What do you think of when you think about being more productive? Would you like to get more done in less time? Do you want to feel less overwhelmed by tasks that need doing?
Maybe it’s time to explore how you can change your current way of managing tasks in order to feel more energised, effective and focused on the things you’d like to accomplish.
What does it mean to be productive?
Personal productivity is about how efficiently and consistently you complete the tasks that matter to you. Productive tasks move you closer to your goals, and completing them should gradually help to reduce your stress levels.
Time spent being productive is not the same thing as time spent being busy. While it’s possible to be both busy AND productive, it’s very easy to get caught up in activities that take up your time and energy without actually moving you any closer to your goals.
Tracking your input vs. output
If you feel like you are constantly working, and yet, not getting things done at the pace that you would like, it might be time to track your activity.
Prepare to be honest with yourself and get a timer ready as you start on your tasks. Any time you do an activity that is not directly linked to accomplishing your tasks, stop the timer. This includes grabbing a coffee, rearranging your desktop, checking your personal emails, scrolling through your phone, and so on.
At the end of the day, divide the time you spent actually working on tasks by the time you spent being busy. Are the results surprising? Are they disappointing?
Roadblocks to productivity
What’s getting in the way of you dedicating 100% of your focus towards your goals?
Could you be self-sabotaging? If you’re worried that the result won’t be good enough, or that maybe for some reason you’re not worthy or capable of the end result, you prevent yourself from finishing to save yourself from some potential disappointment. For the same reason, you may avoid starting on projects altogether.
Are you never satisfied with your results so you spend too much time on tasks? Learning to let go of perfectionistic tendencies may help you to move forward at a more reasonable pace.
Or maybe you list reasons why you can’t be more productive (e.g. “I couldn’t do this because…” or “I don’t have time because…”)? Are they valid obstacles that require some problem-solving to resolve? Or are they excuses that mask your real reason for putting something off?
Strategies for improving productivity
Move out of your own way.
If you recognise that you self-sabotage, take too long making things “perfect,” or avoid getting started; it may be that you are your biggest obstacle. Challenge the excuses you give yourself as to why you can’t complete tasks in a reasonable amount of time. Are the reasons valid? Or are the reasons masking something else: perfectionism, a fear of failure, imposter syndrome, uncertainty over what you’ll do next, etc.? Once you address the underlying reasons for not being as productive as you would like, you’ll find that life gets much easier.
Productive individuals think differently than others. Ask yourself, “What’s the best way for me to get everything done today? What’s causing me stress and what needs to change so I can manage things better? What can I do to improve my productivity considering my current circumstances?” Focus on what you can control, then take action. Adapt a productive-person mindset by speaking to yourself in a way that builds you up.
Manage your time.
Organise your time in a way that makes sense to you, such as by creating visual aids or setting electronic reminders. Set strict guidelines for yourself about which tasks you’ll devote your time to and what tasks you won’t.
Identify time thieves.
Time thieves are the unproductive things that steal your time. Is it the apps on your phone? Constantly checking emails or taking excessive breaks during peak productive hours? What activities distract you but ultimately contribute nothing towards your goals? Try writing them down, then removing them, and see what happens.
Start with just one thing.
Think of one thing that if you changed it right now would have a positive influence on your productivity. Going to bed earlier? Hiring a babysitter for the day? Keeping your phone turned off? Think of which steps you can take to change this.
Today’s action steps
Write down all of the reasons why you feel you’re not getting things done as efficiently as you would like to.
Looking at your list, circle any ‘time thieves’ or anything else you have the power to change.
Write down one change you will make to limit a time thief. For example, "I will keep the TV turned off while I work".
Next, reflect on any excuses you may be using. See if you can identify the true, underlying cause for getting in your own way, then write down an affirmation that contradicts this. For example, if you think, “I’m not smart enough to do this,” your affirmation could be: “I’m good at what I do, and I’m the best person for this task".
Our world-class coaches on Hello Coach can help you stop making excuses and start getting things done.
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