What is “productivity” anyway? Simply put, productivity is getting more done in less time. For those of us who are way over-booked, a little free time would be a lovely thing to have. Am I right? So, let's talk about some simple ways get some.
1. Plan Your Day the Night Before. Before you go to bed make sure to sit down with your planner or calendar and write a to-do list with tasks for the next day. Identify the goals you want to achieve, the tasks you need to finish and schedule your time. This works for two reasons. First, since you wrote it down you can now lay aside the planning and get a good night's sleep. Next, when you wake up in the morning you will be ready to go – no floundering around wondering where to start!
2. Find The Right Planning System For You. It doesn’t matter whether you use a notebook or a mobile app to keep on track. Find a system that fits your style. If you are all about technology, Google calendar is a simple FREE app you can use from your computer and on your phone.
My mom had a simple method. She used sticky notes on the bathroom mirror! Hey, we didn't try to change her. Mom was a major league organizer. You just don't mess with success!
3. Know Your Internal Time Clock. What time of day do you operate best? Early morning just as the sun rises? Later at night, when the kids have gone to bed? Make best use of the time of day that finds you more focused and energetic. Save the “mindless” work for times that your energy levels may be running low.
4. Set Priorities. Let's say you are more productive in the morning. Do you get up and spend an hour checking email? That may not be the best use of your time. Change it up. Identify the most important jobs to get done first. (Remember, you’re planning this all the night before.) What accomplishments will make the biggest impact on the success of your day? Focus on those tasks during high-productivity time.
5. Set Goals and Milestones. Goals keep us motivated. Goals give your work meaning and purpose. A milestone is simply a mini-goal. Milestones mark the path along the way.
Example: let's say you are writing a book. Some milestones might be to finish the outline and then finish the first draft. Next, edit the book. Milestones are like road-markers. They help keep motivation high. You have reached the goal when the whole book is written.
6. Be On The Lookout For Disruptions. The biggest productivity busters are those sneaky interruptions. You know, when the phone rings, your child knocks on the office door, or you glance at Facebook in the middle of a project. Ugh. Got to love them but so much time can be lost! Just be aware.
Guard your time. Hang up a "do not disturb" sign. If you are writing online, sign out. Write in notebook or a Word document, uninterrupted, first. That's right, leave the internet and WRITE! When it is ready to go, sign back on, copy and paste it into your blog or webpage and do your formatting. One of my friends is a very successful, high-earning blogger. She sets apart half a day every week to simply write. No internet. No distractions. It works!
7. Set a Timer. Using the timer on your cell phone, or better yet, a food timer will help you to stay on schedule. A food timer is better because you can turn OFF your phone! No distractions, remember? If you must complete your work by a certain time, setting a timer will help you to relax and stay in tune with the task at hand. Set it with a little "wiggle room" after it rings so that you are not rushing to your next appointment.
8. Keep a Pen and a Notebook By Your Side. If you are one of those people who always has ideas coming, instead of getting distracted by that new idea, jot it down in your notebook. This also works well when you remember something that you want to do or must do. Just jot it down on the paper and get back to the task at hand.
9. Schedule Admin Tasks for Down Time. Just like you have a more productive time of day, you also have a low-energy time when it is harder to stay motivated. That time is perfect for administrative tasks. For many, it is the afternoon. Catch up on paperwork. Set up your list for the next day. Now, leave it. Put your work aside and spend quality time with family and friends.
10. Skip “Perfect!” "Perfect" isn't real and perfectionism has robbed many a talented person of their productivity. You can get so hyper-focused on making every detail “just so” that the day will run away from you. So, get a lot done and go back later to fine-tune.
Reaching goals and milestones feels great and that free-time you are about to come up with is even better! My best advice – savor each moment.
As for me? I am about to take one of those free-time moments – pour myself a great cup of coffee and stare out the window at a beautiful blue sky!
What makes YOU most productive?
Share it with us in the comments!
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