Science Suggests These 4 Productivity Tips Actually Work

Generally, when there are too many meetings, too many collaborations, and so much hustling it is easy to get overwhelmed.

Arun Kumar Mishra
Photo: Arun Kumar Mishra, Founder and Director of Chanakya IAS Academy; Source: Courtesy Photo

Business is doing great, but there is still a lot on your plate. Sound familiar?

Perhaps it’s full and you can barely keep track of everything. Generally, when there are too many meetings, too many collaborations, and so much hustling it is easy to get overwhelmed.

Being an entrepreneur myself – I understand how hectic it can get. And depending on the stage of your business, hiring a personal assistant may not be a viable solution.

Studies confirm that living in the moment does truly make people happier. And when applied to personal productivity and time management it can do wonders for your business. But being present in this very moment isn’t easy. Our minds tend to wander and distractions are around every corner.


Scientifically proven time management hacks

Controlling your mind and keeping it available for the present is one of the hardest tasks you can assign to your brain. Living in the present not only means to be aware of your surroundings, but to also analyze your priorities and act upon them.

Here are four practical and proven habits that can help you prioritize what’s important and drop or delegate everything else.


1. Keep a journal

Journaling keeps your whole day in tact and creates a habitual pattern that yields results. “Scientific evidence supports that journaling provides […] unexpected benefits. The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.”


Photo: © GaudiLab, YFS Magazine
Photo: © GaudiLab, YFS Magazine

Every day – just after waking up – grab your journal and write down how you want to spend your day. And if you also want to schedule a regular time to write down your passing thoughts – do it. Writing things down gives you a substantial way to figure out what you want out of your day and what’s actually happening in your life.


2. Create a to-do list, the right way

Make a to-do list every single day. A good time to do this is just after journaling – plan your day. But make sure your to-do list is actually one that can help you. The reality is, most people create to-do lists the wrong way. Maybe that’s why “41% of to-do tasks are never completed” and most fail.

According to author and journalist Charles Duhigg in Big Think, “The right way to write a to do list, the way that genuinely productive people at companies write to do lists is that at the top of the page they write their big ambition, their stretch goal. They write something that seems almost impossible to achieve because that reminds you all day long what you actually want to get done.”


Photo: © berc, YFS Magazine
Photo: © berc, YFS Magazine

But it doesn’t stop there. “And then underneath they write out a plan. They write a smart goal. They break that big ambition into small components.” Keep your to-do list top of mind. Prioritize those small components. Give yourself a clear picture of what has to be done and bind them with deadlines.


3. Limit and schedule distractions

Is your brain on information overload? My guess is: probably! “The sheer volume of information that we are exposed to these days can attack all of our senses. While the ‘Age of Information’ may have made us better connected and informed, it has also made our lives more rushed, hectic and distracted,” according to distracted living research.

“Research is now proving that the brain is not quite coping with the amount of information we receive, and our ability to disconnect from the outside and be present in the moment is actually decreasing, according to Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD., a renowned cognitive neuroscientist.”


Photo: © nenetus, YFS Magazine
Photo: © nenetus, YFS Magazine

This is why it’s essential to assign a time limit to your social media activities and distractions in general. Turn off smartphone notifications and limit scrolling through your Facebook news feed. Limit personal social media activities to once or twice a day. As we all now, it’s way too easy to get distracted.


4. Accept that multitasking doesn’t work

I know you think you can do three things at one time and do them well. Yet, according to research – the human mind is incapable of keeping attention at two points at the same time.

According to new research published in the Scientific American, “The human brain is considered to be pretty quick, but it lacks many of qualities of a super-efficient computer. For instance, we have trouble switching between tasks and cannot seem to actually do more than one thing at a time. So despite the increasing options—and demands—to multitask, our brains seem to have trouble keeping tabs on many activities at once.”


Photo: © s4svisuals, YFS Magazine
Photo: © s4svisuals, YFS Magazine

So, stick to a single task and do not get up until you finish it – and if it’s big, divide it into small chunks, tiny and manageable chunks. Don’t believe the multitasking hype.


This article has been edited.

Arun Kumar Mishra, fondly known as Success Guru AK Mishra, is the Founder and Director of Chanakya IAS Academy and his dream Organization AK Mishra’s Art of Success. He is a celebrated motivational speaker who has been passionately providing his Art of Success training all over India to bring revolutionary transformation in human behavior. For more than two decades he has been inspiring youth with his motivational lectures. Through the AK Mishra’s Art of Success initiative, AK Mishra aspires to empower, inspire and program human minds to achieve success in every sphere of life. Connect with @guruakmishra on Twitter.


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