A few months ago I couldn’t consider myself very productive, I just couldn’t get things done as I wished. For example, I remember I always had my cell phone in my hands and checked the notifications every two minutes.

Too many useless activities were absorbing my energy. And I wasn’t doing much to change the situation.

“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”
― David Allen

However, I also spent a lot on a useful and important activity: reading personal development articles and books. It has been my addiction for years.

So, devouring self-improvement articles and books helped me identify what I was doing wrong — many things — and what I needed to improve to get more done.

And I now have my set of habits I can’t give up on. Thanks to this, I get things done and feel satisfied at the end of each day.

1. Hiding my phone.

One day I was reading an article about some productivity habits and I remember one particular piece of advice captured my attention:

"Keep your phone out of sight."

“Why should I keep the phone out of my sight?” I thought. I gave it a try. I worked for 30 minutes and kept my phone behind my computer, where I couldn’t see it.

Then I understood.

That simple piece of advice helped me remove my worst distraction and temptation — my phone. It helped me focus.

It translated into being five times more productive and getting things done.

However, I still had the temptation to check Whatsapp, Instagram, and Facebook from time to time. I thought of things I had to check, and since I had my phone there, just behind the computer and within hands reach, I took it and let the distractions in, again.

So I realized that the productivity hack I had learned was good, but there was something that could be improved.

Instead of just keeping my phone out of sight, I also had to keep it in another room, where I couldn't easily reach it. So I started to leave my phone in the bedroom and on silent mode anytime I was working or studying.

This simple new habit helped boost my productivity as I finally got rid of the need to check my phone every two seconds.

2. Using a customized version of the Pomodoro Technique.

The Pomodoro Technique is a great productivity tool. In case you’re not familiar with it, it was developed by the Italian entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s and it’s a time management method that consists of working in small shifts of 25 minutes of focused work — that is, with no interruptions — with short breaks. Each break can last between 3 and 5 minutes.

The technique was named after the kitchen timer that Cirillo used, which just had the shape of a tomato — “pomodoro” in Italian.

“The only reason to stop a Pomodoro is when your house, pants, or butt are on fire.”
— Francesco Cirillo
The benefits of this time management technique are many:

It helps reduce distractions;
It makes you more productive and helps you get things done;
Taking frequent breaks prevents tiredness and helps you stay focused and productive;
You can measure your work and have an idea of how long you have spent on your daily tasks.
After using this technique for a while, I realized I could adapt it to my rhythm. So I tried some alternatives. I broke down my daily work into 40-minutes and 50-minutes time blocks, with longer breaks. I also tried 35-minutes shifts.

After several tries, I found my ideal Pomodoro duration. Now I usually work in 30-minutes intervals — with no interruptions and removing any distraction— and take a 5-minutes break in between. It helps me be productive and get things done without feeling tired.

The duration is very subjective. So, if it’s the first time you use the Pomodoro Technique, I suggest to try different alternatives and find your ideal structure.

"One day we will be more creative, more productive and yet more relaxed."
— Francesco Cirillo

3. Focusing on the Circle of Influence.

One of my favorite Personal Development books is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. There is one idea I learned in this book that helped me upgrade my mindset, become more productive and waste less time on useless tasks — such as checking my Facebook ads stats every two seconds. The concept I’m talking about is the Circle of Influence.

According to Covey, there are two areas where we can focus our time and energy. The first area is our Circle of Concern, and it consists of the things we can’t control, anything we can’t change. The second one is our Circle of Influence, and it represents the things we can control.

"Proactive people focus their efforts on the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about."
— Stephen Covey

Simply becoming familiar with this concept will help you become aware of where you are putting your energy, and which of the two circles you are focusing on. Once you know this, you will focus your energy on the right activities, reduce waste and get more done.

If you learn these three good practices, you will see that combining them is key to boost your productivity.

Keeping your phone in another room, working in microshifts taking frequent small breaks, and focusing on your Circle of Influence will definitely help you always get things done.

“Wake up determined. Go to bed satisfied.”
— Dwayne Johnson

Author's Bio: 

Sira is a Personal Development Coach and writer.
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