Get Things Done! How Time Chunking Improves Productivity

By Elisi Studios

Just 7 percent of American workers say that they feel productive during working hours. We can guess that the rest struggle to get things done. 

You may have a long list of things to do. And yet, you get constantly distracted and never complete every task by the end of the day.

Are you desperate for another way of getting things done? Check out this blog to explore how time chunking could help you be more productive in your day

1. What is Time Chunking?

You may think you can actually multi-task constantly. Just get everything done all at the same time.

However, researchers at Stanford University have found that this doesn’t work. In fact, people who try to multitask could even impair their cognitive control.

But, that doesn’t mean that you need to slowly tackle one task at one time. You can adopt the time chunking method instead.

Rather than reading emails, answering the phone and cooking dinner at the same time, you chunk similar activities together.

For example, you could have a bunch of social media tasks to do today. You should chunk that by doing them all in the same slot of your schedule.

2. Keep Your Objective in Mind

When you’re tackling a task, you could quickly forget why you’re doing it. Just ensure that you’re reminded of your goal all of the time.

If you don’t remain goal-oriented, you could end up getting distracted by people’s requests for your attention or checking the news.

The goal may not need enough. You could need to give yourself more incentives to motivate yourself to keep going.

3. Planning the Chunks in Your Schedule 

It may not always be obvious which tasks can be “chunked” together. That’s why it’s so important to plan before you get started.

Once you have created your time chunks, you may have a few miscellaneous tasks. You can simply put these together at the end as a time chunk.

Then, you need to create a schedule to determine when you’re going to achieve your tasks. You can use blocks of time in your calendar to ensure that you get everything done.

4. Learn to Stay Focused  

Time chunking only works if you can focus. The constant checking of our smartphones has undermined our capacity to concentrate.

Wearing headphones or going somewhere quiet can help to avoid other people talking to you when you’re doing your tasks.

If you don’t need the internet for your task, turn off your computer and smartphone. They will only distract you further.

Time Chunking

Don’t confuse being busy all the time with actually getting things done. You’re not productive because you’re always working on tasks.

The time chunking method can help you to improve your results and get more done quicker. Now you know how it works!

Do you want to explore more ways that you can be more productive? Check out our blog with much more. 

Practical Bullet Journal Ideas to Keep You Motivated to Crush Your Goals

By Elisi Studios

Bullet journaling has become one of the most popular methods to organize your life, accomplish goals, and track your daily habits. Instead of buying dated planners that don’t cover each area of your life, you get to make your own journal.

Whether you keep it simple and minimalistic or prefer to add an artistic touch, a bullet journal is the best way to get your life in order. Journaling can make you more productive, happier, calmer, and better organized. It’s also therapeutic because your mind stays in the present moment and is focused on creating the spreads.

Here are the best bullet journal ideas you should try and watch your life change for the better.

Daily Log

Your daily log is a plan or a list of all the activities you have to do during the day. It’s not a long to-do list that you can’t get to the bottom of; instead, it’s a tracker where you plan your day into organized chunks.

Typically, a daily log consists of sections, including daily meals, morning/night routines, daily goals, activities, appointments, and notes. This will help you stay productive every day and see the progress you’ve made. 

Habit Tracker

If you’re trying to break an old habit or create a new one, a habit tracker is the best tool for the job. Seeing what your habits are every day will help you understand your patterns so you can slowly change them.

Start by making a list of the habits you want to implement for 30 days and each day, fill in one the entries with different markers.

Future Project List

Goal setting is easy, but accomplishing those goals takes a deep level of strength and dedication. Most bullet journal spreads include a future project list that outlines all the goals you have for the near future.

This spread will help you break down your goals into actionable steps so you can keep track of your progress. You can do this for a month, a quarter, or the entire year.

Mood Tracker

Your mood can change several times during the day and that’s normal. However, if you’re experiencing profound mood changes that affect your life negatively, you should try tracking your mood. Even if you want to actively improve your mood, a mood tracker can be a great bullet journal inspiration to see how far you’ve come.

You can make a color-coded list of moods and fill in each day. Then, at the end of the month, you’ll see the overall result. This is a great way to check-in with yourself and see if you need to change anything.

Brain Dump

Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed and overworked, grab your bullet journal and do a brain dump. This section doesn’t require any special drawing or planning skills.

All you do is write down every single thing that comes to your mind, from things to do to emotions, fears, plans, and things that bother you. Brain dumps work so well because they’re therapeutic and help you release all the stuff you’ve been carrying around.

