How Small Changes Can Lead to Large Jumps in Performance

We all want to be able to work better and get more accomplished. The world is full of advice on how to increase your productivity. Some of it is more complicated. But here are few tips on how to work smarter that are simple to put into practice, and one hopes, will contribute to lasting improvement to performance.

1. Little changes to your surroundings.
Making small changes to your environment can be a big help in giving you the willpower to get things done. We are often overcome by inertia – a reluctance to begin something new that requires effort. But these small changes in your surroundings will help you to overcome that inertia.

For example, you want to get more exercise in the morning. So, you need to make it as easy as possible to get started. You can do this by laying out your workout clothes the night before and putting your sneakers by your bed, along with a water bottle.

At work, changing your environment could mean doing things like changing the color of our desktop to blue, which has been shown to help people be more productive, or getting your desk organized, which has also been shown to increase productivity.

2. Set small goals.
We all have big, hairy goals, what we want to accomplish with our lives. And that’s good. But to help increase our productivity, we need to set small goals, goals that are doable right now, goals that are specific, and goals that we can measure.

Say, for example that you want to learn new language. That’s a big hairy goal. So break it down into smaller goals. For example, learning 25 new vocabulary words for one hour three times a week. That is a goal that you can see yourself doing, one that is specific, and one that you can measure how you are doing.

3. Work more strategically
If you have a lot of work to do, you might be like some people and simply plow through it, stopping only to take a bathroom break or down a can of soda. But this is not working very strategically.

You cannot simply expect to work marathon sessions without it affecting your productivity. In fact, as you work longer, your productivity and quality of work will steadily decline.

You need to take periodic breaks for your mind and body to recover and recharge. We are built to work best when we work in short bursts, followed by a break. For example, work for 30 minutes, and then take a break for 10, and then a longer break after an hour or two. Get up and walk around.

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