We all want to achieve more in our limited time. But are we really taking required steps to be productive? There are so many distractions that consumes our attention and energy. We have to simplify our lives in order to focus on what is important so tha we can produce more in quantity and quality. Many of us say "I don't have time" and think the thing we need is time optimization. Indeed we need to optimize energy, not time. We have to spend our energy in the most important tasks in our life so that non important things do not get into our ways. But there are so many things and everything looks important! The Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) says "80% of your results come from only 20% of your efforts". So we have to know that 20% which is high priority.
In order to find the most important 20% of the tasks, we have to define our life and long/medium/short term objectives. Starting from the longest one, split your objectives into shorter ones like a tree structure. Many of us define such objectives at the end of each year, calling it "New Year's Resolutions!". However almost everybody forgets these objectives in as short as in 1 month. "I have a whole long year!", right? The year passes without any results. This indicates we need objectives for shorter periods. The book 12 Week Year suggests we need to have 12 weeks (1 quarter) periods to feel accountable. Since 12 weeks can be countable and plannable easily and it will pass by quickly, we would be more eager to follow our plans. If you want additional support, you can have an "Accountability Buddy" or share your objectives with your friends so that you force yourself into success.
Nowadays, we are bombarded with tons of distractions including social media and app notifications. We got the habit of redirecting our attention whenever we are bored for a second. It takes around 23 minutes to get back to the task we were on when we are distracted. To avoid this, we have to reduce any kind of distractions that are not critical. For instance, you may start by removing all the notifications on your phone / tablet / computer other than voice calls. You will see how relaxed you will feel afterwards. In order to avoid social media, you may use Freedom.to or stayfocusd which will block your access to these sites in specific periods or for a total duration.
In many cases, our e-mails are not that important to respond in minutes. A study found that people check their e-mails an average of 74 times a day, stealing several minutes from their lives. Don't start your day by checking your e-mails or reading the news. Start with the task with the highest priorty when you have a clear mind. Check your e-mails at noon break and before leaving work if possible.
If you are kind of person whose mind has a trafic of thousands ideas a day, you may find yourself researching these ideas online any time. To avoid these kind of things, use Alfredapp workflows to quickly take note of what comes to your mind so that you can look for that when you have free time. If you don't do this, you will be following Depth-first Search where you will be lost among the forest of links. If you follow Breadth-first Search method, you will take note of what comes to your mind and you will spend limited time for each of them without going deeper. You found something interesting? Take note of it as well. Everything in queue! The advantage of taking note with Alfred is that it eliminates the time spent for opening a new application for taking notes. Even seconds spent for distraction (context switch) can cause a strong loss in your focus.
Improving Your Sleep
One of the most important factors in your productivity is your sleep. Don't fall into the trap of working till morning hours and then sleeping in the daylight. Follow your biorythhm. Human body needs to sleep during night and needs to be up during daylight. Your sleep hormone melatonin is produced in the absence of light, especially between 23 - 03 at night. So try to spend these times in the sleep under total darkness. Avoid having any night lamps, street lights, lit clocks or digital screens that could interfere your melatonin production. Digital screens emit blue light which also suppresses melatonin production. You may set your phone / computer to enter night mode by reducing blue light after sunset. Also avoid caffeine or high calory foods in late hours.
Sleep happens in cycles of approximately 1.5 hours. You may have 4 cycles (6 hours) or 5 cycles (7.5 hours). If you wake up between these cycles, you will feel fine. If you wake up in the middle of a cycle, then you will feel dizzy and unproductive. To avoid this, you may use SleepCycle which records your sounds during night, tries to wake you up at the best possible moment. If you don't seem to be waking up soon, it makes naive sounds slowly to wake you up naturally.
Finally, avoid any noise as much as possible. Set your phone to enter "Do Not Disturb" mode between 22 - 09 so that no call can disturb your comfort / sleep while you are relaxing. You can set exceptions to your closest ones by saving them as Favorite in your phonebook. Even others can reach you after calling 3 times.