and makes you more successful.
As Shawn Achor describes in his book The Happiness Advantage: “…doctors put in a positive mood before making a diagnosis show almost three times more intelligence and creativity than doctors in a neutral state, and they make accurate diagnoses 19 percent faster. Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56 percent. Students primed to feel happy before taking math achievement tests far outperform their neutral peers. It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive.”
So think a little less about managing the work and a little more about managing your moods. (For more on how to be happier, go here.)
So what’s the first step to managing your mood after you wake up?
Don’t Check Email In The Morning
To some people this is utter heresy. Many can’t imagine not waking up and immediately checking email or social media feeds. I’ve interviewed a number of very productive people and nobody said, “Spend more time with email.”
Why is checking email in the morning a cardinal sin? You’re setting yourself up to react.
An email comes in and suddenly you’re giving your best hours to someone else’s goals, not yours.
You’re not planning your day and prioritizing, you’re letting your objectives be hijacked by whoever randomly decides to enter your inbox.
Here’s Tim again: “…whenever possible, do not check email for the first hour or two of the day. It’s difficult for some people to imagine. “How can I do that? I need to check email to get the information I need to work on my most important one or two to-dos?”
You would be surprised how often that is not the case. You might need to get into your email to finish 100% of your most important to-dos. But can you get 80 or 90% done before you go into Gmail and have your rat brain explode with freak-out, dopamine excitement and cortisol panic? Yes!
Research shows email:
o Stresses you out.
o Can turn you into a jerk.
o Can be more addictive than alcohol and tobacco.
o And checking email frequently is the equivalent of dropping your IQ 10 points.
Is this really how you want to start your day? (For more on how to avoid the email trap and spend time wisely go here.)
Great, so you know what not to do. But a bigger question looms: what should you be doing?
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From the horse’s mouth….
“Hi. I’m Eric, the guy behind the blog. This site brings you science-based answers and expert insight on how to be awesome at life. It’s been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine and Time Magazine. The story behind the URL name, “Barking Up the Wrong Tree,” is here. You can email me here.”