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Okay, okay… while I know the title of this article sounds a little clickbaity, I promise I’ll come through with the goods (and I won’t even make you scroll to the bottom of the page for it).
If I were to look at all the productivity tips and hacks and tricks and methods and any other ‘must do’ things – there’s honestly one thing that has made the biggest difference, and it is also the easiest to implement…
You can be more productive today by simply making less decisions.
Sounds too good to be true, but serioulsy, it’s easier to do than you might believe and you can start doing it right away.
Here’s how you can be more productive today by simply making less decisions:
Routines are my absolute favourite thing when it comes to productivity and organization. Not to be confused with schedules, which are more of a set time in which you do things, routines are more of a set order in which things happen.
Take your mornings for example; every morning you probably do roughly the same thing – you get up, make your coffee, have some breakfast, get ready for the day, and go to work. But from the moment you wake up, you’re already in decision-making mode, often without realising it.
What mug should I use for my coffee? Should I sit down and drink my coffee or get my clothes ready while drinking on the go? Do I cook breakfast, grab some cereal, or go through drive-thru on my way to work? What should I wear today? Which route should I take to work?
All of these decisions, while they may be small, add to decision fatigue. And not to mention the time it takes to make the decisions can add up. A minute or two here, a few minutes of hesitation there and before you know it you’ve lost 20 – 30 minutes of your morning to decision limbo.
This is where having a routine can help. Rather than make these decisions as you go, have the same routine each day so your morning flows without losing time to decision making.
An example of this would be when you wake up, you make your coffee and use the same mug every day, while the kettle is boiling you unstack the dishwasher and then sit down and drink your coffee while checking emails or reading a book for 15 minutes. You then have a shower, get dressed in the clothes you prepared the night before, eat your breakfast that you have written for yourself on your meal plan, and then move into the rest of your day.
Even micro routines such as shower, brush teeth, dry hair, skin care routine, then get dressed can make a big difference to how easily your day flows and therefore increase your productivity.
Group Like Tasks Together
You will be amazed at how many decisions you can eliminate by adding this simple little tweak. It requires a little forethought and planning, but the increased productivity payoff is certainly worth it.
All you need to do is group your like tasks together and in doing so, you reduce your decisions of when to do things as you’ll naturally start doing them together.
The best example of this is with kids lunches. It’s one of those things that has to be done, but somehow manages to take up a bunch of time in the morning. Instead, what I do is group this task with my preparing dinner task the night before. I’m already in the kitchen, already chopping things up and making a kitchen mess, so it’s very little extra effort to make the lunches at the same time. And I simply add in things that I’m already preparing for dinner as well.
Another example is getting ready of a morning, rather than have a shower, leave the bathroom to get dressed, go have breakfast, come back and do my hair, then chase the kids up to get organized for the morning, then come back and do my skin care routine, I group all the tasks together. This means I only walk into the bathroom once in the morning, do all of my bathroom tasks, then I’m done.
I know, I know… it’s been said before but I’ll say it again, meal planning really truly does eliminate a ton of decisions throughout the week, makes life a whole lot easier and makes you far more productive.
It isn’t just about deciding what you’ll have for dinner each day, but the mental process of working out what you have in the fridge/freezer/pantry then having to work out if you need to go to the grocery store and how long things will take to prepare etc, etc…
There’s a lot of small decisions that go into daily dinners (and lunches… and breakfasts) that can be significantly reduced by meal planning.
Working out your meals in advance (usually just one week in advance is enough) can mean you only have to grocery shop once a week (wooohooo – I mega loathe grocery shopping), cook less as you can use leftovers for future meals, save money on food, reduce the amount of food that is wasted, and eat healthier as you’ll be less inclined to say ‘bugger it’ and get take out for dinner.
Pay attention to the number of decisions you’re making in a day, especially the smaller ones. The time it takes to make these decisions all adds up and it’s time spent doing something that ultimately just makes you more mentally fatigued (decision fatigue is real!).
A little planning, a little forethought, and a little awareness can go a long way in reducing the number of decisions you make and being more productive in the process.