So, what does being productive look like to you?
Being productive probably means being able to accomplish more than you are used to, getting the things done that never seem to fit into your day.
It also probably means being able to efficiently use your time in a way that allows you to enjoy life, avoid becoming a workaholic, and establishing and maintaining healthy relationships and friendships.
So how do you achieve this vision of productivity you know you need in your life?
Being More Productive
You have probably heard the saying “practice makes perfect” or “practice makes progress.”
These still ring true in the case of productivity as well.
When you start trying to become more productive and learning how to stay productive, there are many things you can do to get and keep yourself on the right track.
1) Write down your daily tasks the night before.
One of the best practices I use to keep myself in check and to ensure I am going to have a productive day is to make a list every day of the major tasks that need to be done the next day.
Typically, I use the method of picking 3 personal tasks and 3 business related tasks to try and attack for the day.
This means that every night before bed when I am finished with my work I write down the tasks I hope to complete the next day.
2) Time your tasks.
I recommend only choosing the few most important tasks possible so that you don’t get too overwhelmed. Then take these tasks, and right next to them write how long it should take you to get them done. Keep in mind that you don’t want to push yourself too much during this process. We want to be able to do our work at a solid pace and have the best quality output. Learning how to be more efficient doesn’t happen overnight, after all.
Then using a timer, an hourly tracker like Toggl, or a stopwatch, or anything of the sort that allows you to track the time. I want you to keep track of how long it took you to finish your work from start to finish.
This by itself will not only help you to practice being more efficient but will also keep you focused because you’re “racing against the clock” in a sense. You will be more mindful of the time you are using and you will make sure it is put to best use.
This can also be a game changer because as you time tasks, you will realize that some tasks really aren’t the most productive things you can do with your time. This can help you to make sure you are not wasting time on tasks that require a lot of time but provide little results.
3) Keep a daily calendar.
Another way you can see some drastic changes in productivity is by keeping a daily calendar. You can buy a productivity planner, or simply create an excel spreadsheet that allows you to fill in time slots with things you hope to get done for the day.
Depending on your own personal preferences, you can make this as specific or as vague as you would like.
For example, my excel spreadsheet actually accounts for every hour from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep. I have each block for every hour filled with a task that I need or hope to get done. I try my best to keep my life going by schedule as it allows me the most freedom and peace of mind.
In these blocks, I write down when I will eat, when I will work out, work on my business, do work for clients, etc.
You obviously don’t have to be this detailed as it can be stressful for some, but I recommend trying to be as organized as possible with the tasks you need to get done and being aware of when they need to be finished, how long it will take you to finish them, and why you are doing them at all.
4) Know what matters and what doesn’t.
Another reason I see a lot of people struggling with being productive is that they fail to realize what matters in their life and what produces results.
A great example of this is at one point I was very adamant about exercising 2-3 times per day. I would go out of my way and put other things off to add another exercise into my day.
I am not saying there is anything wrong with this if exercising is a passion of yours or is a way for you to let off steam or something of that nature. (Although, I do recommend you give yourself time to relax and recover.)
But, for me, there was a problem. You see, when I went on vacation around a year ago to the beach I only exercised once, first thing in the morning. When I came back from the beach I realized that I had lost more weight by eating better and exercising once a day then I did eating sort of badly and exercising three times a day.
This helped me to come to terms with the fact that the extra 2-3 hours a day I was working out was not one of my more productive things to do, and that time could be better utilized doing something else. (Hence this neat little blog you’re reading.)
I recommend frequently looking at your life, and trying to pick out what things give you the most results and what is simply just a waste of time.
This will increase your productivity alone by allowing you to focus on what drives the most results in life for you.
5) Establish your day and what routine works best for you
The truth is, a lot of the productivity you have throughout the day depends on HOW you STARTED the day, i.e. the productive things to do at home before you even truly start your workday.
If you wake up at a decent time, get out of bed motivated, and begin immediately getting things done, you will more than likely accomplish more than people who don’t.
Some tips for having a good routine are:
- Don’t use your phone as soon as you get up. Not only can this serve as a huge waste of time, but it can also affect your day negatively if you receive a text message or social media notification that bothers you.
- Write your biggest goals on a sheet of paper and hang it up near the bed or write them on your mirror so that every day you are faced with what you hope to achieve.
- Take time to relax and meditate or just breathe. If you wake up and get to work IMMEDIATELY your brain will be slow and groggy, and you will probably be grumpy. I like to get out of bed and sit quietly on the floor while imagining my dream life and focusing on what I want to accomplish in the future.
- Avoid things that stress you out or can consume you. This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often we do this. I’m sure there have been days you wake up and start your day with watching television and get consumed by Netflix, only to fast forward 3 hours later and realized you have gotten nothing done. Avoid things like this at all costs.
Being more productive and efficient throughout the day most often has nothing to do with what you are doing, but actually HOW you are doing them.
You must master the art of execution and make sure that you are doing the right things in the right way. Or else your results will show for it.
What are some ways you struggle with being productive or not getting the results you want? How do you plan on fixing them?
Until the next one,
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