Getting things done isn't working all day at 100 miles an hour.
Looking for ways to do less and get more done sounds a bit counterintuitive, but it actually makes a lot of sense.
And the following tips can definitely help you.
Suppose you've got a really important presentation to do.
It's the kind of task productivity expert professor Cal Newport says needs "deep work."
Deep work is your concentration sweet spot, where you can achieve most.
[Shut out the shallow.]
Smaller tasks like answering emails are "shallow work."
Try to be more conscious of what your shallow tasks are, and give yourself permission to block them out for a while so you can focus on the important tasks that require "deep work."
Lots of successful people have cut out the shallow to work more productively.
Bill Gates went to a remote cottage.
Others, like Maya Angelou, shut themselves away to write.
[Call it a day.]
For good productivity, be strict about when your working day is over, and when you get to the end of your planned work session, ease yourself into a more relaxed state and try Cal Newport's shutdown ritual.
Look through your unfinished work.
Write a short plan of how you'll tackle it tomorrow.
Then close that textbook or laptop and say something out loud like, "shutdown complete!"
It might sound silly, but it signals the end of your working thoughts for the day.
Have some fun.
Give your mind the rest it's earned.
[Find your top level goal.]
Businessman Warren Buffett's technique for getting people to focus on their most important goals was simple.
Write down in order the top 20 things you want to do in life, and then draw a line under number five.
Until you've done those first five, forget everything else.
For a more structured approach, organize your priorities by making a pyramid of goals, designed by psychologist professor Angela Duckworth.
Find the big thing that we could call your life's purpose, like inspiring others, or helping people in society.
Put that at the top.
On the next level, you'll have mid-level goals like passing an exam.
The goals below it should all feed into your top-level one.
They'll be smaller, more practical things—perhaps writing an email, or doing some research.
If they don't help with achieving your top goal, then get rid of them.
You could make a similar pyramid with a more specific task at the top—like that big presentation.
Remember all the other to-dos should feed in.
[Make your breaks smarter.]
Let's get back to the big presentation.
It'll take a few hours to get it done properly, but in order to keep those stress levels at bay, try the Pomodoro technique named after a tomato-shaped kitchen timer.
Time-management guru Francesco Cirillo says that for every 25 minutes of intense concentration, you should take five off to do nothing at all.
Tackling a big task in focused chunks with regular breaks gives the brain time to recover and keeps your productivity high.
In the five-minute breaks, don't jump on your phone!
Move around, stare out of a window.
A recent study showed that regular five-minute walk breaks improve people's mood, and even make them feel less tired and hungry at work.
And finally, if you really need to concentrate, find some pictures of kittens and puppies first.
Research in Japan suggests that looking at cute baby animals brings out the natural caregiver in us, and improves our ability to focus on the details.
Turns out productivity can be cute, too.
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