In mathematics, no matter how big is the problem if you get the first equation right everything else flows. It’s often the simplest habits that we practice while performing our day to day routine that affects our performance vastly in the bigger picture.
We often try to fix things when we feel it’s a problem, these problems often get identified while doing something extremely important (a task with high stakes).Example: A few months back I realized that I have a problem concentrating on long work meetings, where there is too much information thrown at me, where my to-do list keeps getting longer and longer with every sentence. And at this point, my attention starts deviating from what’s being discussed currently in the meeting to my growing “to-do list”. The problem here was simple; I couldn’t focus on the present task.
Fixing this problem in a high stake situation like a work meeting seemed like an impossible task but then I realized if ‘not being attentive to the present’ was the problem, I must have not been attentive while performing the smaller tasks as well. And I did just that, I realized I used to think about a lot of other stuff while performing simple day to day tasks like brushing my teeth. I started focusing on the present with these simple tasks, like while brushing my teeth my focus was only on brushing my teeth, not only did this improve my dental health, it did something much greater for me, it built the habit of being present and focusing on the current task. In no time I was doing everything with a complete presence of mind; yes even the most important long and tiring work meetings.
There are a whole lot of books and articles on “Improving work efficiency” but most of them will tell us “what to do” and not the “how to do”. They are telling us the final answer to the mathematical problem but not the equation that we need to use to solve the problem. The “how” needs to be derived by diving deeper into the smaller day to day habits.
Below are the 12 simple hacks to improve your work efficiency (& life in general):
- Commitment is the key: Whatever you say you are going to do, do it. Keep your word (even to yourself, not just to others). Be accountable!
- Don’t take things personally: Everyone is living their own reality, most of the time what people do or say has nothing to do with us. Nip the unnecessary drama in the bud.
- Don’t make assumptions: Don’t assume your client’s/employees’ response or behavior. Be open to all options and possibilities.
- Always do your best: How you do one thing is how you do everything. If you get sloppy with smaller things in life, you get sloppy in other things (of utmost importance) as well.
- Pay attention to your posture: A good posture is the one where our body is expanded (not compressed). A good posture allows us to breathe fully, prevent chronic pain, think clearly and perform at our optimum. We tend to compress our bodies when we are stressed and we may be doing so subconsciously. Stress need not be something major, it might be slight irritation which might feel normal to us but which creates excess tension in our body. Like we might feel the tension in our hands or neck, the trick is to identify this immediately and stretch that area of our body and release the tension.
- Forgive yourself: It’s important to learn from our mistakes but it’s equally important to move on. Dwelling on the mistakes for too long and living in guilt will only hamper our future performance. As long as we realize our mistakes and try our best not to repeat it, that’s good enough.
- Don’t wait for motivation, get started. Motivation comes from productivity: Just start in the smallest way possible. Action leads to motivation which leads to more action, once we get into this cycle, motivation keeps flowing in automatically.
- Make fewer decisions: Don’t waste your mental energy on mundane decisions like what to eat, what to wear, etc. Plan for such things in advance for the entire week and stick to it. Save the mental energy for important tasks.
- Eat healthily: Do not indulge in junk or fast food to save time. If you look at the bigger picture, fast food is going to slow down your work efficiency. Times when having a healthy meal isn’t feasible, keep healthy snacks like dry fruits and nuts handy.
- De-clutter: De-clutter everything, your workspace, your desk, personal wardrobe, your house, and most importantly your head. The more clutter-free our life is, the more smoothly it’ll function. It’s easier to get the physical space cleared but what people struggle with is clearing out the mental space. One tried and tested method for me to de-clutter my head is doing a “Brain Dump”. A Brain Dump is basically writing down everything that’s going on in your head on a paper, highlight what’s really important and needs actions and strike out the rest (superfluous thoughts). At the end of this, you will have a clear to-do list in your hand and organized thoughts in your head.
- Give yourself something nice to look at: Aesthetically pleasing elements (like plants, cute decor elements, etc) boosts productivity.
- The power of a ‘Good Night’s Sleep’: We all know that sleep allows us to handle our emotions better, helps in thinking clearly, improves our immune system and allows our body to recover and prepare for next day’s tasks but still it’s difficult for many of us to get a good night’s sleep. Not everyone has insomnia, most of us are just addicted to our gadgets and we get them to bed and easily spend 2-3 hours on social media or on OTT platforms. Leave your phones and laptops far away from your bed, keep the temptation away and you will fall asleep in no time.