Work Smarter Not Harder: Unleash The Power Of Productivity
Clodagh O'Mahony·September 01, 2021
“Own the day. Don’t let the day own you.”
You’ve no doubt seen that phrase pop up on Instagram or noticed it on The Head Plan App. But consider this: How often has the day gotten away from you? How many times have you been too tired, distracted or overwhelmed to do things you set out to?
If you answered ‘regularly’ there’s no shame in that. With urgent deadlines, competing commitments, and outside demands, it can be easy to lose focus on the stuff that really matters. But don’t stress because that’s where productivity comes in.
What even is productivity?
If you flip open a dictionary, you’ll learn that productivity is a measure of efficiency and output. But in human terms, it’s much more complex than that. Productivity isn’t simply about getting more done with less time and effort, but crucially, getting the most importantstuff done, with less time and effort.
Tony Robbins sums it up. He says, “The bridge between dreams and achievement is taking massive determined action. One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.”
Basically? Productivity is concentrating your power in the direction of your priorities and goals, and guess what? You can rewire your daily habits to make productivity work for you.
What Productivity Isn’t
While we’re on the topic, productivity isn’t about being relentlessly busy or working yourself to the point of exhaustion. Quite the opposite in fact. Productivity is about setting yourself up to win and that means protecting, respecting, and conserving your energy so you can give your all to the tasks that matter most. Quite simply, it’s about working smarter not harder.
So now you know what productivity is – and crucially, what it isn’t – are you ready to unleash its power? Here’s how…
How To Amp Up Your Productivity
Plan the day
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: planning your day is one of the most life-changing things you’ll ever do. Why? Because not only does it organise all your daily goals, tasks and to-dos in one place, which can counteract overwhelm and stress, it also keeps you accountable. And accountability and productivity go hand in hand!
Consider The Head Plan Daily Goals page your productivity base camp. It’s where productive days live, allowing you to set tasks and prioritise, so you always know what you have to do and when.
Feel yourself procrastinating on some of the daily tasks you’ve set for yourself? Practice the 5-Second Rule (and no, it is not the one you use when you drop your toast on the floor).
Coined by Mel Robbins, the 5-Second Rule involves giving yourself five seconds to begin any task. If you find yourself hesitating on an activity, simply count down from five and do it before you get to zero.
Et voila – another tick on your to-do list.
Divide and conquer
It’s Monday morning and you’re staring at your to-do list not knowing where to begin or what to prioritise. Enter the Eisenhower Method. To use it, first, figure out which tasks are urgent, and which are important.
Here’s the difference: important tasks are the ones that focus on your priorities and bring you closer to your goals, while urgent tasks are activities that need to be completed ASAP and are often related to helping other people achieve their goals.
Divide your tasks into four categories by deciding whether each one is:
Important and urgent
Important but not urgent
Not important but urgent
Not important and not urgent
The trick is to prioritise the important tasks and leave a little wiggle room in your schedule for what’s urgent. If a task is not important but needs completing, consider rescheduling or delegating it if possible. If it’s not important or urgent, you can consider forgoing it completely.
Another tip? Use the Eat That Frog Method created by Brian Tracy, simply complete the most challenging task of your day first thing in the morning. This nixes procrastination in the bud and frees up your energy for all the other tasks you want to work on that day.
Nourish and drench
You are what you eat. We’ll bet you’ve heard that phrase a million and one times, but did you know your productivity is a reflection of the things you eat and drink too? Get this: Our bodies are over 70 per cent water so drinking a few extra mls with your Daily Drench throughout the day is sure to keep your energy and focus on an even level.
There are stacks of foods that are scientifically proven to boost productivity too, like salmon that elevates mental performance, berries that improve memory recall, and avocados that stimulate energy-boosting blood flow.
Even a square or two of dark chocolate has been shown to give your productivity a boost. Grab your Nourish meal plan and begin adding nutrient-packed foods throughout the day.
A pro tip? Think about when you most need an extra shot of energy in your day. It could be in the mornings when you crave something nutrient-dense to kickstart your day or after lunch when the tiredness starts to set in. Aim to up your water intake before these times and add in a healthy snack: bananas, green smoothies, nuts, and eggs are all good choices.
3pm slump? Don’t know her.
In the book Success Principles, bestselling author Jack Clanfield explains why rewarding yourself for completing tasks is so damn effective for productivity. He explains that inside each of us is three separate ego states: the parentlike ego, the adult ego and the childlike ego.
The childlike ego, as you might expect, acts much like a child does and it doesn’t matter whether you’re 23 or 93, all of us has an inner child who will happily act up and keep us from getting our work done. To keep this part of yourself in check, you need to enlist the help of your parentlike ego, the part of you that ensures you do all the sensible but kinda boring stuff, like eating your greens and meeting your deadlines.
Your parent ego needs to step in and set rewards for the childlike part of you in much the same way that you’d tell a five-year-old they can have an ice cream when they’ve finished their homework.
Jack explains, “Rewarding yourself for your successes keeps your inner child happy and compliant. It knows it can trust you to eventually deliver on your promises. If you don’t, just like a real child, it will start to sabotage your efforts,” - and derail your productivity to boot!
Science shows that the closer the reward, the harder you work, so, open The Head Plan Journal and jot down a daily productivity reward that will inspire you to finish that challenging report, complete that demanding workout and power through that tricky bout of procrastination. We promise you; it works!
It’s good to get stuff done but you don’t need to be constantly hustling and grinding to achieve your goals. Stress, overwhelm and exhaustion are not conducive to success. In fact, in a study on workplace productivity, 41 per cent of employees said stress negatively affected their output. That’s why sometimes being unproductive is the most productive thing to do.
Our advice? Carve out time in your daily schedule to relax and recharge. Taking that time out when you need it ensures you’ll be back to your most productive self faster than you can say ‘ticked off all the tasks on my to-do list’.
Need some proof? A study published in 2020 found that people who take regular naps are happier and more productive than those who don’t. Repeat after us: being busy and being productive are not the same thing.
The Power Of Productivity...
If you’ve ever heard yourself saying that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, now is the time to rewire and reset. Productivity doesn’t discriminate; everyone can be productive if they try, and with the right routine, you can end each day feeling accomplished and ever closer to your goals.
The best way to get something done is to begin now. Not tomorrow, not next week, but now, so go on and refocus your attention on the stuff that matters. You’ll thank yourself in the future.