The difference between enjoying or loathing your daily work is in preparation. There are four actions to take before starting your tasks to make productivity a breeze. If you don't have these four in order, you may still get work done, but you won't enjoy it.
1. Create a clean environment to clear your mind
A clean workspace is essential. If there is physical clutter present, I find the clutter climbs into my mind as well. There is nothing more empowering than a clean area and nothing as disempowering as a messy area.
I first realized this on a day which started slowly. I decided to clean my room first, even though I felt like doing nothing. I was surprised to find that the cleaner my room became, the better I felt about completing the tasks to come.
I went on to have a great day of smooth productivity. I had the kind of creative ideas that only happen with a clear mind. Since then, I have always started with optimizing my environment for the best results. Your immediate environment has a bigger-than-you-realize impact on your mindset.
2. Remove productivity guilt to maximize your positive energy
Productivity guilt hits me when I wake up anytime after 10 AM, without exception. It's the guilt you feel when you know you haven't been productive with your time.
It's ironic, but guilt towards a problem almost always makes the problem worse. If you struggle with addiction and feel guilty about it, the guilt will drive you further into addiction. If you feel guilty about not exercising, you'll exercise even less. Guilt creates negative thoughts, which stifles creativity and productivity.
But when you're guilt-free, you can employ a positive, winning attitude and seize the day. I get up early to avoid productivity guilt. This technique leverages the fact that every day feels like a new opportunity. Forget your previous productivity blunders and you'll enjoy your work more.
3. Clarify your objective(s) to minimize frustrating "churn"
When you switch from one task to another, there is "churn" involved. Churn is the time and energy it takes to switch focus from one task to another. Having too many tasks is a problem that divides your focus in too many directions. The ideal setup for a productive day is few tasks and infrequent switching. This creates minimal churn.
Making a to-do list is a popular way to establish clear objectives for the day, and you can design it for as little churn as possible by grouping together similar tasks. For example, respond to emails and organize your computer back-to-back because they're both done on your computer.
Whether you have one big task for the day or several, it's important to define exactly what you want to do today. Why you're doing the tasks is next…
4. Focus on the benefits of completing your work to stay motivated
What is driving you to be productive? Is it a paycheck, an exciting project, or a deadline? Whatever it is, you need an impetus to drive you to make the most of your time. This is what you'll think of when your spirits are low.
It isn't difficult to find this motivation, but you have to make a mental effort to identity the benefits of working over goofing around. The simple-minded think work is unenjoyable compared to doing something more fun, but they aren't considering the long term consequences of their decisions. Do a quick work-benefit rundown (examples below) to find the motivation to be productive today.
- A successful online project can produce income for you to travel to Hawaii with. Picture yourself in Hawaii as you code your website.
- Getting rid of half your clothes makes picking out an outfit more enjoyable and easier because you like all of your clothes instead of half of them.
- Doing your taxes now may give you a nice tax refund sooner and it will make life easier in mid-April.
Put it all together…
If you put it all four together, your work area will be pristine and optimized for efficiency, you'll be lightweight without any guilt of prior laziness or failures, you'll know exactly what to do with your day, and you'll have an exciting list of benefits to keep you motivated.
With a clear mind, no guilt, defined objectives, and ample motivation, productivity is a joy.