These Bullet Journal Ideas Will Help You Be More Productive in the New Year!

Whether you’re making your New Year’s resolutions or just want to take control over your life, these bullet journal ideas will help you get organized and more productive.

Need more inspiration to succeed? Read this article to learn about the daily habits of other successful people and how you can implement them in your life.

Rapid Planning Method: How to Plan Your Day and Execute With Purpose

By Elisi Studios

Do you ever find that at the end of the day, you’ve spent the whole day working and somehow gotten nothing done? How often do you find yourself scribbling down random to-do lists on whatever piece of paper is on hand and then throwing it away, undone, at the end of the day? What if we told you there’s one quick method that can help you be more productive every day?

The rapid planning method can help you make the most of your time every day. Read on to learn more about how this method works and how you can use it to live life at your own pace.

Result

Step one of the RPM method is to ask yourself what result you really want. The more clear you can be on what you want from the day, the easier it will be to achieve that goal. Try to set SMART goals for your day.

Purpose

Once you’ve determined what it is you want, try to nail down why you want it. If you’re going to achieve difficult goals, you need to have something that’s motivating you to push through. Your purpose is your motivation, the touchstone you can go back to whenever you feel like quitting.

Massive Action Plan

With your result and your purpose in place, it’s time to come up with your massive action plan. This will be the steps you can take to make that result happen, always referring back to your purpose. This will help you devote your energy to efforts that will make a difference rather than wandering around aimlessly.

Commit and Schedule

Once you have your result, purpose, and massive action plan in place, the planning section of your rapid planning method is done. Now it’s time to commit to your plan and schedule a time to get it done. Prioritize the items that must get done, and schedule those things into your day.

Complete and Achieve 

This is where the rubber hits the road – follow your schedule and knock out the goals you’ve set for yourself. If you find yourself flagging and wanting to give up, refer back to your purpose. This will help you find the motivation to keep pushing, checking goals off your list. 

Celebrate

At the end of the day, don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments. Even if you didn’t get everything on your list done, celebrate the things you did complete. This positive reinforcement will help keep you motivated to pursue your goals in the future.

Learn More About the Rapid Planning Method

The rapid planning method can be a great way to increase your effectiveness and productivity and achieve your goals. Remember, start with your desired result, determine your purpose, and make your massive action plan. With those pieces in place, you’ll be amazed at how much you’re smashing your goals.

If you’d like to start being more productive in your own life, check us out at Elisi. We are here to help you live your life at your own pace. Try our app now and get more out of your life.


What Is the F.I.R.E. Movement?

By Elisi Studios

Most people in the United States retire at age 62. However, a new movement that’s getting a lot of attention believes you can retire a lot sooner than that.

It’s known as the F.I.R.E. movement, and it’s no surprise that there are a number of people interested in it because of everything it promises.

Keep reading to learn more about what this movement is and how you can join it to gain financial independence so you can retire as early as you want.

What is the F.I.R.E. Movement?

F.I.R.E stands for financial independence, retire early. It’s a movement filled with people who believe retiring in your 40’s or even 30’s is achievable through hard work and dedication.

How to Catch on F.I.R.E.

Now that you know what this movement is all about, let’s take a look at the four things you need to do so you can retire when you want.

Know Your Retirement Number

The first thing you have to do is figure out your retirement number. This is the amount of money you need to have saved before you can safely retire. There are three things you need to consider to come up with this number.

Life Expectancy

The first thing you want to think about is how long you expect to live and for how many of those you want to be retired. On average, Americans live 78.6 years, but this varies depending on your gender, race, genetics, and location.

Living Expenses

The next thing you need to figure out is how much you expect to spend every month and year during your retirement. Start by looking at your current expenses and thinking about where you want to live and do during retirement.

Ongoing Income

Hopefully part of your retirement plan involves having some type of ongoing income. This could include:

  • Social Security benefits
  • Rental properties
  • Passive income

Once you know your retirement number, you can figure out how much you need to save every year and month to reach this goal.

Lower Your Expenses

The next step is to start budgeting so you can cut out all of the unnecessary expenses in your budget. This could help you save hundreds or even thousands of dollars and is half of the equation to reach your savings goals.

Increase Your Income

For most people, cutting expenses won’t be enough to save the 50% or more of your income you need to retire early. For that reason, you’ll likely have to increase your income by starting a side hustle or working another job.

