Even before the pandemic, achieving peak productivity was challenging for most of us. Life felt like a constant tug of war between productivity and its much stronger opponent, procrastination 🤥 When you find yourself procrastinating, there are also overwhelming feelings of guilt, regret and anxiety. When you’re not procrastinating, it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to focus on your hobbies.
Our Experience Associate, Maaz Zafar, recently hosted a webinar with special guest Zarak Yusufzai, who works in finance and runs his own coffee shop. Maaz and Zarak discussed time management strategies and the modern workforce’s misconceptions about productivity. Productivity is widely perceived as the act of constantly staying busy, when in fact, it’s the opposite. In 2021, being productive should mean successfully maintaining a solid work-life balance ⚖️
Here’s a breakdown of some of our favorite tips from the webinar:
We know what you’re thinking. Sometimes the idea of a routine can be stressful on its own. However, there are a lot of ways to approach structuring your day. It all starts with setting an intention for yourself – wake up with an open mind, and be assured that you will achieve whatever you set out to do. You could also have one fixed task you perform every morning, such as making yourself breakfast or a to do list. It adds rhythm to your schedule, and lessens stress because you know what to expect. During our webinar, Maaz added that you don’t always need to set firm goals or endpoints to feel like you have a routine. You just need to be sincere about your work, and get to doing things without obsessing over what happens before or after. That’s a routine on its own!
Doing something you like, be it the first thing in the morning or incrementally during the day, helps you look forward to using your time. For example, our guest Zarak mentioned he loves brewing himself a cup of coffee after he wakes up. Productivity also entails giving a reasonable amount of time to your passions; when you’re happier, you’re probably bound to do better at getting things done!
If you’ve got a long list of tasks that need to be completed within a week, or even within a couple of hours, it helps to organize them. Zarak prefers prioritizing his tasks in order of importance. In doing this, he also notes that some tasks may not be as urgent, and don’t need to be completed on the same day. There are a lot of prioritization techniques out there (easy to difficult, more time to less time). Some prefer ordering their work in order of enjoyment. You can finish things you like doing to build momentum, and get to the boring stuff later. Choose a technique that works for you!
Maaz and Zarak shared a bunch of pre-established techniques, self-help books and other hacks in the webinar. Zarak, for example, loves the Pomodoro Technique, which is a time management system that breaks up the workday into short bursts of time. Maaz and Zarak also suggested time management apps and self-help books, such as Atomic Habits by James Clear. There are so many resources out there on the internet. Find one that speaks to you, and stick to it!
Pressuring yourself isn’t always the most productive thing. If you miss out on a deadline or don’t have it in you to power through your ‘To Do’ list in a single sitting, remember to take it easy. Being gentle with yourself is the ultimate guide to productivity. Forgive yourself for taking breaks, and for being exhausted or overworked. It’s human. We are not robots working against time. In fact, we should try to work with time to the best of our ability.
What’s life without pauses that allow us to stay present, reflect, and be appreciative about the little things? Maaz recounted the joy of being able to step away from work to spend time with his family and friends, as well as watching shows during downtime. “Me” time should be a huge part of everyone’s life because recharging your social and emotional batteries happens in so many ways other than sleeping. Self-care is a huge part of getting into the right mindset – for work and otherwise.
There’s no reason why you can’t make your 24 hours of the day more fulfilling. We don’t mean spending your whole day working, but rather, making cuts where necessary to speed through tasks that would otherwise take much longer to finish. Ultimately, productivity is for having enough hours left in the day to relax and be yourself.
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