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4 Easy Ways to Be More Productive

1) Use Lists Consistently

Ever feel like you have a hundred things to do, and even though you’ve been running around all day, somehow none of them got done?

Our brains simply aren’t capable of juggling the amount of
information necessary to stay organized.
Phone numbers, for example, are seven digits largely because we can only retain seven pieces of information at one time. Even if you ‘only’ accomplish four tasks per day, you’ll notice results within a month of consistent use of lists.

If you’re only going to take one thing away from this article, it should be this. Making an inventory of things you’d like to accomplish each day is, by far, the best way to be more productive.

2) Do Little Things First

Once you have your list of things you’d like to accomplish, prioritize them based on how long you think they’ll take to get done.

To be more productive, you have to leverage the built-in features of your brain. Mainly that it wants to do more of what feels good, and less of what feels bad.
If you try to tackle the biggest thing first and it takes you longer than expected, you get bogged down and lose momentum. You feel drained and demoralized.

When you start your day by accomplishing something, even if it only takes a few minutes to do, you immediately receive a spike of positive emotion. Your brain essentially goes “Hey! That feels good, I want more of that!”

3) Check Things Off As You Accomplish Them

Think about the most addictive mobile games out there, the ones with millions and millions of downloads – ever wondered why they’re so successful?

Well, besides being fun, they leverage certain psychological tricks.

Today I’m going to expose one, and tell you how to use it to your advantage.
The biggest is called the goal gradient effect. Sounds fascinating, I know. Basically, it’s a phenomenon where people get more and more motivated as they get closer to accomplishing something.

This is why you’ll constantly be “leveling up”, receiving points, unlocking new items and features, and see meters and gauges showing you how close you are to the next reward. Even though there are always more things to do, it tricks your mind into thinking “Almost done! Just a few more games!”

Checking things off your list has the same effect. As you get closer to completing your list for the day, your motivation grows, and you in turn become more productive.

4) Manage Your Expectations

The opposite of the goal gradient effect is… the reverse goal gradient effect. Scientists are an exciting, creative bunch aren’t we?

Just like you get more motivated the closer you get to achieving something, you tend to procrastinate when faced with a goal that seems distant and far from completion.

Whenever you think “I should do X” and feel resistance (like excuses popping into your head), revisit that goal and lower your expectations.

If you feel too lazy to go to the gym, reduce your expectations to putting your
shoes on and standing by the door with your gym bag.
Usually, momentum kicks in and you drag your sorry ass to the gym. Everyone knows once you get to the gym and work out you’re glad you did, and the same holds true for achieving your goals.

What if you do the new, reduced goal and still don’t feel like doing it? Well you completed your goal, so give yourself a break and relax.

Knowing that you don’t have to do the whole thing relieves the pressure holding most people back, and even if momentum only carries you through your task 8 times out of 10, you’ll still end up being more productive in the long run.

By October 14, 2014 February 18th, 2022 Blog, Psychology & Relationships