Create Good Habits

To lower your expenses and increase your income, you have to create good habits. This includes excellent time management along with improving your spending habits.

Ready to Reach Your Goals?

Now you know what the F.I.R.E. movement is and how to retire early. As you can see, it takes hard work and dedication. But it’s worth it to escape the rat race and live life as you want it.

If you’re ready to start achieving your financial goals, check out our app. With it, you can set up habits and start planning for your future so you can build it according to your own dreams.

Achieving A Work-Life Balance Using The GTD Technique

By Elisi Studios

People waste a lot of time. How much? One study involving small business owners discovered they wasted an average of almost 22 hours every week.

You might be wasting time right now, reading this to distract yourself from whatever it is you know you should be doing. Do you struggle to make the most out of your day? A productivity system may provide the discipline you need to stay on track.

Getting Things Done, or GTD, is a technique that can boost your productivity. Never heard of it? Written almost twenty years ago, it’s still considered one of the best books on productivity.

We’ll cover the basics.

What is the GTD System?

The Getting Things Done system doesn’t try to tell you how to do your work. Instead, it focuses on how you organize and tackle your daily obligations. The idea is, without organization, you won’t know where or what to begin.

Trying to remember everything is — well, it’s a waste of time. David Allen, the creator of the system, advocates the use of a to-do list or work calendar. This way, you can concentrate on the task and avoid being overwhelmed.

The Five GTD Methods

There’s a lot to unpack from the GTD methodology. It was a self-help book after all. But when trimmed down to its five basic tenets, it’s easy to understand.

1. Capture

Stop relying on your head to keep everything straight. The first step of the GTD process is to capture every task at hand. And by capture, we mean to get them out of your head and written down on a piece of paper.

Your organizational system doesn’t matter. Choose what fits your fancy. The important part is to, without fail, jot down even the most trivial of tasks.

Whatever you use, make sure it’s convenient and available. The worst thing you can do is tell yourself you’ll write it down later — and then forget.

2. Clarify

Since you’re listing tasks as soon as they come to your head, they’ll need some clarification. Perhaps you remembered you need to finish a college essay. Don’t leave it on your to-do list as complete college essay.

That doesn’t give you a good place to start. Break it into pieces, such as researchessayconstruct outline, and so forth.

3. Organize

Now that you’ve broken your tasks into smaller parts, take some time to prioritize them. Remember to consider the deadlines of these projects, as well as your workload.

During this step, you should also categorize similar actions. Have a lot of writing to do? Clump those assignments together.

4. Reflect

Priorities change. As more tasks spring up, you may realize an assignment was not as stressing as it was before. You should spend a few times each day skimming through your list and making changes should you find them necessary.

As well as looking for changes, you should reflect on your current tasks. If you don’t look at your list to keep yourself organized, then what’s the point of making one?

5. Engage

With an organized list full of simple actions, you’ll know which task to start first. Keep your priority system in mind and work through your list at your leisure. Not only does this system erase the anxiety that comes with disorganization, but it also gives you the clear guidance you need to get started.

And getting started is everything.

Stay Organized With Elisi

The entire GTD system is hinged on the use of an intelligent and convenient planner. Simply put: Taking notes on your phone won’t be good enough.

Instead, consider the Elisi app. It’s a comprehensive digital journal that features a calendar, a to-do list, notes, and more. Try the Elisi app and see how it can increase your productivity.

Personal Time-management System 7: Improving Focus and Concentration (3/3)

By Ryan Douglas

3.Exercise

Another cornerstone of brain power and good health. The impact of exercise on focus and concentration may not be as apparent as food. However, the resulting increase in energy levels and stamina are palpable.

Exercise also releases dopamine- which has been proven to increase happiness and confidence. And when you’re confident in yourself, it shows in your efforts.

You’re more apt to produce quality work that you’re proud of. You take chances and become more spontaneous. People who exercise take risks that they might not have otherwise. Which leads to even more confidence, increased abilities, and a stronger belief in what you’re capable of.

Elisi can help here as well.

Utilizing the built-in habit tracking function, it’s easy to log your workouts and move towards your fitness goals. Once configured, the Elisi app automatically calculates your progress. As your active streak trends upward, it becomes a habit that you don’t want to break.

4.Quality Sleep

A severely underrated tactic for improving focus and concentration. Research shows that sleep improves almost every single process in the human body.

