Do you struggle to complete what you need to do every day?
Is it a battle to find the time to do the things you love?
Are you frustrated because your to do list gets longer instead of shorter?
Do you feel like you are not producing the things in life that are important to you?
Have you had the same big projects on your list for months and months?
Do you feel like you’re constantly taking 3 steps forward and 5 back?
Rest assured, you are not alone! As a Certified High Performance CoachTM productivity is definitely something my clients, whether they are CEO’s, entrepreneurs, moms or dads all want help with and is something that I cover in depth in my coaching program.
This is however not a new topic. In fact there is an abundance of information on it. Yet for some reason, people are still not applying this information and as a result are remaining stuck with the same frustrations and lack of results.
It’s time to change that for you! And I’m going to help you. As with everything else I do, I’ve taken a slightly different approach to this seemingly frustrating topic for most.
Firstly, I help my clients find systems and strategies that work for them and not the other way around. No two people are alike and so we cannot expect that any one strategy or tool will work for everyone. It needs to be personalized!
Secondly, I approach this topic from not one but three different perspectives. As a result I believe you will have a greater probability for truly mastering your productivity so that you don’t just get things done, but you CONSISTENTLY get the most important and significant things done – the things that are going to change your life and move it forward…. and get them done with greater efficiency and less stress so that you are even more productive and successful.
So let’s dive into this topic by addressing the 1st P of productivity, the PRACTICALITY of productivity. This is probably the area you are most familiar with but also most likely not consistently implementing.
Here are my top 10 PRACTICALITY strategies for improved productivity – any of which you can start implementing immediately and all of which will have a definite impact on your life! The key here is to pick the ones most relevant and suitable for you right now and then DO them consistently, whether you feel like it or not!
1. Create a daily action plan
You can do this either first thing in the morning after you’ve been through a recommended morning routine (see #3) or at the end of your workday but never just before going to bed. Regardless of when you decide to do this you will start each new day knowing exactly what you need to do. To create your daily action plan you need to of course know what your major goals, projects and priorities are and what the various actions steps are in order to move these forward. For example, let’s say one of your major goals is to run a 10k race. Some of the steps needed to move this forward would be to find a training program, register for a race, buy running shoes, do your daily training etc. All of these steps would need to be on your action plan, just not all on the same day of course. In addition you will need to include any other errands and responsibilities you need to take care of each particular day on your action plan – for example groceries, kids activities, medical appointments etc. Find a tool to do this that works for you. For me, it’s good old-fashioned pen and paper.
2. Prioritize your action plan
Only put on your list what you absolutely have to get done each particular day. Consider what you can delegate or safely put off to another more convenient time. And do not overload your daily action plan. Consider how many things you realistically can get done in a day given all the demands on you. The goal is to complete everything on your action plan every day!
3. Start your day with some time to yourself
This should include time to meditate, journal, reflect on and visualize your day and wins you will have, have a nourishing breakfast, exercise and ideally take some time to read something inspiring! I know you may thinking “how am I supposed to do all this when I can barely get myself out the door on time now”! Go to be earlier, get up earlier and start with even some of these activities even if you are only spending a few minutes on each. It will absolutely change the way your day unfolds. Starting your day calmly and incorporating these elements is the best way to set yourself up for a productive and proactive day. The studies on this on solid and compelling!
4. Manage your email (and social media) habits
Be strategic in when and how you check your emails. Don’t check emails first thing in the morning unless this is your actual job – if it’s not, doing this will hijack your day and mind – you will be reactive and distracted versus being proactive and focused. Ideally wait until later in the morning to check your emails and then just respond to or send out emails that serve you and moving your projects forward – leave all others for later in the day once you have completed what is on your action list for the day. This may be hard at first but you must make yourself a priority. No one else will! And when it comes to social media – really pay attention to how much of your time it is sucking up – you may have to set time limits on that as well.
5. Reduce clutter
Mess creates stress; your outer world reflects your inner world. A messy workspace will lead to you feeling disorganized and sluggish and will ultimately reduce productivity. So make sure you organize your desk, home or work space to ensure you get things done!
6. Eliminate ALL distractions
This is critical and especially important if you work from home. Identify what or who is distracting you, what is taking your attention away from what you want and need to do? Define it, decide what to do about it and then take appropriate action!
7. Time block
Set aside blocks of time to ensure you accomplish what you need to each day. It may be to respond to emails, workout, help the kids with homework, complete a report etc. Make sure to also block time for the tasks that will move your major goals forward. For example if you are trying to write a book then you need to block time to do that! And then during your blocked time only do what that time is allocated for – do nothing else – no calls, no emails, no multi-tasking – just stay focused on the allocated task.
And don’t forget to block off time for rest and recovery – book regular vacations or a weekend get-away, even some daily down time.
This may all seem extreme and excessive but I can promise you this is what the most successful, productive and high achieving people in the world all do! This is how they get so much done in the same 24 hours you have.
Look at all you are trying to do and ask yourself the following:
Do I need to be doing all you are?
Can someone else do it better?
Does it even need to be done?
Focus on your strengths and where you can be most effective. Work smarter not harder.
9. Say No
In most cases you ultimately have a choice in what you take on, especially personally and socially so always consider the cost-benefit ratio of what you say yes to. By saying yes to someone or something else you are inevitably saying no to yourself. So get comfortable with saying no whether it is an outright no or a no not now – either way be ok with this.
10. Use “off” time strategically
By “off” time I mean times like your daily commute, waiting for appointments, picking up the kids from school or extra murals etc. Have work with you, listen to audio books, catch up on personal calls – try and utilize this time as opposed to letting it go to waste.
I know this is a “big” list to take on! My suggestion, as I mentioned before is to decide which of these strategies would serve you best right now. Pick a couple and then being implementing them immediately. Once you’re consistently applying them, start adding in the others over time and watch your productivity soar!
Remember knowing these strategies are not good enough! You need to be doing them consistently!
So how many of these things are you doing?
What will you start doing today?
In Part 2 of this 3-part blog series I’ll share with you the 2nd P of Productivity so definitely stay tuned!
Until next week – embrace your inner truth, live your purpose and make your contribution in the world.
With gratitude and appreciation,