4 productivity tips to live smarter, not harder

How to live with purpose and clarity

We often confuse being busy for being important. If we are busy, rushed off our feet, constantly on the hustle it means we are important, right?

The rushed mornings, the late nights at the office, the lunches spent glued to the phone or laptop, the gym membership that was once a shiny beacon of hope, now just an annoying reminder with its monthly direct debits that you can't bring yourself to cancel. It's all in the name of feeling important... right?

"The key to living smarter and effectively managing your productivity is managing your energy."

The pressures of modern life see us juggling more tasks and engaging in more activities, as well as increasing our workloads in order to get more things done quicker. Instead of accomplishing enough to be satisfied, we are often left feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and unfulfilled.

Living Smarter means living with purpose, clarity and focus. We all know people from different vocations, the stay-at-home parents to CEO's that seem to have their 'you-know-what' together.

They are happy people. They don't spend their days racing around; they are calm, live in the moment and focus on one thing at a time. They give you their undivided attention when speaking with you. They design their lives and schedules around what's important to them, as opposed to living life in reaction mode. They know how precious time is, and they know how essential it is to be at the top of their game at all time, to make the most of the time they have. This means having the energy, vitality and clarity to make decisions based around what is important to them in their personal and professional life.

The key to living smarter and effectively managing your productivity is managing your energy.

1. Start your day right.

If you are truly set on creating a more powerful and fulfilling life for yourself, you will want to know one of the most consistent habits truly successful people do every morning. Ok, lets not beat around the bush, they workout. Exercise changes the chemical processes in your brain, releasing serotonin, the feel good chemical, and sets your day up for success.

Jim Citrin at Yahoo! Finance set out to study the daily routine of 20 CEOs. What he discovered was that of all the CEO's that responded to his poll, made daily morning exercise a non-negotiable in their routine.

Running a small business from a home office, with a newborn and a teenage son is a juggling act in itself... Once I could not cope with if I did not get my daily dose of endorphins. Before my 7 week old daughter came along, I went to classes at the gym or trained myself – Now I make do with walking and pushing her pram up Arden St in Coogee to get my sweat on... Do whatever your circumstances allow. Just get out and get moving.

2. Learn to use the magical word 'No' as a full sentence.

I don't have to tell you that saying Yes to things that you really don’t want to do just because you don't want someone to think badly of you is a redundant practice.

You can never be productive when you spread yourself too thin. Nothing will get done, at least not well or on time.

What happens when you say 'No'? Not much. The person will just go ask the next person.

You don't have to have an excuse. 'No' will suffice. Try it next time. It feels really good.

3. Eat A Frog.

Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst things that is going to happen to you all day long. The frog is a metaphor for your biggest and most important task. It encourages us to develop a habit of starting and completing items that we value and have prioritised.

4. Be still.

It's counter-intuitive, when there is so much to get done and your head is in a spin about just about everything, to ask yourself to just stop.

Sit. Close your eyes. Breathe.

But I don’t have the time to relax!!

Decades of research suggest that setting aside time for meditation improves concentration and reduces stress. The best part is, you can do it anywhere, any time of day and you only really need a couple of minutes to get started.

If meditation isn't your bag, maybe mindfulness is. At its core, mindfulness is attention training without a spiritual component.

Mindfulness means drawing your attention to the sensations of the present moment, and noting, without frustration or judgement, any thoughts that get in the way. Be completely present. Whatever it is you are doing. It's no wonder companies such as General Mills, Ford, Target, Google, Adobe and Goldman Sachs have incorporated mindfulness training into their corporate wellness programs to benefit not only their people's health and happiness, but also their bottom line.

Live a smarter, happier life by doing fewer things that create more value in your life rather than more things that create endless empty tasks and to-dos.

Tenar Larsen Roberts
Tenar Larsen Roberts is the Founder & Director of The Lifestylers Co. TLC is a community of people, brands & products that enable their clients to lead happier, healthier lives with less stress and more time to do good things! Visit www.thelifestylersco.com for more information.

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