How to Become Productive in 15 Days (or less) …!
Something I see frequently in my line of business if that people do not finish the day feeling accomplished they end up judging themselves. Myself included from time-to-time. The pressure is on to be as productive as possible to get where we want to go. Often, we are our own worst critic and think that calling out our “laziness” or” inefficiencies” can lead to some sort of mindset-adjustment to get around the roadblocks to our success. First off … give yourself a break! If you want to increase your productivity, you have to make the decision to do so, stop being harsh to your self-esteem and starting implementing new ways and tools to improve your productivity. This will not only reduce time clutter and you won’t believe how much you will be able to accomplish.
So, to get you started and on the right track (away from those roadblocks) I am offering you 15 tried, tested and true strategies (yes, I use them all and know of many others who’ve implemented these ways successfully as well) that you can easily implement so that you can stop feeling “lazy” and start feeling more productive by getting more accomplished. For most, as a result, this will not only save time and reduce stress wrinkles but increase your businesses revenue.
Now, it’s time to dig in …
- Get plenty of sleep.
Getting 8 hours of sleep seems like a dream to most entrepreneurs. But if you think about it, sleep allows your brain to consolidate, process and refresh oneself. By not getting at least 8 hours each night, you are causing yourself problems with your level of concentration, organization and even your decision making. If you can’t fall asleep because your brain won’t turn off and it’s running through every single thing you want to accomplish the next day … see #4 or perhaps even a week or month from now … see #5, #6 and #7. These other tips will help you accomplish goal #1 … getting enough sleep!
- Wake up earlier.
With good reason – waking up early is a habit shared by majority of the world’s most successful people. In doing so, it adds time to get your most important tasks (business or pleasure) completed and allows you to get started on your work with a clear, alert and refreshed mind.
- Drink plenty of water and exercise daily.
Not drinking enough water or getting enough exercise harms both your body and your mind by impairing your energy and concentration levels. When you’re feeling like the day is dragging and making you sleepy, try a glass of cold water to refresh you and your focus. Same thing with exercise … I know for some of us the natural response is, “Who has time?” but by building this into your workday by stretching during breaks, taking a walk during lunch time and using the stairs as often as possible the long-term benefits will astound you. Especially for those of us who spend long periods of time sitting.
- Create your to-do list ahead of time.
The key word here is PLANNING and your productivity depends on it. Take it from me … a list writing “pro” and do not write a to-do list first thing in the morning no matter how tempting it may be. You will honestly tackle your to-do list much more effectively by writing it up ahead of time, the day before, as this give you time to mentally prepare for each task/project/goal. You will also save more time this way as you’ll already know what your day will present when you wake up so can just dig in and get started instead of planning around how you’re feeling or what you feel up to doing that day.
- Keep a planner with daily tasks/goals.
In today’s entrepreneurial world, it takes more than just a simple to-do list to keep track of everything you want/need to accomplish. It can be very easy to miss important tasks and get side-tracked by other projects/duties that arise. Keeping a planner that is filled with inspirational goals, projects, meetings, scheduled day’s off, etc. will allow you to more easily get everything your heart desires done and also reminds you of the long-term goals/plans you have set out for yourself. Now, in reality, this is just step one. Setting priorities to getting these things accomplished is step two. One way to do this is to sort goals/projects/tasks according to the impact they are likely to have in your business versus the effort it takes to complete them. Organizing your planner in this way can not only save you time but help you avoid spending energy on things that don’t yield much return. So, if you haven’t already … head off to your local craft or office supply store and pick out an annual planner that works for you. Something fun and something that suits your personality!
- Set realistic deadlines.
Deadlines are very important as they provide framework for us getting things done but can also be very intimidating. Remember to establish deadlines for yourself that are realistic and manageable given the goals/project at hand and the time available to you to accomplish. Try to build in some flexibility for dealing with anything unexpected that could float your way.
- Set goals for the day, week, month and year.
If you want to succeed, you need to set goals. Without goals you lack focus and direction then things tend to get messy, stressful and overwhelming. Goal setting not only allows you to take full control over your business’s direction, it provides a benchmark for determining your future directions. To accomplish your goals, you can’t just say, “I want” and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that requires careful consideration of what you want to achieve and ends with a lot of hard work to actually accomplish it all. To get the ball rolling, try to make a list of everything you’d like to accomplish in one calendar year. Then break that list down to your top 3 items. Take your top 3 items and break them down into a specific timeline of what you need to do to accomplish this goal and provide dates for each. Then plunk this all into your new planner. After adding your larger goals to your planner, you can now see where your top priorities lie and are able to plan out other items in and around them. Now, set yourself some quite time and go fill in those blanks!
