How a Warm-Up Routine Improves Your Productivity

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Here is a simple hack to help you warm up your day, a better way, so that you can perform at your productive best.

You need to do a quick productivity warm up routine.

Just like when you do a heavy workout, you need to warm up first. You need to do a few easy reps before you do the tougher stuff. This is true for your personal productivity, too.

By doing a quick productivity warm-up routine, you set the stage for better focus, better memory, and better motivation. To put it another way, you will be in a better mood, and less distracted.

Here’s how …

Do a Few Warm Up Tasks First (and Check Them Off!)

Chances are, you have a bunch of different things to do today. Some tasks will be more challenging than others.

Do a few fast, simple tasks first to build your momentum.

The act of completing a task and checking it off will warm up your motivation and mood to take on your tougher stuff.

Here’s why ….

We Like to Complete Things

By checking things off, it makes you feel good.

And finishing things helps with our “completion bias.”

Completion bias is a term Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business school, and Bradley Staats, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina, use to explain how our brains seek to complete things and the pleasure it brings.

When you complete something, and achieve your mini-victory, your brain releases dopamine. And that little hit of dopamine improves your attention, your memory, and your motivation.

It’s powerful stuff.

In their study, Gino and Staats, found that warm-up tasks helped improve job satisfaction, feel more motivated, and accomplish more in the week. By completing the first few tasks in your day quickly, you get the boost you need to do the rest of your work.

So there really is some science behind why checking off the box next to your task actually works.

Unfinished Tasks Dangle in Your Mind

There’s another reason why checking things off is a good thing.

When you don’t finish a task, it dangles in your mind.

It’s called the Zeigarnik effect.

Your mind holds on to interrupted or incomplete tasks. These thoughts can be distracting.

Your mind stays preoccupied with your unfinished business.

This makes it difficult to focus on the task at hand.

But when you complete your task, you fee up your mind to focus more fully on the task in front of you.

Beware of “Completion Bias”

It can be addicting. If getting things done is fun and can make you more productive, why not keep going?

Because then you don’t actually do your important things.

This is a case where too much of a good thing, becomes a bad thing.

While completing your easy tasks can feel fun and rewarding, and make you more productive, it can get in the way of working on your larger, more important tasks.

So use your warm up tasks to warm-up your productivity, but not to rule your day.

Hack a Better To-Do List

Don’t let the easy get in the way of the important.  You know you have a lot of more important things to work on.

Or do you?

A lot of people actually don’t really have a simple list of their priorities, the 3-5 priorities that guide them through their day.

Don’t let that be you!

Write down your priorities to remind me of the person you want to become, or the changes you want to make or the accomplishments you want to achieve.

Your priorities are your North Star for your day, and they help you rise above the noise.

And add a few warm-up tasks to your To-Do list, so that you can build some momentum, enjoy a better mood, and slay your day the Agile way.

How do you know when you’ve done enough tasks to warm-up? (which may be 1 or more tasks)

When you feel a little shift in your energy where you start to feel you can now eat your next task or challenge for breakfast.

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