Which seems strange considering that modern society views sleep deprivation as a badge of honor. Many think hustling, grinding, or being relentless is the only way to get ahead. Yet, that’s simply not true.

Studies confirm sleep has a pronounced impact on memory and learning and helps us achieve peak performance. Some mistakenly believe caffeine or other stimulants can make up for bad sleep habits, but that’s not the case.

There is no substitute for getting good sleep each night.

So, go ahead. Turn off your electronics, read for a few minutes, and then power down for the night. In the morning, you’ll find yourself more refreshed, alert, and focused on the tasks ahead.

Focusing Training

Aside from the techniques and tactics previously mentioned, it helps to remember that better focus and concentration are skills that anyone can develop. But it does take desire, intention, and consistency to experience results.

1.Mental Exercise

In many ways, training your mind is like training your body. What seems difficult at first tends to get easier with time. Establishing your routine comes first but sticking with it each day is what facilitates progress.

Because as you continue training your mental strength improves. You’re able to focus and concentrate for longer periods of time. Your tasks get done faster. And you produce higher-quality work to show for it.

A good analogy is thinking about the propeller on an airplane. It takes tremendous force to complete the first few revolutions. Yet, once you start generating momentum, each successful revolution requires less effort.

Your focus might be weak right now. But with regular practice, it will get better.

2.Stumbling Blocks

We’re all human and human beings possess a finite amount of willpower. We can focus for only so long before we exhaust ourselves. And, as much as we try and fight it, humans give in to temptation.

The key is to recognize this process for what it is – part of life. Things come up, family members get sick, and well, sometimes, we just don’t want to do the work.

And that’s okay.

Rarely does anyone have a successful outcome on the first (or even the 10th) try of anything. It takes countless iterations to strike the right balance and achieve our goals.

But in the meantime, we have to be like Elsa and “let it go.”

3.Forgive Yourself

The final step in improving mental clarity. If you do lose momentum and veer off course sometimes, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just gently right the ship and bring yourself back on track.

A slip-up doesn’t mean abandoning your goals, losing faith, or punishing yourself forever. Give yourself permission to fail and vow to try again. Learn from your mistakes, figure out what you can do differently next time, and take it from there.

Conclusion

In the end, improving focus and concentration is more of a marathon than a sprint. Each daily practice builds upon itself to create a larger, more meaningful end result.

Techniques like pomodoro sprints, scheduled time blocks, and distraction-free environments can help. However, sustainable improvement also requires a holistic approach.

For instance, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine. Meditating, relaxing, and getting a good night’s sleep. Along with being kind to yourself and practicing forgiveness when you hit those inevitable stumbles.

Tools like Elisi make the entire process easier. Offloading thoughts and organizing ideas in your digital bullet journal frees up mental space, reduces stress, and allows you to be more productive.

And isn’t that what we’re all trying to achieve?

Open your FREE Elisi account today to get started.

Personal Time-management System 6: Improving Focus and Concentration (2/3)

By Ryan Douglas

3.Eliminating Distractions

Yet another technique that goes hand-in-hand with improving productivity and focus. We live in a world of distractions which can take over our lives (if we let them). Yet, with proper planning, we can strike a balance between modern conveniences and improved focus. Consider the following:

Internet blocking apps – that keep you from accessing the web or social media during focused work periods. Many assume a quick check-in on Twitter or visit to Amazon is no big deal. However, the next thing you know you’ve wasted 30 minutes with nothing to show for it.

Blocking the web eliminates a large portion of the distractions we face.

A quiet workspace – it seems obvious, but many fail to recognize the importance of a quiet workspace. A busy coffee shop is great for socializing, but probably not the ideal fit for deep thinking or focused work. Likewise, trying to be creative while partners, roommates, or children are nearby is often difficult.

If you can, retreat to a quiet location to concentrate on your work. If that’s not possible, put on some headphones or (softly) play some music to drown out background noise.

Studies show that classical music works best, but most anything without lyrics will do. As long as whatever you’re listening to doesn’t create more distraction.

Developing a routine – besides being a great way to get in the zone, routines help remove willpower from the equation. Routines signal your brain that it’s time to switch into work mode and get focused.

Routines are unique to each person, but many have common elements. Such as location, time of day, or mindset. Even playing a certain song can signal that it’s time to get going. However, you should limit using these items for your focused work time only.

Otherwise, they lose significance and you end up diluting the process.

