What is productivity? It is the act of producing something. At work, right? Despite popular belief, productivity is not limited to our 9-5 work hours. There is a need to produce in every aspect of our life–all day long.
Take parents for example, no matter what, they have a responsibility to function in the parental role. This could be anything from cooking dinner, helping the children with homework, running errands, cleaning, family worship, and so on.
What if one day mom/dad decided that they weren’t going to do anything but eat popcorn and watch movies on the couch? Their children would be as shocked as a deer in headlights. What? No mom? No dad? Who will take care of us? What will become of us?? We’re all gonna die!
Eternal thanks to Jesus for His many parables. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of three individuals who were given the responsibility of producing something from the talents they were given. They were tasked to produce. That story is as much about productivity as it is using the gifts that God’s given us.
His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!’ Matthew 25:23
What is productivity? The act of faithfully producing something from the resources God has provided. Yes, it’s the same definition, but this time we’re acknowledging whom we’re producing for.
Now that we’ve put productivity into focus, let’s see what hacks God has revealed to His children to make it possible and practical.
PRODUCTIVITY HACK #1 Create a Realistic To-do List
Let’s be real, we’re not Alexander the Great. We don’t need to aggressively try and conquer the world every day. What we do need to do is have a focus. Create a realistic to-do list of 3-5 items on it sets achievable parameters in your mind.
Why do resolutions made in January often fail, oh so tragically, for so many Americans? One reason is that their resolutions lack focus. We need to establish a clear focus in order to meet our daily goals.
Every since I began making lists in my planner before going grocery shopping, my trips have become more productive. I know what I need and don’t have to wander from aisle to aisle frustratingly trying to recall what was missing from my fridge. Boy, am I calmer while shopping because I don’t have to think so hard! I spend less time shopping. Oh and here’s the kicker: I spend less money.
So, create a list of 3-5 specific items that are realistic to tackle each day. You’ll feel more accomplished because your goals are more attainable.
PRODUCTIVITY HACK #2 Track and Limit How Much Time You’re Spending on Tasks
Now that you’ve created your short to-do list, it’s time to dive in. Let’s do this thang! Be watchful over how much time we spend on each task. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst and 10 being the best), how good are you at gauging how you spend your time? Keep that number in mind, we’ll come back to is in a moment.
You say that you want to spend 30 minutes after work reading a book on personal finance. With book in hand, you snuggle into your favorite spot on your couch, blanket in tow, and ready to read.
You begin reading. (5 min)
You get a text from a friend and stop to read it and recall to promptly reply since you’re such a great friend. (5 min)
A notification appears that someone liked and commented on your latest Instagram post. So you click on the notification to see who it was. Then decide to check on your Instagram feed as to not miss any vital updates. (10 minutes)
Then you get the genius idea to quickly check on your Facebook because you’d hate to miss any vital updates. (15 minutes)
Finally tired of rotating your thumb in an upward motion over and over again, you close out Facebook and pick up your book.
Sound familiar? When we set out complete a task, our minds often get pulled in so many other directions. We thought we would spend 30 minutes reading and could handle having our phone in the same room, but instead, we spent five minutes reading and 30 minutes distracted.
People can be awful at estimating time. What feels like 5 minutes on Facebook was more times than not 15 minutes. How well did you say you were at gauging time from 1 to 10? No matter what number you are here is what you can do to help your mind better perceive time.
- Literally, track your time. Whether you use your timer on your phone or use the clock on your wall, designate a start time and end time and stick to it.
- A tool like RescueTime will run securely in the background of your computer or mobile device. It will track how much time you spend on applications and websites. Then, at the end of the day, it will provide you with a detailed report on your day based on your activities.
PRODUCTIVITY HACK #3 Take a Break
It’s no secret that Americans are overworked. Our work culture is vastly different from our European counterparts, for example. Being worked to the bone is not a sign of productivity. Both our minds and our bodies need to be refreshed throughout the day. So, take a break! Remove yourself from your computer or mobile device and stretch or go for a walk.
Love yourself! Health.com shares that those who toke two separate breaks said that they had more “energy, more motivation to return to work and were better able to concentrate.”
Even if you’re not working at your dream job, you’ll feel better about your day when you feel better about yourself. If you are working at your dream job, then you’ll feel more fulfilled because you feel better about yourself. Here are some exercises that you can do at work:
Alright friends, I hope these three practical tips help you to increase your productivity. Keep your to-do lists short, track your time and take breaks throughout the day. If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again!
Which productivity hack will you try in the next few days? Leave a comment and let’s chat. I can’t wait to read what you wrote.
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