In order to be our most productive, we need to be constantly evaluating our behaviour and what works for us.
We read books about productivity, advice from successful entrepreneurs and work hard to refine our routines. However, often it feels like we’re back to square one, just when we think we’ve got a hold on our workload and all of the challenges we face on a daily basis.
With all of the literature available on productivity and self-improvement, could just being more self-aware help to alleviate the potentially exhausting cycle of falling down and picking ourselves back up again?
In order to be more self-aware, we need to be conscious of what we’re good at and acknowledge what we still need to work on, according to an article by Inc.com, which explores the way in which self-awareness is essential for effective leadership. By being receptive to all kinds of feedback, we are able to become more aware of our limitations and work on improving certain skills, even though our instinctive reaction may be to pretend that we know it all and justify our behavior and decisions.
Whilst being self-aware might be the end goal, the truth is that it is a constant work in progress, and there are many things we can do to constantly improve the way we approach all aspects of our life. One suggestion from Lifehacker includes writing a journal, which assists us in becoming more aware of our thoughts and feelings, and what’s really going on inside our heads. Another suggestion is asking for feedback. This could be anything from a formal request to co-workers for anonymous feedback, or even by asking those close to us for their perspective on our strengths, which could give us an objective idea as to what skills we could improve on.
Self-tracking is another way to become more self-aware, which includes monitoring all aspects of our life using personal tracking devices and then analysing this information as data. The Quantified Self movement is a global organisation that connects developers from around the world to optimise the use of self-tracking applications, and hosts conferences and meetups around the world. With technology at our fingertips to record almost any kind activity, it’s incredible to read examples of the kinds of data that has been recorded, and the realisations that came from analyses of this data.
Judging from the list of speakers and topics at the latest Quantified Self Conference held in Amsterdam, self-tracking includes everything from collecting data about your moods and even your heart-rate variability. By monitoring our moods and physiological aspects such as heart rate variability over a certain period of time, we can be alerted to certain patterns such as repetitive periods of high stress, and could potentially learn to effectively manage these situations and prevent unnecessary stress in the future.
When it comes to productivity, self-awareness could also be used as a way to create a routine and work schedule that suits us best. Instead of only trying to follow models and routines that have worked for others, by being more conscious of the way we think, or work, we could potentially create an ideal routine that allows us to be our most productive. This could mean focusing on working at certain times of the day when you feel more focused, instead of having to conform a rigid schedule. For those who don’t have the option of a more flexible work schedule though, being more self-aware could mean just organising our days better and learning to work more effectively with others.