We all know at least one person in our lives who seems to have 30 hours a day instead of the 24 that the rest of us have. They’re the ones that just seem to get an almost inhuman amount of things done come rain or shine, in good times and in bad times. They’re also the ones who both inspire us and make us feel deeply unproductive, whether or not they intend to.
Consequently, we search high and low for their secrets: is it a specifically calibrated morning routine? Is it stellar time management skills? Is it an endless and self-replenishing supply of self-motivation? Chasing after straws, though, often gets us nowhere. We admire the super-productive and wish we could be like them, without making any changes in our own lives towards that end.
Of course, changing your daily habits is easier said than done, but no one’s asking you to start running before you can even stand on your own two feet here. As Bob Marley once said, “If you don’t start somewhere, you’ll go nowhere.” Start small, but start now: here are two small but game-changing habits that’ll supercharge your productivity.
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Mindfulness has become such a mainstay in international self-help circuits in the past few years that it’s almost gotten a bad rep for itself. Despite its associations with meticulously curated and staged “good vibes only” lifestyles and Instagram feeds (#selfcare), science has shown that there are tangible positive benefits of keeping a daily mindfulness practice, including its effect on productivity.
What most people don’t realise about being productive is that it’s not actually about getting things done; it’s about prioritising and systematically approaching all your tasks and responsibilities, both at work and in life. This, however, requires sharpness of mind, which is exactly what a consistent mindfulness practice gives you.
In fact, studies have shown that mindfulness can:
There’s no need to start with hour-long sessions every day, either: anecdotal evidence shows that spending just 10 minutes at the start and end of each day can make a huge difference to your productivity, stress levels, and performance levels in general. The catch, though, is consistency, without which you won’t see the aforementioned effects.
Ideally, we’d all get up at 5AM every day, get a morning workout done, do some light reading, and cook a good (non-rushed) breakfast–all while the rest of the world is still in bed. Of course, it takes a lot of discipline and willpower to drag yourself out of bed at that hour (and to make sure that you sleep earlier every night in the first place.)
Just because you can’t accomplish the ideal scenario for yourself (yet), though, doesn’t mean you can’t make smaller steps towards that reality. Getting up just 10-15 minutes earlier, for example, can already make a big difference, especially when you use it to “check in” with yourself before your day starts in proper.
The key to making sustained, gradual progress towards your goals day in and day out, is to hold yourself accountable for it. Spending a few minutes in the morning to evaluate yourself in this regard is critical. It’s not just about putting together a prioritised to-do list, though. It’s about exercising enough emotional self-awareness to be honest with yourself about how your daily work is feeding back into to your short term goals and long term goals.
After all, just getting a lot of things done doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re making progress, if none of those things are that important to you and your goals at the end of the day.