Being more productive, requires better concentration. Here are some tricks to improve productivity, increase efficiency, and work smart.
You’ve probably heard the statement “work smart not hard” before. That principle has been around for decades. So we’re not going to dwell on the basics of it here, to avoid boring you with old news.
Just a quick refresher though. The idea behind the concept is to focus your energy and effort on the stuff that matters for better productivity.
You can spend an entire day working hard on tasks of little value/weight and it would simply be a waste. To work smart you narrow down your concentration to the activities of value and focus on them first.
You should complete the aforementioned tasks first. As you do that you’ll find that you’ve achieved much more with less effort. In turn, you find that you were more productive with less work and laser like concentration.
The Difference Between Productivity And Efficiency
People often use the terms productivity and efficiency interchangeably. This is incorrect!
Productivity is the amount of results or work produced, in a given time frame. This is regardless of the amount of effort and/or money invested.
Efficiency on the other hand is the amount of results, or work delivered in a certain time-frame. But this time it’s evaluated in comparison to the effort, money, or resources invested.
I think a great example of this difference is car engines. A productive engine can produce a larger amount of horse power or torque.
This is an engine’s productivity. It doesn’t take into consideration how much gasoline it takes to produce/deliver that kind of power.
However, a car is considered as having better efficiency if it gives you more mileage with less fuel consumption.
Exercises To Concentrate Better, Increase Productivity, And Improve Efficiency
Improving your ability to focus and concentrate more, makes you more productive. This is why I’ve put together a list of exercises that I personally use to help with my concentration.
They improve my ability to concentrate, improve my focus, and increase my efficiency. Since we like to work smart, we’ll look at exercises with minimal effort and massive results.
Staring In The Horizon
This exercise is best done from higher locations with no obstacles in your line of sight. You need to spend at least 10 minutes doing this and gradually increase the time as your focus improves.
The trick here is to eliminate all thoughts and ideas from your mind, just stare into the horizon, at the same spot. Clear your mind completely and breath deeply, it’s a form of meditation.
What you’ll find happening is despite your mind being empty during this time…
You’ll concentrate on two things. The first is at keeping distractions and thoughts at bay. The second is keeping your gaze at the same spot.
In essence you are training your mind to concentrate and be more productive, in a simple and effortless manner.
If you get distracted or lose your focus temporarily, don’t feel discouraged. Clear your mind again and continue what’s left of your 10 minutes. Then come back tomorrow and try to spend more of uninterrupted concentration.
Eventually you’ll be able to spend the entire time with no distractions. This is when you begin to increase the duration.
Another added benefit of this exercise is that you’ll see an improvement in your emotional and psychological state. Both of which will help you work smart!
Reading With Music Or TV Playing In The Background
We live in a world that is constantly bombarding us with sensory overload. Distractions are everywhere around us, killing our concentration. It’s a miracle, we can get anything done and be productive in such an environment.
This exercise will help your mind learn to tune out all the background noise. In turn, allowing you to focus with high concentration in the most difficult conditions.
As with everything we do this gradually. The best for this is a book, not online articles, not an eBook, but a real physical book.
Why? Because it doesn’t have any banner ads or notifications. It eliminates the distractions you get on your laptop and/or phone. Even if you mute notifications. You will still the little icons at the top of your screen on a mobile and limiting your concentration abilities.
Now when you very first start, spend 15 minutes with the TV or music at a very low volume, barely audible.
The next day you raise the volume a little bit, and so on. The goal here is to get to spend 1 hour reading with a somewhat loud TV volume and not get distracted.
Just like with the previous exercise, and all other exercises in this article. Don’t panic if you get distracted a few times at first. With time you’ll be able to concentrate better trust me!
I would suggest when you first start to also shut your laptop and mute your phone. Then put them somewhere where you can’t see them if they light up with a notification or call.
That way you can be more productive and maintain your concentration longer. Moreover, and continuing with the work smart strategy, you learn stuff. Two goals, one activity.
Please make sure while you exercise your focus that you don’t disturb your neighbors. Use headphones if necessary!
Memorize Stuff For Higher Efficiency
This one won’t only help you with concentration. It’ll also help your mind store memories with more efficiency.
What you memorize is not important. It could be one of many options. Dictionary words and definitions, phone numbers, poetry, song lyrics, quotes, or verses from a holy book. Whatever interests you really.
Remember to go at your own pace, even if it’s just one number, line, or definition.
Tomorrow revise the line you learned today and memorize a new one. On the third day revise from memory what you memorized the last two days and a new one for that day, and so on.
With time you will find that not only have you acquired a bullet proof memory, but also memorize stuff much faster. Some people with this exercise, acquire what is referred to as photographic memory.
Photographic memory is nothing more than the ability to concentrate deeply. It is basically retaining memories quickly and with high efficiency.
The difference is that they retain in very fine and thorough detail. So much so, that it’s as if the person can see a photograph of it in their imagination.
This is the holy grail in terms of being productive!
Right I said it! Bet you were waiting for me to mention it, weren’t you? I don’t think there is a need to discuss all the overwhelming scientific evidence here.
The benefits of meditation to mental health have been already covered by experts all over the world.
I will not be talking here about the traditional “yoga” type meditation, since I don’t practice yoga myself.
However, I’ll share with you a neat technique. I learned it during the training to receive my Neuro-Linguistic Programing Diploma.
