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Improving Productivity and Focus at Work

Improving Productivity and Focus at Work

Author: SNI Companies/Tuesday, August 24, 2021/Categories: Blog, SNI Companies, SNI Financial, Industry Trends, SNI Certes, Industry Trends, SNI Technology, Accounting Now, Staffing Now

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Charles Duhigg, author of the books: The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better writes about habit formation and productivity. How do we become more productive as well as create routines to help us build and maintain healthy habits? In today’s blog, we turn to Duhigg’s work for his insights and observations.



Most people agree that productivity isn’t about working harder or longer. Charles says, “The difference between being merely busy and genuinely productive is about taking control of how we think and making better choices—instead of simply reacting to life's constant demands.” One of the ways to feel in control is to start making conscious choices instead of only responding and reacting. When you’re reacting to demands or the situation, you’re not thinking, planning, and strategizing. The people that can set goals and get the most done are those that can focus and eliminate distractions. They focus on the main goal and sort what is helpful versus what is a distraction. We may think of distractions as spending time on social media, watching tv, etc., but distractions aren’t always so obvious. In his book, Smarter Faster Better, Charles writes, “If you need to improve your focus and learn to avoid distractions, take a moment to visualize, with as much detail as possible, what you are about to do. It is easier to know what's ahead when there's a well-rounded script inside your head.”


Habit Formation

We may think habits only make up a small portion of our day-to-day life, but in reality, they make up a large portion of our daily actions. A Duke University research paper found that about 40% of people’s daily actions weren't due to decision making but were due to habits. It can be powerful to know that such a large part of our lives are taken up by habits because it can help us evaluate whether those habits are helpful or if we need to change them. If we want to implement new habits, Charles recommends using the framework:

  • Identify the routine
  • Experiment with rewards
  • Isolate the cue
  • Have a plan

An example of putting these steps into action could be wanting to adopt a new running routine. Once you know you want to start running (identifying the routine), you choose the cue (such as in the evening setting out your workout clothes and running shoes for your planned morning run), experimenting with a reward (like a refreshing drink after your run or an Epsom salt bath in the evening for your muscles), and creating a plan (you’ll run every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, from 6:30 am-7:30 am). It takes willpower to implement and maintain new habits, but like training a new muscle it will get stronger with time and consistency.



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