How to be More Productive – 3 Steps

Almost everyone I know says they need more time.  Unfortunately, there isn’t any more time… BUT, there is good news.  By developing just a few new habits, you can become more productive and enjoy more family time, hobby time, leisure time, or time for whatever you want.

I’ve always been interested in productivity.  I remember  being a kid and thinking about it in the shower… “If I run the soap down one leg, and then up the other, I just saved the time of starting over at the top again on my other leg.”  Yes, I realize this is kind of silly, but I really did think of this.  Now, I didn’t call it “being productive”, nor did I even know what productivity meant, but I did understand the importance of utilizing time in a wise manner.

Perhaps this just means I’m lazy?  Maybe. but I do believe that my focus on being efficient and productive has served me well over the years.

Here are the 3 components to becoming more productive:

  • Focus.  I will often compare my work to my peers and measure how much time it takes me to complete tasks compared to them.  What I’ve found is that while I will “goof around” (or work on other things) for some period of time, usually until the last minute, once I get started on a task I don’t stop.  I don’t allow myself to be interrupted and I protect myself from distractions.   Many peers I’ve studied seem to take 2-3 times longer to complete the same task, but what they are really doing is mixing their “goofing off” time (or work on other things, distractions, interruptions, etc), with their work.  This causes them to stop and restart their work over and over again.    This lack of focus is causing a major productivity, efficiency hit.    I find that I’m much happier and my work quality is much higher with this extreme focus.   I don’t have to restart, find my place again, or get back into the groove (because I never leave it).
  • Prioritize.   This is huge.  Many people have a hard time knowing what to place priority on.   This really has to do with what is going to get you the most bang for your buck.     I always know what the number 1, 2, and 3 priority items are on my long lists of things to do.    So what is the measure of “most important”?   Good question.  This one is sometimes difficult to answer, but think 80/20 rule.  As far as productivity goes, you need to work on the items that will get you the most results.  If your boss is asking for 5 things from you, pick the one that the boss cares about the most (or the one that will make them look the best in front of their boss).   Just remember, %20 of your effort will produce 80% of the results.
  • Lists.  I make lists of things to do.    Here is the most effective way I’ve found to manage your priority tasks.    Make a list of your top 5 items you must complete.   Each day, work on the top item until it is done (or get as much done as you can before quitting).   Only then, move to item number 2, then 3, etc…   Each day, take the unfinished items and add the amount needed to get back to 5 items on your list.   You may find that the bottom three you didn’t finish today become the top items tomorrow, but often you’ll also find that they may remain low on the list because other things come up.  That’s ok.  Just take an honest look at the priority of each task and keep the top 5 with you at all times.

Of course, this may seem like an over-simplification, and there are certainly other tools, but these three things alone will help you get more done, faster, with higher quality.


How To Be More Productive

Time Management is a myth… Productivity is what we are really after when we say we need better Time Management skills. We can’t manage time, it just keeps on ticking no matter what we do. So we need to learn, and use, productivity skills.

I’m sure you would like to have more times for your family, friends, hobbies, or just relaxing. We all do, right? Well, in this article I’m going to show you how to do accomplish more (no matter if we are talking about work, household chores, or whatever), in less time. How to be more productive in anything, and everything, you do.

This is a simple, but powerful plan. I’m sure you’ve heard (and maybe even used) some of this before. There are no “secrets” to being a more productive person. There are a ton of books and products that teach productivity skills and everyone has their best way to teach you these skills… So, I’m not promising that my methods below are the very best, I’m just showing you the methods and processes that work best in my opinion.

Productivity starts with planning, and there is no better time to plan than ahead of time (duh, right?). So I start this plan, before you go to bed. You can use this plan every day, all the time, but it really starts with your time just before going to bed. Each night before bed take a few minutes to think about your goals and contemplate the actions needed to take you where you want to go in life.

Then, take out a 3×5 card (or an iphone app, or journal, or whatever works for you) and write down the top 6 things that will move you closest toward your long-term and short-term goals (more on Goals in a future post).

Write down these 6 tasks in order of importance (and in case this isn’t obvious, “taking out the trash” is not a proper task to move you toward your goals and should never be in your top 6 priorities). Put the list aside and go to bed thinking about you life as you will be in the future. Imagine it as if it is already the way you want it to be. Really think about all the details of your dream life, from how you dress, who you hang out with, what you do, where you go, what you eat, what your house looks like, what color your car is, etc, etc… The more detailed the better. Do this visualization exercise every night. Spend at least 15 minutes on this at the end of your day, Every Day!

I know, now you are saying… woah… I thought we were talking about Productivity here, what’s going on? I know, I know, but if you are going to be productive in the truest sense, and in a way that makes the most sense for YOU, then we must be spending your most productive efforts on YOUR GOALS. Not on your boss’s goals, not on the meaningless chores, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should ignore these other tasks… I’m just saying they are NOT your priority. There is plenty of time to fit these things in.

OK, so now you’ve created your list of prioritized tasks for the next day. You then went to bed visualizing your dream life as if is happening now. You felt it, smelled it, and saw it vividly in your head. You fell asleep peacefully and had fantastic dreams where your subconscious mind is finding ways to make it all happen and ways to make it all come together, right now.

Now each day, you follow the steps below to accomplish your greatest and most productive tasks (as planned the night prior).

  • As soon after waking as is possible, start work on Task 1 of your list.
  • Do not stop working on task 1 until is is complete (turn off the phone, close your email, remove all distractions.. this is important!
  • Move to the next task and do not stop working on it until it is complete (* or time is up, whichever comes first).
  • Repeat this process until all 6 tasks are complete.

Note: In some cases, you may need to set an appropriate amount of time to work on a task, as opposed to completing the task outright. That is fine… some of our biggest goals, require commitment over time. This is one of the best benefits of being more productive… You’ll accomplish your long-term, and most important and life-changing goals this way! Most people have great ideas and know exactly what needs to be done, but they lack the mindset and fortitude to stick with it for the long haul.

So, as simple as this seems, it is a very, very powerful tip. I hope you’ll use it starting today (tonight 🙂 ). If you do try these steps to be more productive, I hope you’ll please write a comment and let me know how this has helped your productivity overall, and your movement toward accomplishing your long-term goals. I suspect you’ll be well on your way to success (whatever you’ve defined as success for you)!

Make it a great day!

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