There is always something we have to do, someone we have to see, or some item we have to purchase/get rid of/repair/replace. That’s the way of life; we have more to do than the time we have would allow us. You start on one task, and more pop up. Sure, sometimes we get stuff done, but how many times have you gone to bed at night wishing you would have done just a little bit more? To understate this; you need to make use of your time more wisely, and that will ultimately result in more productivity.
Productivity. It sounds like a big word, but it is easy to accomplish once we get in the right frame of mind. It sounds easier said than done, for sure, but it is possible. We see it all the time, with big time corporate heavyweights, management gurus, and lifestyle coaches. Ever wondered how they manage to do all that, and still have time for themselves?
Here’s how …
- Get rid of the ‘to-do’ lists
Sure, it has been the way people have done tasks for such a long time now, but a giant to-do list is paralyzing. Instead of focusing on finishing the tasks and doing them well, people get more intimidated by the length of the list. We’re not saying do away with the list completely, but make it shorter. Better yet, do this: Make a smaller list of things that you would feel good about accomplishing in a day, that you would consider to be a successful day. It doesn’t have to be a big list, just two or three things you know you can complete in a given day. Short term/one day goals if you will. The rest of the long term to-do tasks go into a separate plan, a plan that you consult every few weeks or so.
- Get enough rest
Working all night and gulping down three mugs of coffee are good if you are coming up with the next space station plans for NASA, but for the rest of us ordinary people, sleeping a decent amount of time is much better. Well, that’s not to say you should sleep the rest of the summer away so you can be productive come winter. A good night’s sleep is very important to get your body relaxed and rejuvenated to take on the activities awaiting it.
If you are struggling to keep one eye open while working on a project, give it up and go to bed. Get the rest you need and wake up the next day ready to pick up where you left off. If you have been at it for weeks without a break, plan on spending a week or two away from it all.
- Focus on your strengths
Most people have some things or aspects that they perform better than others, or they do better than how other people would do for them. For the most part, these core strengths fall somewhere between these three: building careers, building family and friendships, and improving our own lives. As an example, only you can successfully build your career; only you can nurture a relationship with your partner or close friends; and only you can take up regular exercise to keep fit and in shape. For anything that doesn’t come close to these three, either let go of it, outsource, or reduce the amount if energy you exert on it.
- Beware the multitasking trap
We live in a world where everyone is always on the move, and tasks have to be performed at the same time. However, as much as multitasking can be beneficial, it is also mentally draining. Fatigue sets in quick when you are thinking of two or more tasks at the same time. As such, you are prone to burn out faster when you switch from one task to another without giving either all your concentration.
Rather, look to accomplish one task at a time. Concentrating on one task allows you to perform it to its absolute best, and completion, so you can move on the next item on the agenda without having to worry about the previous task. In fact, you will find that you get a lot more done when you do things piecemeal.
- Challenge yourself
A lot of people don’t value exercise as a valuable aspect of their lives. However, by engaging in physically challenging activities, you become more disciplined, active, mentally strong, and diligent. Productivity declines when one is not active, so what better way to become active by engaging in physical challenges? Besides those benefits, constant exercise increases your energy levels, boosts your immune system, concentration levels, and overall performance. As such, commit to a physical activity of some kind (walking, swimming, jogging) and make it part of your schedule.
A lot has been said on how to improve productivity, but what about how to avoid being less productive? What are the things one should stay away from that would kill productivity?
- Doing too much
You have more than you can accomplish on your plate. In other words, you have too much to do, and not enough time to do it all. Best advice; keep to the three categories of productive goals mentioned earlier. Anything that doesn’t fit there, you can do without.
- Doing the wrong things
It takes a lot to admit that you are doing the wrong things, and change your ways. Having a clear picture as to what you want to achieve in life is important, and from there you can set up a plan of action and outline a strategy to get it done.
Arguably the biggest productivity killer ever known. You say you will do it tomorrow, yet that tomorrow never comes. Procrastination is almost always as a result of everyday distractions, fear of failing, lack of accountability, lack of urgency, or simply because you have no idea what you want to do after you have accomplished a particular task. If you can pinpoint what exactly is making you procrastinate, the much better you will be at weeding out that obstacle.