Besides focusing techniques, there are also a number of generalized tactics that can be used to improve concentration.

Focusing Tactics

Rather than zeroing in on a specific outcome or goal, focusing tactics are more about general physical and mindset improvements. Each of which you further develop by way of continuous practice.

1.Meditation

An excellent tool to sharpen focus, awareness, and concentration. Those who’ve never meditated often dismiss the idea but scientific research proves that meditation works.

One of the many benefits of meditation is how it trains participants to ignore distractions and focus on what’s happening at the moment.

In fact, the central theme of meditation is completely relaxing your mind. Yet, simultaneously, bringing your thoughts back to a central focus as the brain begins to wander. While this practice can feel incredibly difficult at first, it gets easier as time goes on.

Meditation improves your ability to focus and concentrate throughout daily life.

You’ll notice minor annoyances that used to steal your attention no longer matter. And when you eventually do get pulled off track, it’s easier to regain focus. Meditation also allows you to be calmer and less reactive to the external factors around you.

The value of which (in an increasingly “noisy” world) cannot be overstated.

2.Proper Nutrition

We’ve heard it time and time again, but this advice rings true. What you put into your body directly impacts your mental acuity. Nourishing yourself with high-quality food, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and lots of water significantly increases energy levels.

Meaning you can work longer, faster, and be more efficient in everything that you do.

On the flip side, excessive fat, sugar or processed food has the opposite effect. You feel lethargic, irritable, and often experience brain fog.

A disastrous recipe for harnessing creativity or enhanced mental focus.

(to be continued)

Open your FREE Elisi account today to get started.

Personal Time-management System 5: Improving Focus and Concentration (1/3)

By Ryan Douglas

In our last post, we talked about how to make a weekly plan to accomplish your goals. And while planning is an important part of the process, you won’t accomplish much without execution. This is where many of us get stuck.

When it comes time to do the work, we can’t concentrate or stay focused. We often let our minds wander or allow distractions to interrupt our flow. Instead of feeling good about what we’ve accomplished for the day, the mood is just the opposite. Guilt and anxiety over another squandered opportunity.

It’s naive to think that we can remain productive for hours on end without a break. Just like it’s silly to believe we can eliminate every distraction. However, using strategies to enhance our focus and concentration we can strengthen our mental muscle.

Focusing Techniques

A big part of improving mental focus is having the right systems in place. Ones that make it easy to generate results without relying solely on willpower. Trial and error will identify the ones that work best for you and your environment. However, here are three proven techniques to get you started.

1. Pomodoro Timers

A popular focus method developed in the 1980s. The idea behind this framework is brilliantly simple – working in short, focused bursts to increase productivity without losing focus.

You begin by setting a goal. Whether it be a single task or smaller chunks of a larger one. You then set the timer – normally for about 25 minutes. Once the clock starts, you work on that single task and nothing else.

The key being to avoid interruptions at all costs. You don’t surf the web, make phone calls, or do anything else off-task.

Once time is up, you take a short break – usually around 5 minutes. During the break, you’re free to stretch, meditate, take a walk, or whatever else you might like. So long as it’s unrelated to your project.

Afterward, you repeat the process three more times (for a total of (4) Pomodoro rounds). Following the 4th session, you take a longer break of about 15-30 minutes.

The idea is to let your brain cool off and allow your subconscious to work on other ideas before starting again.

One of the main benefits received is seeing where your focus lies. Each Pomodoro becomes a task in your daily activity log – making it easy to identify where you spend your time and on what activities.

You also learn to ignore interruptions and stay focused on the task at hand.

Not to mention developing better time estimates for similar projects. By tallying related pomodoros, you see the total time required for a specific task’s completion, which serves as a baseline estimate for future projects.

2. Scheduling Block Time for Focused Work

Many say the hardest part of achieving a high level of focus/concentration is finding the time to do it. That’s why scheduling specific times for focused work is so important.

Otherwise, the goals you want to accomplish get eaten up by your day.

Focused work blocks is a central theme in the popular book Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. These two productivity experts say it’s important to create “blocks” of time designed for working on your top goals and priorities.

And just like with a doctor’s appointment, workplace meeting, or family gathering you schedule these activities on your calendar. Most importantly, you don’t abandon them when other issues crop up.

Knapp and Zeratsky recommend 90-minute blocks of focused work in their book. They say this is just the right amount of time to get into the “zone”, accomplish something meaningful, and step away before losing focus.

