Special Report

The Key to Becoming More Productive Is This

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6. Take credit for what you did well

Instead of blaming yourself for everything, it’s more productive to take stock of what you can do better, Oliveri said. But don’t stop there. “We must also notice factors outside our control that contributed to missing a goal, and also notice and credit ourselves for all that we did do well.” It’s important to find things that you are proud of, and cultivate the awareness that you are capable of influencing positive outcomes in your own life, she noted.

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7. Reward yourself for a job well-done

Instead of doing a million things at a time — which is just avoiding the one big task you need to focus on — take one activity until its completion and then reward yourself for a job well done, Wood said. Multitasking rarely makes you feel better because it seems like you are always working and nothing gets done, which is discouraging and counter-productive.

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8. Pick up the phone

Group emails are very common. You get inundated with messages. So now you have to step away from working on your task to answer emails. This is a huge distraction. “I think that four or more emails in short succession is a good clue to pick up the phone!” Oliveri said. Have a conversation about the matter at hand, solve it quickly, and move on. The reward can be 10 minutes of social media, walking, having a coffee break — anything not very time-consuming that pleases you.

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9. Keep a time diary

This is a good strategy to identify bad habits that are distracting you, according to Wood. “Track everything you do on [a] daily basis for two weeks. This includes when and how much time you spend talking on the phone, having lunch, and watching videos on YouTube. It will be very clear after those two weeks what you actually do that sets you back and kills your productivity.

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10. Identify negative thought patterns

It sounds easier said than done, but there are a few indicators that you are engaging in unhelpful thought patterns that are not doing you any favors and are only distracting you. These include putting yourself down, blaming yourself entirely, and ruminating on mistakes or regrets, Oliveri said.

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