Seven Simple Techniques to Boost Productivity and Simplify your Life


Illustration courtesy of Nave

Anushka Elavia, Staff Writer

This is an opinion article piece. Anushka Elavia is a student at Mendham who writes for Global and Domestic News. All opinions expressed in the following editorial are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Patriot. 

As we welcome the new year with high spirits and our soon-to-be-unfulfilled “New Year’s Resolutions”, we often overlook the simplicity of refining our daily routines and replacing unwanted distractions with beneficial habits. Naturally, we overcomplicate everything and gravitate towards this false tendency of always wanting to do more, to create more, and to be more. We believe that in order to achieve our ideal lifestyles and reflect the online personas we idolize on our screens, that we must go “cold turkey” on ourselves and completely eliminate all the unappealing elements of our schedules. But, what if I told you that this very thought process is the same one that prevents us from achieving our potential? Wait a minute. How could being ambitious and able to take initiative possibly hinder anyone from excelling in their lives? In truth, doing less is doing more. 

Here are seven simple techniques to boost your productivity and bring simplicity to your life: 

1) Follow the two-minute rule

This rule is quite simple. If you have any pending tasks that you think require less than two minutes to complete, then do them now. This saves us time thinking about the task, planning for it, dreading it, and essentially, avoiding it altogether. The rule also entails that when you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to complete. Any habit can be scaled down into a short frame of time. “Read before bed each night” becomes “Read one page”. “Exercise for thirty minutes” becomes “Stretch your body”. “Fold the laundry” becomes “Fold one pair of pants”. The essence of this is to bring ease to your life when beginning a new habit, instead of making it challenging. Once you have started doing the right thing, then it is much simpler to continue doing it. Start small, and grow from there.  

2) Set self-imposed deadlines

How many times have you found yourself pushing off simple tasks like doing laundry, washing dishes, completing homework, and cleaning your room – all because there is no designated deadline to meet? Probably more times than you would like to admit. We need to be our own bosses and let go of our reliance on other people to control our agendas. It is time we introduce discipline into our routines and remember that doing things for ourselves should be of value and importance, not shoved to the bottom of our priority list. 

3) Follow the 80/20 rule

Surprisingly, only 20 percent of what you do each day produces 80 percent of your results. Eliminate distractions and optimize your outcomes. To apply this rule, known as the Pareto principle, you should first compose a list of ten things you spend the most time on. Circle the two that really drive your results and do more of those. Scan through the others and begin eliminating them and outsourcing what you can. Once you analyze your priorities and results, you can start shifting your focus to the right places. 

Illustration courtesy of Paldesk

4) Prioritize your tasks ahead of time

Prioritizing our tasks requires minimal time, yet produces maximal results. Each night, compose your task list for the following day and then analyze it. There are four suggested options to categorize your tasks into: do, defer, delegate, or delete. Once you have done so accordingly, structure your day around completing the most relevant tasks, taking into consideration the time of day at which you operate best, the likeliness of distractions to appear, and how you plan on effectively accomplishing the task. 

5) Learn to say “No”

Take a moment to reflect on all the times you said “Yes” to doing something simply because you thought you would be perceived as rude, selfish, or unhelpful if you decided to decline the offer. Many times, the people inviting us to things are those with whom we have solid relationships – our friends, peers, relatives, and co-workers. Therefore, it is only natural that the thought of straining the relationship outweighs the commitment of our time and energy, even if it may be overwhelming to handle. It is necessary to manage the tradeoff between yes and no, and choose to do what is most meaningful for those around us, but most importantly, ourselves. Learn how to politely and directly say “no”, and you will find that elimination is a more useful skill than optimization. 

6) Exercise

I am almost positive that you have heard of all the incredibly promising benefits of moving your body, yet still lack the motivation to physically get yourself up from your chair, into some activewear, and out of your cluttered headspace. Several individuals, myself included, convince ourselves that we do not have the time to exercise, even though we’ll subconsciously spend an hour scrolling through our phones, blankly staring at our screens, and basically, procrastinating. If we replace those unfavorable distractions with blocking out some time to go for a run, lift some weights, or even practice yoga, we are likely to find that exercise increases our energy levels, combats stress and fatigue, heightens concentration, and clears our thoughts. No need to be over-ambitious or think that you must exercise for this amount of time or with that amount of rigor. Just do something. Remember, an active body leads to an active mind. 

7) Just start

All of these techniques may be overwhelming to absorb all at once, but if there is anything you should take away from reading this, it is to start now. Don’t waste time waiting for the “perfect” moment to do something, or else you’ll find yourself trapped in an endless cycle of procrastination. Say “Bye” to laziness and “Hello” to taking initiative. Whether it may be sketching out an outline for an upcoming project or catching up on last night’s chores, we will undoubtedly feel a great sense of fulfillment through making conscious decisions that are dedicated to bettering our routines. Nike said it best, “Just Do It”. 

There you have it. Seven simple methods to amplify your productivity, all while benefiting your mental and physical health. Now, you can enter 2021 with a clear understanding of how to navigate productivity and live your simplest life.