First step is to drink a glass of water. According to our instructor, Mr. Bassem El Attar, it helps clear the brain and deliver oxygen better.
The next step is to sit down on a comfortable chair with knees at a 90 degree angle. Make sure your feet are flat and firmly planted on the ground to keep you grounded.
Rest your back comfortably on the chair and rest your arms on the arm rests of the chair. Don’t arch your back, instead try to comfortably stretch your body. Try to allow more space for your lungs to expand.
Now close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths, starting with a long deep exhalation. This releases toxins from your lungs. As opposed to pushing them into your bloodstream by inhaling first.
As you take those deep breaths imagine a scanner running a diagnostic on your body. All the way from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
As the imaginary scanner travels across your body make adjustments in your posture. Visualize your bones and spine re-aligning to their correct positions.
After the 10 deep breaths you will continue to follow the same breathing pattern.
Finding Your Happy Place
Once you get to that stage you will want to imagine somewhere where you are at peace. For me that was always our beach-house on the Mediterranean.
For others it was the woods, dessert or anywhere peaceful and quite that they loved.
Don’t just imagine the place. Be there with your consciousness, feel the wind in your face, sun on your skin, any scents you smell there. Now focus on how you feel, be one with the peace and joy you are feeling.
Don’t think about anything else. Focus all your attention and concentrate on the experience you are having. Keep your mind clear of any distractions.
You are no longer in the room with your consciousness, you’re in your happy place.
Spend as much time in that mind-space as you can and empty your mind completely of anything outside it.
Then when it’s time to come back count to 10 and feel your consciousness come back to the room you are in.
If you’ve done this right you will come back feeling your mind clearer and your energy levels are much higher. This will help you focus and train your mind to concentrate much better.
I actually learned this in a leadership training course in one of the companies I used to work for. Unfortunately the training was discontinued before we got certified.
However, I was fortunate enough to attend the session on this exercise before that.
Most of us when we listen to people we’re busy thinking about how we will respond. We wait for them to finish so we can speak. Active listening is exactly the opposite of that.
Have you ever been listening to someone for a while only to realize you tuned out for a second? Possibly even missed something important they said?
With active listening this doesn’t happen. You concentrate with all your senses in the conversation.
You would be surprised how much more you can understand and figure out using this technique. But this is not our topic here.
So how do you train for that? Well you literally silence your mind. Then just listen, think about every word they say without going into a chain of thought about it.
With time you will not only train your focus. You will also be able to communicate with higher efficiency.
Plus you’ll have more productive discussions.
Now That You Can Concentrate Better, What’s Next?
So you’ve mastered the art of focusing. You can now concentrate the heck out of anything we put your mind to.
How can you use this new ability to increase your productivity and efficiency?
It is a known fact that distractions are the biggest enemies to being productive. Alright let’s put all we’ve learned here into an actionable plan.
Every day we’ll plan our activities and tasks for the next day. This could be things we need to do in our job, personal life, or business.
After we’ve listed our tasks and activities we need to give them a weight from 1 to 10. The weight will be based on how fulfilling completing this task is.
Think in terms of how important it is for your business or employer. For example in a job setting, let’s assume you know the priority of tasks in the eyes of your boss.
The higher the priority the more weight you give it.
When the next day comes start with the tasks that have the highest weight first. Your goal is to cross them out first, this is how you work smart.
However, there is one exception to this rule, quick wins.
Work Smart With Quick Wins
This exercise is design to push back stuff that takes time and has little impact. In a business setting…
It could be something that has no impact on your customer’s satisfaction or your sales.
But what are quick wins? These are activities and tasks that take very little time to complete. However, they help you cross out more activities on the list. It also increases your productivity!
Just make sure you don’t get hung up on finishing all of those first. Otherwise you would be working hard when you need to work smart.
A good ratio would be 3 to 1, where you finish 3 high impact tasks and then one quick win.
This way you finish more tasks in less time. As a bonus, you also multiply your productivity and efficiency.
Well my friend I think that’s enough for today! I believe it’s time you started doing some of the exercises mentioned here today to become more productive.
Here’s a quick recap to refresh your memory:
- Staring in the horizon
- Reading With Music Or TV in the background
- Memorize Stuff
- Active Listening
It’s important to remember that improving your ability to concentrate is a process.
You may, after these exercises feel a spike in your concentration and are able to be more productive. Later on in the day it may wane slightly, though.
Don’t worry, it’s like going to the gym. After you warm up the blood runs in your veins oxygenating your muscles, which makes it easier to lift.
However, after you leave the gym and have cooled down, you may find it a little challenging to lift the same weight.
With time though, and as your muscles get stronger, that weight becomes easier to lift at rest. Just as your mind thrives, so will your productivity.
The same is going to happen with your mind so don’t get discouraged and stick with it.
There are also vitamins in the “B” family that can help with memory and concentration.
Sometimes we have a deficiency in them. If you are struggling with memory and concentration I’d talk to a doctor.
I’ve been diagnosed with this deficiency at some point in my life. Taking these vitamins helped me significantly.
I won’t recommend it here though as I am not a medical professional.
Never take medical advice from anyone other than a doctor who ran tests on you!
Suggested Reading: What Is An Entrepreneurs Mindset?
Good Luck on your pursuit of higher productivity my friend!
Evolve Your Wealth,
Founder & CEO