That and 90-minutes is all most of us can set aside before life gets in the way.

The specific time of day for your blocks doesn’t matter. Early morning or late evening are the norms but whatever works for you is fine. The authors say by consistently stringing these mini-sessions together, you will make progress towards your goals.

The Elisi app is a great way to schedule your productivity sessions. Using the built-in calendar, you can easily block out periods of time for your focused work. Combined with our habit tracking tool, you always know how much progress you’ve made toward the finish line.

(to be continued)

Open your FREE Elisi account today to get started.

Without Driving Yourself Crazy, 5 Easy Ways to Be More Productive

By Elisi Studio

Everyone wants to be more productive, but without having to think about or stress over it too much. Fortunately, there are simple ways to accomplish this goal without giving up everything that you enjoy. Because increased productivity often means doing less instead of more. Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. Focus On A Single Task To Improve Productivity

We all have days that feel like a blur – running here and there checking items off our to-do list. Completing errands and whittling away at our tasks should result in satisfaction. Yet, when looking back on the day’s activities, it can be difficult to figure out what we’ve accomplished.

A lot of people think that being busy equates to higher levels of productivity. However, that’s simply not true.Research shows that multitasking decreases the effectiveness of our work.

The human brain can only focus on one thing at a time.

Multiple interests competing for attention can overload our mental circuits and reduce their capacity. Not to mention the time required for our brains to switch gears from one task to the next. 

Simplifying the process is a much better approach to productivity. Because when you focus on one task at a time, you’re able to devote your full attention and mental bandwidth to it. Creativity flourishes and you’re able to work faster, smarter, and produce better results in the long run.

Apps like Elisi can help. Our intuitive interface makes focusing on a single task at a time easy and prevents you from getting overwhelmed. Displaying just the right amount of detail for each entry keeps you motivated and on track.

2. Turn Off Notifications and Remove Social Media Apps

If you’re having heart palpitations after reading this, rest assured you’re not alone.

Addictions to phones and social media is a real issue nowadays. Although mobile devices are meant to make us more productive, they often create the opposite effect.

Yet, it’s nearly impossible to resist their physiological temptation.

Science shows that responding to alerts and notifications on our phones releases dopamine. A powerful brain chemical that controls behavior and “rewards” us for taking beneficial action. Dopamine also strengthens neural pathways and encourages us to repeat these activities in the future.

Checking for updates creates a kind of Pavlovian effect where our brains are conditioned to respond to this stimulus. Even worse, most social media apps provide never-ending sources of content. They create an “infinity pool” of distraction with no clear end or stopping point in sight.

The exact opposite of what you need to be productive.

But no worries – you don’t have to become a recluse or swear off technology to get more done. You just need to be intentional with how you interact with your device and apps in general. For example:

Disabling alerts and notifications – can reduce the temptation to frivolously check email or social media. If you aren’t facing the barrage of dings and vibrations to start with, you’re less likely to think about them.

This also minimizes the lost productivity (mentioned earlier) when switching between tasks.

Removing social apps – frees you from the anxiety of wondering what you’re missing out on. If you don’t have these apps installed, you can’t access them any time of day. Many who’ve taken a break from social media report it can be liberating.

No one is saying you can’t use these apps – just set rules around how you do so.

Like scheduling specific times of day to go online and holding yourself accountable to these limits. Or rewarding yourself with 10 – 15 minutes of interaction for every 45 minutes of productivity.

Also, consider saving your interactions for when you’re near a desktop computer vs your mobile phone. You’ll still know what’s going on, but without having the urge to check again every 5 minutes.

3. Scheduling In Downtime Increases Productivity

For many of us, our natural tendency during breaks is to reach for our phones or devices. We check email or catch up on social media posts from friends. Because we live in an “always-on” society, if we’re not connected it feels like getting left behind.

Although briefly satisfying, constant stimulus hurts long-term productivity. 

Productivity expert and author Chris Bailey says our minds alternate between two main states –hyperfocus and scatterfocus. And depending on which mode they’re in, they function in completely different ways.

In hyperfocus mode, our brains work hard to accomplish the tasks we want to achieve. Think of this period as the time where physical or mental labor is required to complete an assignment.

Scatterfocus is the exact opposite. Here we brainstorm and create a roadmap of how we’ll get from point A to point B. Scatterfocus is about seeing the big picture and analyzing where we can make the greatest impact.

