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How Slowing Down Will Boost Your Productivity

Small practices to find better balance

In a time where most of us, self-development geeks, productivity lovers, and all the likes, clearly long to share our top productivity hacks, I am going against the tide slightly.

Whilst most of the people around me are bored and very vocal about being bored, I have never been busier.

It’s a good problem to have, and part of me feels like I should be grateful — don’t get me wrong, in a way I truly am.

However, I am also painfully aware that working until 8 pm every night when I wake up at 6 am can take a toll on your mental health and overall wellbeing.

I strongly believe in the power of setting boundaries, yet that again that also may not be enough some days. I think the realisation something had to change was when I looked at yet another article about how to be more productive when working from home.

As someone who is incredibly productive and very much type-A (or at least that is what personality tests say I am), I feel like my real challenge these days is slowing down.

I have 1001 ideas flying through my head and little plans outside of choosing the next Netflix binge (anyone else finding cooking shows extremely soothing?) or moving from the desk to the sofa to the dinner table for the fifteenth time.

So here are three things you can do to embrace a more balanced approach to work.


Don’t act on everything that goes through your head

Easier said than done, I know it, kids. Yet, I’m so guilty of this it’s almost painful. I know that being aware of my relationship towards the next oh-so-genius-idea-it-is-going-to-change-the-world needed to change.

According to Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, there are two types of thought processes. There is the impulsive type of thinking that we just described, and then there is the slower, more rational process of thinking where we weigh all the options and make considered decisions.

When working from home and managing your time, utilising this slower method of thinking will lead to better decisions.

One great hack is to take 72 hours before making any critical decision. This will give you ample time to carefully mull over the various options.

Top tip: create a bran dump document or even “section” in your to-do list (or a note, whatever is easier). Let the ideas simmer and come back to them when you are ready.


Set up an EOD time

(EOD stands for the end of day, something cool kids say a lot)

Working from home can be a blessing and a curse more than I’d like to admit. Yes, it allows you to adjust your working hours, and even find the best time for yourself to work on your most important project.

Still, it can be hard for some freelancers, employers and especially business owners to create a firm boundary when it comes to ending our workday.

There is always “one more thing” that can be done on top of your to-do list. That little pesky task you kinda forgot about and it will only take “five minutes”.

Spoiler alert, it never takes only five minutes. I am a big believer in time dysmorphia and the idea that we have no idea of where our time is going these days.

Mini challenge: set an EOD time and stick to it for the next week or so. Create a mini-ritual to end your workday and see how that impacts your overall productivity.


Don’t mistake goals for tasks

I had this incredibly naive idea that launching a digital magazine was going to be one task to tick off my todo list.

Oh boy, I wish I hadn’t been that wrong about that. Launching a digital magazine is a combination of goals, objectives, strategies, priorities and overall tasks.

We all know what a goal is, yes each goal can be broken down into a series of objectives, which will be the core building blocks

The strategies are the collection of tasks that you’ll need to prioritise in order to complete your objectives (yet, it’s much more complex than you may have thought at first).

Identify the most effective tasks that will make your strategy a success in order to achieve a particular goal, then highlight the top one task you can focus on every day to get closer to that goal.

In his book Get Smart!, author Brian Tracy introduces the Law of Three. The Law of Three is one great method. The Law of Three argues that just three of your tasks will represent 90 percent of your results. The key, therefore, is to identify and focus all your work on these three things

Key question: which strategies do I need to set in place to achieve this goal? What tasks does each strategy require?


Change your perceptive towards productivity

Take it from someone who called herself a self-development guinea pig. There is an anecdote I think is very fitting when it comes to this topic.

Six wise blind men are trying to describe an elephant.

The first man touches the elephant’s ear and says that an elephant is like a thick blanket. The second touches a tusk and decides that the animal is sharp and pointy. The third touches the leg and concludes that an elephant is like a tree trunk. The fourth touches the side and believes it’s like a wall. The fifth feels the tail and imagines a rope. And the sixth man puts his hands on the elephant’s head, which reminds him of a rock.

They all have different perspectives, and though none of them is exactly wrong, each misses the full picture by focusing only on particular parts.

When it comes to productivity and being better at the WFH life, we must be able to shift our perceptive and our priorities. Being more productive is not about being more efficient, it’s about creating a better balance.

We must broaden our own perspectives if we wish to avoid the same fate.

Needing some inspiration to keep your juices going? Learn more about eight ways to boost your creativity

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