How to be More Productive

My experience with being productive

In my sophomore year at university, I suffered from debilitating depression. Most of the time, I could feel my mind shrinking and dissolving within me. I had a barrage of schoolwork to do. And in the span of a short time, I spiralled down the chasm of depression. This affected everything: my relationships, my grades, and, most importantly, my mind. I avoided people and I usually sat for hours, staring into nothingness while undone work filled my corner desk. It is comical how staring into space becomes an engaging pastime when there is so much to do. The reason for this was simple. I did not know how to be productive, let alone know how to be more productive. I was in my third year before I knew how to get myself in order and to stay that way.

The reality of being more productive

Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, or even a student, there is an intimidating reality to face. The fact that you surely cannot escape work. Things and tasks won’t do themselves. You have to do them. This is the ultimate test of how well you can be productive. However, it is often the case nowadays that many of us simply cannot, as hard as we try, keep up with the amount of work that we have to do. And that is often the beginning of the problem because just the knowledge that we have more work than we can handle (or so we think) is enough to steer us off course.

The irony is that instead of getting right down to some tasks, we spend time thinking of the pile confronting us. That, in itself, eats up the little time we have. It would be very close to the truth when I say that we all, at one point or another, struggle with being productive, that is, getting more done.

And if this is the case with a typical and regular work setting, you can imagine what it is like for people who have climbed up to the higher rungs of the ladder, especially in the business world. It must be a real bugbear. But the fact is that the people we see that are doing quite well- be they students, entrepreneurs, or managers and directors of companies- have figured out something that people who are struggling with time management and a fecund sense of duty have not. The subsequent paragraphs will reveal some of these ‘how to be more productive’ tips.

Too Busy to be Productive?

 Task productivity

One of the most potent ways to be productive at work or in any situation, at best, is to eliminate first the word, ‘busy’, from one’s vocabulary. It is often said that no one is ever too busy. It is just a matter of priorities. You know how people can be so eager to say, “oh, I’ve been so busy”, as if somehow, it is a status symbol or a symbol of prestige. It is now more or less a trend to look upon someone who tells everyone who cares to listen, how busy they are with a certain level of respect, albeit subliminally. There’s really nothing noble about always being busy. In fact, it paints one as inefficient, for one is always so busy because one cannot manage one’s time and level of work

As much as you might not enjoy doing this, do a thorough (maybe not so thorough, but do it anyway) time analysis allocated to tasks. Let the most important tasks come first. There is a certain CEO of a reputable company who is known for arriving at his office in the morning to begin to tackle the most difficult task lined up, even if it took all day.

How to be more productive by taking a break

Here’s a shocker- Taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration and productivity. Some research has shown, on one hand, that taking short breaks during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance; while, on the other hand, working on a task without a break(s) lead(s) to a steady decline in performance.  The mind can then refresh itself and start off on a fresh note. Some people worry about losing momentum while working, so they prefer to ‘keep at it’ till a resolution. However, your brain can get tired and the quality of the work it puts out diminishes unless you take a break. The brain (the pathway to the mind) can start from where you left off which is the beauty in it.

This is essential: I’ve been itching for an opportunity to lay this out. Don’t be a meeting robot. Generally, meetings annoy me because they stand as an enemy of productivity, especially those meetings where everyone sits and listens. Rather, be a non-conformist and go for something called standing meetings. Of course, just as the name implies, everyone stands in this kind of meeting and, as a consequence, are alert. These have been proven to arouse creativity and productivity among team players in a workplace because, most times, this kind of meetings are extemporaneous, probably because someone came up with an idea that needs to be shared with others. I believe this can also work in other situations that involve interaction with others. Even though it is most applicable in work settings.  

Cut off the Perfection Fantasy!

Finally, don’t get caught up in the fantasy of perfection. It is laudable for one to be inclined to perfection, particularly in terms of tasks. However, this can be rather far-fetched, especially when there is still a ton of things to do. Aiming for perfection which will definitely slow you down and make you do less. Instead, do the best you can as regards a task and MOVE ON. “Done is better than perfect.” the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, once said.  Some would be quick to contend that perfectionism should be idealised. Of course, it should. However, when a supposedly positive trait in one’s life impinges on one’s efficacy, then it reduces on the positivity scale. When one’s effort at perfection is jostling one’s life and work into an unfavourable position, then it becomes a problem. A big one.       

Being at YOUR Best

The element of productivity can be a rewarding source of satisfaction. You know, that feeling of knowing that you’re a boss (in the Nigerian parlance) because you have done something praiseworthy. This is all the more the reason for one to perfect it. It is in doing so that one can nail down a crucial facet of one’s effort at self-improvement. All in the name of being the best that we can be…

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