Not surprisingly, the two form a mutually beneficial relationship. You can’t figure out what needs to be done without contemplating the possibilities. And you’ll never get there without doing the work.

Our subconscious does some of its best work when we are idle. Including solving complex problems, pondering lingering issues, and coming up with new ideas.

If you’re stuck in hyperfocus mode, you don’t have time to concentrate on long-term growth.

Instead of checking email or Facebook at lunch, let your mind wander or try and relax. Take a quick walk outside, get some sun, and enjoy nature. Spend a few minutes relaxing or meditating. Or sit quietly and think (allowing yourself to daydream).

Giving your mind some space may be the most productive thing you’ll ever do.  

If you feel guilty about taking breaks, it’s probably because you don’t think you can. Next time try giving yourself permission beforehand. When you schedule downtime alongside your productive efforts, it becomes easier to relax and enjoy the moment.

Otherwise, you’ll worry the entire time and defeat the whole point of the process.

4. Keep a “Distraction” Book With You

When you’re concentrating, one of the easiest ways to lose focus is by latching on to whatever thought pops into your brain. Yet, in a highly-connected world, it’s incredibly easy to do.

Open a new browser tab – and next thing you know – you’ve wasted an hour surfing the web with nothing to show for it.

This issue stems from the fact that we believe we’ll forget or miss something if we don’t act immediately. We abandon whatever we’re doing to investigate our fleeting impulses before they pass us by. And go completely off-track in the process.

A much better (and easier) approach is to keep a “distraction” notebook with you.

If you’re working on a task – and notice your mind wandering – stop immediately and write your thoughts down in the notepad. Then continue on with your mission. Once you reach a legitimate stopping point in your work, or the time comes for a break, use the opportunity to revisit the items in your notebook.

Working this way offers several advantages:

Frees mental space in your brain – leaving a task unfinished creates clutter in our minds and makes it harder to relax. Mental distraction creates a nagging sensation that’s hard to get rid of. Writing down your ideas gives your brain permission to release these thoughts.

Removes guilt – associated with relaxing when you think you should be working. Your brain feels satisfied in knowing you’ll address the task later which allows you to close the thought loop.

Increases productivity – offloading your thoughts (without killing your momentum) keeps you on track and moving forward. A distraction book prevents you from veering off course and wasting precious time.

Although you can use an app to capture your ideas, stick with traditional paper and pen if possible. Simply because anytime you go “electronic” you run the risk of temptation from other programs that may slow you down.

5. Stop Beating Yourself Up Over Productivity

It sounds cliché, but improving productivity is more of a journey than a destination. Anyone who says they have it all figured out is either lying or delusional. There’s no one perfect formula that works every time for everybody.

No matter how hard you try, eventually you’re going to slip up.

When it happens, don’t beat yourself up. Because the more you do the less likely you’ll be able to recover from it. Acknowledging that we’re human (and people make mistakes) is a fundamental element of improving productivity. 

Take a breath, regroup, and start over again.

Evaluate and learn from your mistake – rather than dwelling on it. If you stumble early in your journey, set smaller, more achievable goals to help build your confidence. As your productivity muscles grow, you’ll feel more comfortable taking on larger tasks.

You’ll also expand your mindset and uncover what you’re truly capable of.

Conclusion

In the end, productivity isn’t about being perfect. It’s about using the time and resources you have wisely toaccomplish goals and increase your happiness.

One of the keys to achieving more is to do less. Focus on a single task at a time, remove all possible distractions, and schedule in essential downtime. You’ll not only get more accomplished faster, but likely have better results to show for your efforts.

And isn’t that what being productive is all about?

Looking for a more human way to accomplish your goals?

Sign up for your FREE Elisi account and get started today.

Hard or Easy: Which Task Should You Tackle First?

By Ryan Douglas

We’ve been told the same productivity advice for years – work on the hardest tasks first to achieve your goals. While this approach is fine for some people, others need a small warm-up before tackling their biggest challenges. Today’s article looks at the unexpected benefits of starting small and being productive.  

Smaller Commitments Improve Your Odds

Let’s face it – taking on a big task sometimes feels overwhelming. Not just physically, but mentally as well. Thinking about the entirety of a big decision can make your heart race and mind begin drifting into the unknown.

“Where do I start?”

“How do I know if I’m doing it right?”

“What if I screw up?!”

These types of thoughts are debilitating and serve no purpose in reaching your goal. Just the opposite. Feelings of self-doubt are often enough to make you want to quit before you’ve even begun.

