Most people struggle with productivity. We are surrounded by numerous distractions, from social media, phone calls and texts, to e-mails and advertising messages. We desperately try to accomplish more by cramming in as much as we can to our already overflowing schedule. Yet, despite our efforts, we often end up accomplishing less in more time. In this article, I will share with you some practical insights to help you overcome constant busyness and increase your productivity.
Brian Tracey, the well-known motivational speaker, encourages people to start their day with the most challenging task (which is a metaphor for the frog concept). For some people, the frog might be an assignment to complete, a thorough clean out of e-mails, a challenging phone call or writing the first few pages of a new novel.
According to Tracey, when you tackle the scariest and biggest item on your to–do list, you feel more motivated to move on to other tasks. Your body will be filled with the neurotransmitter called dopamine which is a reward for having completed your task. You will feel the pleasure of checking things off your list and making progress.
I have been experimenting with this principle for the last couple of months now and can highly recommend it. Tracey is right. You do experience a burst of energy, momentum and confidence once you have fought off your daily ‘frog’.
You may have heard of the Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule as it is often referred to. Pareto, an Italian economist of the 19th century, studied unequal distribution and discovered the imbalance of inputs and outputs. His research led to noticing that approximately 80% of results come from 20% of actions.
A friend called Mark put this principle to test and found that 20% of his study time contributed to 80% of his academic success. Although Mark does not socialise much, he admitted that 80% of his time is spent with the same 20% of friends and family. When I studied business studies at university, I found that understanding the key 20% of the study materials contributed to 80% of my exam success. Ask yourself: what is the 20% of tasks that truly matter which could lead to 80% of success?
Technology is both a curse and a blessing. It is making us more fragmented than ever before. People feel scattered, unfocused, distracted and emotionally drained as a result of the numerous forms of distractions coming from the online world. Apps, social media, new connections, likes, and comments are trying to sneak a bit of our attention day and night. If you would like to become more successful in your academic studies, try eliminating distractions. Refuse to read e-mails, look at social media, check the post, flick through the news or return texts. For best results, set out one or two hours of focused study time and concentrate single-mindedly on the task at hand. You will accomplish more; it is guaranteed.
Henrietta Nagy is a seasoned portfolio worker with over 10 years’ experience in the UK education sector. Henrietta writes educational content, designs academic courses, delivers university lecturers, mentors entrepreneurs, and provides career development coaching. With 9 years of higher education studies internationally (including an MBA), she has worked with CEOs, academics, scholars, managers, women entrepreneurs, academic administrators, and other consultants.