Being productive requires intense distraction free focus, which for most of us can be a challenge.
A coaching client recently asked if I could create a list of productivity practices to help them improve their ability to be productive, so John this is for you (and you of course)!
Here are my ten ideas for being highly productive. Grab a pen because you won’t want to miss these!
- Make a list (don’t bother checking it twice): It’s difficult for anyone to be productive without a clear list of what their priorities are. I’ve spoken in previous podcasts about my system for prioritizing your weekly, daily and hourly tasks. The key is to having a list that contains your top three (3) daily priorities and keeping the list in front of you at all times.
- Less is more: My point above may seem simple if you are like me – a natural born list maker. What’s crucial however is that you minimize your priorities to only two or three each day because realistically that is all you will ever accomplish. The theory of “less is more” is something that the most productive people employee.
- Minimize internal distractions: What to do about your internal voice, that’s the question. If you’re like most people you have a nagging voice that is constantly distracting. You must purposefully ignore this voice and talk back to it if you want it to subside. Consider for example that you are writing and suddenly you realize that you need to make a phone call. Rather than listening to that voice make a note of the thought (so you don’t feel the need to retain it in memory) and then tell yourself that you will make the call once you (insert goal here). It’s that simple.
- Minimize external influences: If you’ve quieted your inner voice, then you also need to ensure your environment is quiet. It’s impossible to work productively with distractions, so do what you can to minimize the noise. Turn your email off (including any symbols or noises that tell you a new email has arrived), keep your desk clear, put your phone on mute (with no vibrate option!) and tell everyone that you are in intensive thought and need privacy. If you want to minimize external distractions then you must make an effort to do so!
- Prioritize in color: When you look at your weekly priority plan, are you able to ascertain how your time is being spent in 1 minute? For some time I’ve been color coding my calendar (and idea that a colleague suggested) in order to ensure I am balancing my time in the right areas. Decide the key areas you need to spend time in weekly or daily, then use these colors to highlight those activities in your calendar. This provides a quick visual to ensure you are on the right track with how you are managing your time.
- Set your frame of mind (you can do it!): Are you convinced you can be productive? The most productive people I have met are confident in their ability to be productive – they don’t moan and complain about their inadequacies. You have to be convinced you will be productive if you truly want to be so. Make sure you are telling yourself the right story.
- Begin and end on a high note: Each morning I wake up and remind myself that “today is going to be a productive day.” Every evening I’m thankful for it being such a productive day. If you want to support the right frame of mind (#6 above), then start and end your days with the right message.
- Don’t think so much: There is a key factor that differentiate those that are productive and those that aren’t. The difference is in their ability (and intense desire) to take action. True they may make the odd mistake, but in reality they get twice if not three times more done then anyone else (so the odd mistake is forgiven!). If you have a tendency to think everything through – stop it!
- Next! I’m going to be honest with you… Sometimes I don’t have a productive day despite the best of intentions and efforts. I don’t let it get me down though, I just remind myself that tomorrow is a new day, a chance to try again. I call this the “Next” frame of mind.
- Challenge yourself: I’m confident that there are a few ideas here that are have or are trying to employ today, and a few that you’ve yet to integrate into your daily life. If you truly want to be productive, then you’ve got to challenge yourself each and every day to make that day the most productive day yet. What ideas above have you not incorporated into your daily routine? I “challenge” you to introduce one new idea from above every week for the next month and watch your productivity take off!
There is no need to be unproductive. What ideas are you going to take action on to improve your levels of productivity?