“What are the best ways to stay productive?”
is a frequent question that I am asked. There are a bajillion and 6 “hacks” out there that anyone will tell you. Firstly, you must establish, when where and how your body performs certain tasks, as we are all different. For instance, for me, I am most creative in the morning hours. If I need to set a creative-esque meeting, it is happening in the morning. Follow these 10 ways to be productive and accomplish more in your daily and weekly lives.
When that is known, these are the best practices I have encountered over my years searching for 100% efficiency…
1. Seek Clarity
How do you know where you are going if you don’t know what the end looks like? How do you know what do to get there if you don’t know where you are going? Most distraction and procrastination comes from not knowing what is most important. Seek clarity first before you start anything!
2. Establish Your “Rocks” for the Week
“Rocks” comes from a number of different thought leaders and is in reference to priorities. Essentially, the thought is you have a jar, and you have rocks, pebbles, sand. You need to put the rocks in the jar first, then fill in the rest with pebbles, and then sand to make it all fit in the jar.
I tell my clients to take your Weekly “To-Do” list and prioritize it (I know, everything is a priority – make choices; just do it). Count 1, 2, 3 – those are your Rocks for the week. Rocks are your most important, must do no matter what priorities in order to hit your overall goals.
Now do the same thing for the day – establish your rocks for the day in order to achieve your rocks for the week! Simple, right?
3. One Task at a Time
Multi-tasking is a lie! Your brain is not wired that way. You cannot focus 100% on multiple things at the same time and still get your best effort as a result. Won’t happen. Science says.
Focus on one task – when you have completed that one task to satisfaction, move on to the next task. Rinse and repeat.
4. Prioritize – Don’t Organize
Have you ever met the most organized person in the world? I bet you have one or two names circling in your head. I will bet you $20 they are also the most un-productive person in the world. There is such a thing as being too organized, or being too scheduled. What you should be is prioritized – using organization and scheduling as a tool to accomplish your priorities!
5. Don’t Work on Your List
Yes that isn’t a typo – DON’T be productive! Every single day you need to schedule “me-time” where you can relax and let your mind wander by not being productive. This is a reset and is absolutely necessary to be productive. Some call this practice mindfulness exercises – I color!
6. Block Your Time
Group like activities with other like activities. Try to schedule your days and your weeks like this so your brain doesn’t have to completely restart. Schedule all your sales calls during “Sales Time” on your block calendar. Ensure everyone around you is aware of your block schedule, and they respect it. Demand it!
If you can use one, use one! If you are choosing to not use technology when technology can actually make your life easier, you need to re-prioritize your priorities. Most if not all of these will link to your actual calendar and provide the prospective client or what-have-you with times you are available for them to choose what is easiest. You then get a notification and that is that! Sounds amazing, right? Get one.
Any good leader is a good delegator. Know what is worth your time, and what can be passed off. If you try to take on everything, nothing will get done. I’ve seen this happen too many times… delegate, delegate, delegate!!! … like to an auto-scheduler 🙂
9. Daily Habits
What are the things you do daily to make yourself more productive? Do you plan the night before? Are you waking up 15min earlier? Do you prioritize your rocks, and how you will celebrate when you complete them? What can you do during “me-time”??
This is, without a doubt, the most important aspect of being productive. You can do all of the things above, but without a routine, it will surely fall by the wayside and you will be left wondering why you aren’t being productive anymore. When you have a bad week or month, chances are what was missing was a routine. Look back at your last bad month and check. Did you stay committed to a routine the whole time?
A routine is a committed amount of time devoted to something – no matter what – and does not rely on enthusiasm or if you feel like doing something. Establish a routine, and stick to it. The problem is, is most people will get in a routine then will stop and get distracted. Avoid long-term distraction from your routine, and you will be the most productive you can be.
Science also backs productivity coming from routine. Your brain LOVES routine. It knows what to do daily, even hourly, and will get faster at your routine each and every day you do it.
The alternative to having a routine is waking up each day and seeing what you “feel like doing” and hope that works.