A perfect illustration of how the biggest challenge in getting started – is getting started.

Yet, once you begin, finishing a task is like most any other goal in life. Once in motion, the finish line gets clearer. Momentum becomes the sustaining force that keeps you moving forward. And the only way to get it is by taking action.

So how do we overcome the anxiety of walking that first step? Simple – start small.

Choose an item that you can knock out quickly (with little effort) to gain some traction. An easy win to make progress and help you get “in the groove.” If you were exercising, this would be your warm-up. Getting your muscles loose and prepared for the heavy lifting that’s yet to come.

Keeping in mind that if you hurt yourself working out, your gains come to a halt. Bruising your confidence means the same thing in regard to productivity.

Traditional advice says to “go big” and take on the largest challenge of the day first.  Yet, most of us have limited willpower and tend to get overwhelmed quickly. Which means we stop whatever we’re doing and feel worse afterward (because nothing was accomplished).

Starting small lowers the threshold for taking action and requires less effort to get moving. Which makes whatever you’re trying to accomplish more likely to happen.

And the trend of small wins is continuing to gain acceptance. Even productivity expert and best-selling author Michael Hyatt says easier tasks should come first. Citing many of the same reasons discussed in this article.

That’s what makes apps like Elisi so valuable. Our weekly based to-do list helps you achieve higher productivity while still maintaining balance. The intuitive interface allows you to track important practices (like meditation, exercise, and water intake), along with project information and personal notes.

Best of all, tasks are displayed in a way that encourages you to take action (rather than punishing you for not). Small steps add up – and Elisi helps you take more of them.

However, if you want to go big sometimes that’s okay too. There’s no rule saying you have to choose one or the other. Both strategies are useful depending on your confidence, energy level, and current state of mind.

Worst case scenario, if you go big and things don’t work out, you can always scale back and try again. Just don’t butt your head into the wall every time or you’ll run out of motivation.

Easier Tasks Produce Emotional Wins

Starting small isn’t just good for productivity, it nourishes your body and mind as well. Completing a handful of minor tasks gives you the emotional “lift” necessary to take on bigger challenges. A compounding effect which continues to feed itself over time.

And let’s not forget the incredible benefits to your brain also.

Research has shown that accomplishing a goal releases dopamine. A powerful neurotransmitter that controls feelings of pleasure, reward, and emotional satisfaction. All of which are key elements of productivity.  

Increased dopamine improves focus, memory power, and elevates your mood.  By improving focus, you’re able to concentrate longer and harder on the task at hand. Strengthening memory power helps you retain what you’ve learned and recall information faster when you need it. Elevating your mood provides the motivation to get started and the drive needed to keep going.

Working on tough projects first can produce the opposite – generating stress while leaving you physically and mentally drained. Causing you to lose motivation and have nothing left for other tasks.

Studies have shown that chronic stress suppresses dopamine production and causes an array of harmful side effects. Including anxiety, depression, and lack of energy.

With dopamine, feeling better about completing tasks isn’t just in your head – it’s an actual physical response. A compelling argument for why small wins can lead to big victories.

Increased Confidence Equals Higher Productivity

One of the best parts of knocking smaller to-do items off your list first is how it increases overall confidence. With each task completed, you prove to yourself (and others) that making progress and achieving your goals is possible.

Which, in turn, leads to taking on bigger challenges that may have previously seemed impossible. Confidence becomes the lubrication that keeps the wheels of productivity moving. Helping you to become bolder and more efficient in everything that you do.

Projects that were once scary don’t seem so intimidating afterward.

With larger projects, the opposite is often true. Stalling or failing to make progress erodes confidence and makes you shy away from future challenges. You doubt your ability to produce results and pull back because of it.

And if you’ve come up short too many times in a row, you might give up entirely.

Conclusion

When it comes to productivity, there’s no right or wrong way to go about it. As long as you are continually moving toward your goals. While some choose to tackle the entire mountain first, others feel more comfortable starting out with a short hike.

And that’s okay.   

Because getting a series of small wins can be just as powerful as overcoming a major obstacle. As long as you keep your eyes on the prize, you can increase focus, motivation, and confidence as you work toward your goals.

All without the stress of taking on too much at once, or the shame of not finishing it afterward. Now that’s something to get excited about.

Looking for a more human way to accomplish your goals?

Sign up for your FREE Elisi account and get started today.

Elisi Studio