1. Eliminate all half-work 

In today’s world of constant distraction, it is very easy for your attention to become divided between what you are bombarded with from society and the things you should be doing. Usually, you are trying to balance the needs of to-do lists, emails, and messages simultaneously while still trying to get things done. It is rare these days to be fully engaged with the task in front of you.

This division of your energy and time is what I call “half-work.” 

You are working on a report. However, you randomly stop to check your phone or open Twitter or Facebook for no good reason. 

You are trying a new workout routine. Then you hear about a different “new” fitness program two days later and decide to try some of it. You don’t make much progress with either of the two programs so you begin looking for something better. 

While speaking on the phone with somebody you are looking at your email inbox.

No matter how and where you fall into half-work, you always get the same result: you are never fully engaged with the task at hand, you achieve half as much in twice the amount of time, and you rarely commit to any task for a long period of time. 

Half-work is why you get more done on the day before you are going on vacation (because you are really focused) than you got done in the previous two weeks (when you were distracted constantly). 

Like everyone, I am constantly dealing with this problem. The best thing I have found to conquer this is to block out long periods of time and eliminate everything other than the one project I am focused on. 

I choose one exercise and focus only on that for the whole workout. (“Today I am just doing squats Anything else will be extra.”)

When I have an important project that I really want to dive into, I will set aside a couple of hours (or maybe a whole workday. I will put my phone in a different room and also turn off my Twitter, Facebook, and email. 

Completely eliminating distractions like this is really the only way that I know how to get focused, deep work done, and avoid having fragment sessions where only half-work gets done. 

Just think about how much more you could accomplish if you only did the work that needed to be done, how it need to be done, and got rid of all of the half-wandering, half-work that tends to fill up your days? Click here for more information on work scheduling and eliminating half work for good.

  1. Do your most important task first. 

As the day goes on, chaos and disorder have a tendency to increase. At the very same time, the choices and decisions that you need to make throughout your day have a tendency to drain you of your willpower. So by the end of the day, it is less likely that you will make good decisions compared to at the start of the day.

I have discovered that this also holds true for my workouts. As my workout continues to progress, my willpower is less and less to perform difficult exercises, grind out my reps, and finish my sets. 

For all of the reasons, I try my best to ensure that if I have something important that needs to get done, then I will do it first. 

So if I need to write an important article, I will get a glass of water and then being to type right after I wake up.  Or if I have a tough exercise that needs to be done, then I will do it at the start of my workout.

When the most important thing is done first, then you won’ ever have a day when something important doesn’t get done. When this simple strategy is followed, usually your day will end up being productive, even if everything does not go according to plan. When you do the most important thing first every day, that’s the only productivity tip that you are ever going to need. 

  1. Stick with your schedule but reduce the scope 

In the past, I have written about how important it is to follow a schedule instead of a deadline. There may be times when it makes sense to have a deadline. However, I am convinced that it is a lot more effective to follow a schedule to get important work done over the long term.

However, when it comes to the daily grind, it is easier said than done to follow a schedule. Ask anybody who is planning to work out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. They will tell you how difficult it can be to stick with a schedule every single time. 

To combat unplanned distractions that arise and overcome getting taken off track. I have made a small change in the way I approach my schedule. Putting the schedule first is my goal now instead of the scope. That is the exact opposite of the way goals are usually approached. 

So say you woke up in the morning planning to run 3 miles in the afternoon. Then your schedule ended up crazy during the day and time began getting away from you. So now you have just 20 minutes to spend on your workout.

There are two options available to you at this point. 

The first option is to tell yourself that you don’t even have enough time to get your workout done today and then spend whatever little time is left doing something else instead. In the past, that is normally what I would have done. 

Your second option is reducing the scope of what you want to do but sticking to your schedule. So instead of running for 3 miles, you can do 30 jumping jacks, or five sprints, or run for 1 mile. But no matter what, stick with your schedule and do your workout. Using this approach has brought me a lot more long-term success compared to the first option. 

There is not a significant impact of doing five sprints on a daily basis, especially when you had been planning to run 3 miles. However, there is a huge cumulative effect of staying on schedule at all times. No matter how short your workout is and what the circumstances are, you know that today’s task will get done. This is how small goals turn into a lifetime habit.

So get something finished today, even if it ends up being a smaller scope than you had planned.