- De-clutter and create a workspace you LOVE.
Studies suggest that a cluttered workspace increases stress, drains energy and hinders concentration. When your space is messy it makes your job even harder as it’s almost impossible to find things (I bet, wouldn’t know – have never been a messy desk person … “OCD”, LOL). Take a few quite moments to tidy up and clear your workspace before the end of each day or if you’d prefer, before you get started each morning. This is an easy and effective way to boost your productivity levels and create a workspace that you LOVE. So, after your done de-cluttering, take a note from someone who lives a life filled with colour and add some to yours! Make yourself feel even more energized (especially now that you’re getting the proper amount of sleep) and take some time to add some life to your space such as: good lighting, arranging your items the way you want them, adding picture or posters, use coloured post-its and fun pens, etc.
- Silence your phone and other online distractions.
In this day-in-age it’s hard to stay focus with notifications popping up from all our technological devices. This is something that easily breaks concentration and can make the tasks you’re trying to complete harder and possibly even take long. When you are working, turn your phone and other technology devices to “silent” and add a time to your schedule for returning emails, text messages and phone calls. Try your best to stick to this unless there is an emergency.
- Clean out your email … every account.
Email can sometimes be a distraction. Especially if it’s filled with old/useless information/contacts and distracting notices. Take a portion of a day to go through everything you have saved. Delete old contacts. Unsubscribe from any emails that are no longer relevant to your goals and interests. Create folder based upon information and/or contacts. Keeping your email clean is one of the most important things you can do to help your business grow and stay organized. If you are feeling overwhelmed and that you can’t take on this task there are many project managers or virtual assistants out there with skilled training in helping you get and stay organized. Don’t be afraid to tackle this or ask for help.
- Play music that motivates an inspires you.
Music influence is so strong that it has the ability to engage our body’s sympathetic nervous system. Research suggests that playing upbeat/motivating music can boost energy levels and stimulate alertness by huge amounts. Some studies even showed that it makes people work faster and engage more with others because of how happy they were feeling. Looking to find out more on how to get music to motivate your workday? Check out a previous blog post of mine from October … Music Inspires Motivation.
- Focus on one thing at a time, time yourself, work in intervals and take planned breaks.
Doing just one thing at a time helps you remember more, get more done in less time, brings more attention and focus to the task at hand and helps you work smarter, instead of just harder. It’s worth the struggle a hundred times over. Also try to work in timed intervals rather than long stretches as this way will improve efficiency as well as concentration. Set a timer to help pace tasks and remind you to take a break, move around and re-focus. When talking planned break, also choose a time for a break to catch up on social media. Even though most of us are using these platforms for business related tasks checking your accounts throughout the day consumes a lot of time and can break your level of concentration. So, set aside some social time when the time is right!
- Use tools for workflow improvement.
Technology sometimes has a bad reputation. However, one of the greatest gifts it ever gave society is the ability to gain access to any and every resource imaginable. In addition to the virtual container of the internet, I wanted to share with you a short – in no particular order – list of my absolute favourite, just – can’t -live – without software apps and resources. It is my hope that these will be able to assist you in your process of gaining a clutter-free work life … Virtually Untangled’s “TheVault” page.
- Take note (physically) of your weekly achievements.
Seeing your accomplishments on paper can put things into perspective and keep you focused on your goals/projects/tasks. Set a time at the end of each week to create a list of your achievements, both large and small, for a boost in confidence and motivation.
- Reward yourself – you deserve it.
Go ahead. Reward yourself. You deserve that special treat. And not only by getting to experience that “special treat” (mine is usually food related, LOL) you reinforce positive feelings and keep yourself motivated and what I like to say, “moving onward and upward”. Just try your best to make sure these rewards are meaningful to you as well as on the healthier side of things.
Now tell me … what tips and tools do you plan on using to be productive this year?
I would love to hear all about it so please feel free to share them here in the comments on Virtually Untangled’s Facebook Page.
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