This One Thing Will Make You More Productive

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Sitting down to dinner while writing tomorrow’s grocery list, then checking your work email for that paperwork you’ve been waiting on, all while telling your kids that they can’t watch their show unless they eat their dinner is how most women operate these days. If you ever feel that if you just had more time you might be more productive, then this tip is for you.

This simple practice is something everyone can do, yet it seems elusive these days, almost lost. The good news is that you can get it back, starting right now.

This simple tool? Presence. Staying present and in the moment will help you be more productive.

I know, you have SO much to do. But guess what, even though you might tell yourself that things will slow down, the truth is that you won’t have more time in the future. There is not evidence that the pace of life will slow down. Something will always change, shift, to come up that needs to be dealt with. Instead of wishing that you had more time or feeling like there isn’t enough of it, shift your perspective to staying present with every person and situation you encounter.

When you’re present, you’ll actually be able to focus and complete tasks. As The Chicago Tribune pointed out,

“Researchers studied 1,100 workers at a British company and found that multitasking with electronic media caused a greater decrease in IQ than smoking pot or losing a night’s sleep.”¹

In fact, that study concluded that the IQ of people trying to juggle electronic messages and other tests fell by 10 points.² Checking your emails at the table or mid-conversation can actually make you dumber, which in turn can increase the feeling of overwhelm.

When you’re present you can actually feel happier, and a recent study at the University of Warwick found that happiness made people around 12% more productive.³ The kind of deep connection that makes you feel fulfilled with loved ones cannot be established while you’re distracted, which can leave you with an overall feeling of emptiness or missing out. Staying present and mindful in the current moment can bring a huge sense of calm to your life. That’s not to say we shouldn’t plan, planning is essential. It’s that being preoccupied at every moment about what has to happen next doesn’t serve you or anyone around you.

Staying present is actually a learned skill for most people, and like any skill it takes practice.

A simple way to control your time, thus presence and productivity, is to set a timer on your phone for a 45-minute “power hour” — because 45 minutes is the new hour — each time you sit down to do a work task. Put your phone in airplane mode and allow 45-minutes to complete the task. Be fully present in what you’re doing. Once the 45 minutes are up, get up for at least 15 minutes. Take a break, walk around, make a phone call. Whatever you do on that break, stay present. Forty-five minutes of real productivity far out weights a few hours of being halfway present. This simple, effective productivity tip is simple, free, and everyone can do it.