Who doesn’t want to get more done throughout the day? It’s something that everyone aspires to do, but let’s face it — it takes work and effort. Ugh. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could drag your feet a bit and still be productive?
Well guess what? You can. And here’s how:
1. Cut down on decisions.
We often think the more choices the better — but that can be just too overwhelming. The lazy way out is to give yourself fewer options. Decision fatigue is a real issue and it makes you less likely to make good choices. President Obama revealed that he only wears suits in two colors: black and gray. That’s because he wants to cut down on decision making and make his mornings easier. Same goes for Mark Zuckerberg with his hoodies and Steve Jobs and his famous black turtlenecks.
This concept can be applied to more than just clothing. You can do the exact same thing by picking the same foods for breakfast every morning and getting out the door more quickly. Have go-to meeting spots picked in advance so you can concentrate on the content and not the logistics.
2. Automate your shopping.
One of the most time consuming tasks is shopping for food and clothes. If you automate these to-dos you can sit at home and relax. Amazon.com and Soap.com have subscription packages, which allow you to ship frequently purchased items automatically. Use a service like StitchFix.com to do all your clothing shopping for you. Just give them your sizes and information about your style and favorite colors and let them do the rest. A stylist will hand select items just for you and ship them to your front door.
Of course, if you can't afford to do this or if it seems to complicate your life further for whatever reason, set aside very discrete windows of time to get your shopping done. A diffuse approach to these sorts of errands will make you feel more scattered.
3. Outsource your life.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. I’m a big fan of outsourcing because it frees me up to do the things that will either make me money or bring me joy. All those tasks you’ve been dreading like making appointments, arranging travel or cleaning out your closet can be outsourced. Using virtual assistant services like Fancy Hands gets other people to make decisions for you like finding a restaurant or booking a flight.
4. Get smarter while you schlep.
One of my favorite activities is listening to podcasts to learn something while I commute. The way I see it: this is wasted time that I could be doing something really productive. So while I sit on the subway I learn about the best ways to become a successful entrepreneur (Glambition Radio) how to be happier (Happier with Gretchen Rubin) or learn stuff about the Internet I never knew (Reply All).
5. Pet a puppy.
Yep playing with a furry friend will actually help you get more done. A study out of Virginia Commonwealth University found people who brought their pets to work are much less stressed. Less stress leads to lower blood pressure, which means you’ll probably take fewer sick days and work more often. Plus our feel-good endorphins skyrocket when we are around pets and that’s a great motivator.
There you have it. So much of productivity is about how we approach the often daunting project of "getting things done." And actually, much of the productivity equation relies on what we do in the time when we're not actually working: in other words, it's about making the space and time, and preserving our energy in effective ways. With a few behavioral and attitude changes, you can ramp up your productivity — while still remaining pretty chill, and having fun, in the process.
You can get a free chapter of my book, Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed here.