8 Timeless Productivity Tips from Ancient Philosophers

Their witty remarks and clear thoughts are as relevant now as they were centuries ago.

1. Start small

In order to achieve any goal, it’s important to take that very first step. In fact, it is not so easy: we are stopped by fears, doubts and self-doubt. But the only way to eat the elephant is to take one bite at a time.

If you have a huge task ahead of you, like writing a paper, then divide it into smaller tasks, and then do them one by one. It will be much easier to get started that way.

2. Don’t always try to do as much as possible

Being busy all the time and being productive are not the same thing. Learn to distinguish between the two, otherwise not only will you not get what you want, but you’ll drive yourself to burnout.

Don’t try to get as much done in a day as possible. Instead, focus on the results that matter most to you – choose quality over quantity. Don’t accept all offers, and try to avoid multitasking.

3. Live in the present

We think a lot about the past and the future, but most of us find it hard to be in the present. We often don’t notice what’s around us, we don’t appreciate what we have, and we experience more stress.

Try to return to the here and now more often. Meditation is a good skill to develop, but if you don’t enjoy meditating, that’s okay. Go out for a walk once a day without your phone and pay attention to the world around you.

Try keeping a journal. While you’re waiting for someone, look out the window instead of at your smartphone screen. Set up some notifications to remind yourself that it’s time to get back to the present moment.

4. Focus on what’s important and minimize the rest

Being productive doesn’t mean working 24 hours a day. You’ll accomplish more by working less, but directing your energies to priority tasks. For example, taking the next step toward your goal and spending time with your family.

Think about what’s most important to you, and try to cut back on other activities. Otherwise it will turn out that you spend the whole day doing little useful things, and on your priorities you do not have enough time.

5. Concentrate on what you can do

Don’t waste time resenting or lamenting when things don’t go your way. Some things you just can’t control.

For example, your colleague is sick and you have to do his job for the next few days. Of course, this is annoying. But there’s no point in wasting time and nerves thinking about the unfairness of the situation. Make a plan of what needs to be done, and if you see that you can’t cope, ask for help or to reschedule deadlines.

6. Remind yourself of your motivation

What do you get out of bed in the morning for? If you’re having trouble answering that question, there’s no way to be productive. Think about what motivates and inspires you. Add that to your life if you don’t have a lot of motivation in your life right now. Then it will be easier to manage time and work effectively.

And remember, inspiration doesn’t always come by itself. Sometimes you have to go looking for it: read books, listen to podcasts, watch interesting people speak.

7. Have fun doing what you do

When you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it’s easier to be productive. Being passionate about your work energizes you and helps you stay focused. It also fuels faith in yourself and motivates you to move forward. If you are dissatisfied with your work now, try to find at least something in it that gives you pleasure.

8. If you want to do well, take your time

Of course, you shouldn’t fall into perfectionism and try to bring everything to perfection, but too much haste is also not the best option. There are situations when you need to complete a task in a very short time. But when you do something serious and significant, remember the proverb “Measure twice, cut once. Otherwise, you run the risk of making mistakes and then regretting it.

If possible, allocate a little more time than necessary for the important matter. This will allow you to quietly check whether you have done everything correctly, and, if necessary, correct the mistakes.

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