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5 Out-of-the-box Productivity Tips for 2020: Time Management is Not One of Them!

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We’re all used to setting goals at the start of each year, from SMART, KPI, OKR, roof shot to moonshot goals, name it and you have definitely encountered it. And we’re so used to blaming it on poor time management if we underdeliver.

Truth be told, you can’t do anything in your powers to manage time, you manage yourself regarding time!

So, here are personal productivity tips that you may want to acquire to kickstart another decade.

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1. Gratitude Project

Have you ever experienced getting annoyed at the start of your day, and the rest of your day became unproductive because you keep noticing all the negative things? But what if, you take note of everything that is good about that day instead, do you think your outcomes will change?

“In gratitude, we recognize that the source of goodness is outside of ourselves.”
-Robert Emmons

Let’s start in 2020 with a Gratitude Project. Take notice and say thank you to people you interact with; your colleagues, your spouse, your parents, the uncle or auntie who made your Kopi or the sales representative who found the last pair of limited edition shoes you were looking for.

Don’t just say thank you for the habit, thank them for specific reasons; “Thank you for breakfast!” or “Thank you for troubleshooting my issue.” or “Thank you for the coffee!”

Later, you will notice how this gratitude project positively affects your daily productivity.

5-out-box-productivity-tips-2020-time-management-not-one-them-coffeeshop-effect

2. The Coffee Shop Effect

If you frequently pass by Starbucks and see many students and professionals working on their laptops while sipping their favourite Cafe Latte or Cappuccino, you might wonder whether they can concentrate in such a crowded space.

They do! The “Coffee Shop Effect” is real. Just a little noise in the background improves perception and mood. While too much noise degrades our performance, a certain optimal noise level allows people to see, hear and feel better.

Now put on your earphones and hit that play button!

5-out-box-productivity-tips-2020-time-management-not-one-them-break

3. Give Your Brain a Break

Did you know that on average you make 35,000 decisions every single day? That’s how the thinking part of your brain, responsible for logical thinking and using willpower to overcome impulses, is always at work.

Your brain is like a muscle and it accounts for 20% of your body’s energy use. During a typical day, you use about 320 calories just to think. Facebook or thumbing through your Instagram doesn’t count as productive breaks – you should feel your energy replenished after your breaks.

By limiting distractions, you are giving your brain a break. Hence, you become more productive throughout the day.

4. The Power of NO

Research shows that humans are novelty-seeking. Our brain keeps wanting something new because it feels good. This explains why, naturally, you can’t say “No” to your supervisors, bosses or colleagues.

Tools and frameworks can help us overcome obstacles in order to be more productive despite the mounting workload, but ultimately, knowing when to say NO helps you focus. If you keep saying yes, you’ll run the risk of piling up your to-do list, even if it means sacrificing focus on other things which may be more important.

5-out-box-productivity-tips-2020-time-management-not-one-them-earphones

5. Activate Your Brain Reward System

For the sixth year running, Google has landed the top spot on Fortune 100’s list of the Best Companies to Work For. In Google’s SEA Headquarters, I found this telling quote in one of their work stations:

Camping is definitely beautiful right under the stars, not in this corner.

Perhaps that is one of the key reasons why they’ve managed to clinch the top tech giant status year after year – because they actively promote ultra productivity in their employees. Making your work station appear like a “shiny new thing” activates your brain reward system.

Feeling unfocused? It’s time for a change and to get your productivity levels to skyrocket.

Time is just a tool, we can’t manipulate its quantities and no matter what we do, you cannot create more nor reduce time. But what we can control is how we produce the quality and meaning of work.

This 2020, you have 366 new inspirations and reasons to be productive. Take that extra day from the leap year as a bonus!


Only 8% of people fulfil their new year’s resolution, find out if you are one of them!
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