Waste Less Time by Being Selective

How To Spark Your Productivity

This is Part 2 of 4-Part series about how to overcome common barriers to productivity and reignite your inner fire. Looking for the other parts? PART 1 | PART 3 | PART 4

 PART 2: Waste Less Time by Being Selective

A huge part of our life everyday is spent doing things other than what we should be doing. We get caught by distractions. They eat up our energy. We end up procrastinating. Our joy and productivity suffer as we waste time on nonessential activities.

The solution is to mindfully direct your attention away from mindlessly distracting elements. The key to achieve this is to practice being selective in what you give attention to throughout the day.

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Here are 14 tips to help you waste less time and be more selective:

  1. If you find yourself doing meaningless time wasters to avoid a task, try doing nothing. You will soon find yourself anxious to do anything, including the task you found so repelling.

  1. Simplify your work area by starting a clutter box for things you don’t have a place for – all those things you might need for something, but have no idea for what.

  1. Invest the most effort in those areas that produce the most results. Save non-productive tasks for your spare time.

  1. “What if..” is all right in the planning stage, but once a plan is established, drop the “ifs” and focus on what must be done. It’s too easy to get sidetracked by uncertainty in the middle of a project.

  1. When you can’t motivate yourself to get a job done, list the benefits of doing it versus the reasons for not doing it. See which side is more compelling. Maybe the reason you are unmotivated is that some of other task is a better use of your time right now. Don’t spend time on projects that you are stuck on. Instead come back to them later.

  1. If you need to get something done and keep procrastinating, make an appointment with yourself and treat it as seriously as an appointment with your boss or a client.

  1. If you are avoiding a job because it is too big, divide it into manageable sections and complete them one at a time.

  1. Know the limits of your job. Don’t “manufacture” busy work to avoid what you should really be doing. And don’t waste time duplicating other people’s work.

  1. Group similar tasks together. Example: run all errands together, return all phone calls at the same time, answer email as you open it. The longer you wait, the more ominous and unpleasant a task seems. It’s much less stressful to “bite the bullet” and get it done now.

  1. Intentionally minimize distractions. Don’t let every “emergency” that comes along interrupt your planned work. And keep unnecessary distractions out of your work area.

  1. When you can’t find enough hours in the day to finish your work, keep a work diary. Write down what you did and the amount of time it took. After two weeks, look for patterns of wasted time, bad habits, disorganization, procrastination, etc.

  1. When you are under emotional stress, focus on task-oriented jobs that can be completed without emotional or creative input.

  1. Don’t leave loose ends. You can spend more time avoiding tying them up than you would have to finish them in the first place.

  1. Delegate selectively. Delegate work that can be done by others, starting with the jobs you dislike most. Avoid delegating work you enjoy.

This article is adapted from the book, 1001 Ways to Motivate Yourself & Others.

To be continued in PART 3

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