How do you ensure your productivity, not only in your professional life, but also your personal life? Here are some easy productivity tips that I’ve learned (and somewhat adapted) from Brian Tracy‘s Self Discipline series that could help you out:
Before shutting down for the day, make a list of the items you will accomplish the next day and prioritize them, 1 being the top priority through whatever number you have. Have a few competing top priorities? No problem – use letters to sort through which needs to be accomplished first, 1A being your top priority, 1B being the next item, and so on. Does this system not work for you? No worries – choose one that you’re comfortable with that satisfies the same premise: prioritizing what you need to get done so that you have a road map for the next day. Planning ahead is essential to upping your productivity game; however, sometimes it’s hard to shut off your brain when you have all these to-dos swirling around your head. If this is the case, check out my guide to stop the nightly mind race.
Here’s the trick – do the hardest or most significant item first; it should be your top priority. Why is that? After you’ve completed it, this will provide you with a great sense of accomplishment and fuel your appetite to continue down the list.
Another trick for upping your productivity game, and not as easy – don’t do things that aren’t on the list. “But, Kirsten, my boss just came over to my desk and there’s a fire I need to put out” etc. I hear you and that will often times mean that you have to vary from the list, which is OKAY. We all have things come up that are unplanned and need to be taken care of. What is NOT OKAY is to stray from the list after that fire has been contained, or to simultaneously work the list (if the fire allows).
Can you put out the fire and continue down your list while you’re waiting for someone to call you back? Can you re-prioritize your list to still get everything accomplished? What does that look like?
Really, what sticking to the list boils down to is prioritizing your time so that you’re not idle: on Facebook, looking at what everyone else is doing; gossiping with whoever at work. These activities don’t add value and make you less productive. Are you a social butterfly like myself? Awesome – map out times that are convenient to you and your list to connect with others. Write down on your list who to connect with and what to connect about. Give yourself a time limit until you get the hang of it. Remember, there’s always breaks and lunchtime that can be used to strengthen personal relationships with your coworkers.
These same sentiments carry through to your personal life. Make a To Do list the night before of things that need to be accomplished the next day. Do you have a room that needs to be cleaned out, loaded up, and brought to Goodwill? Write it down. Do you need to call and connect with family? Write it down. Is it crucial that YOU do it, or is there someone at home that can help you? Again, let this be a guide for getting the things done that you need to as well as deterring from non-value added activities that take up copious amount of time (like binging on Netflix seasons).
If you’re like me, taking time to get in the habit of writing the To Do List can seem mundane and obnoxious, but seriously – it will save you a lot of time, up your productivity game, and provide a list of all of your daily accomplishments. Who doesn’t want a visual list of how awesome they are every day? Also, this can be a huge help to those of you who feel like you can never get everything done, or that there aren’t enough hours in the day.
To those of you struggling with productivity, I would say to look at your process – what are you doing to prevent yourself from successfully completing items that will make you feel accomplished and productive? Focus on cutting those areas out, or finding better approaches to dealing with them by finding alternative ways that maybe you haven’t tried before. Resources are wonderful – ask others how they stay productive and manage their time throughout the day. Maybe you have to delete your social media apps from your phone and only rely on time outlined on your computer, who knows! Figure out the best way that works for you, your situation, and your life.
Until next time,
Kirsten Ebey, MSA
Kirsten is the owner of Path to Summit LLC, a small business coaching firm in the Greater Denver Area. She works with small businesses to understand ROI potential, and find creative ways to achieve better business efficiency, increased profitability, and stable work-life balance.