Being productive is probably one of the most important skills to perfect in life. If one is productive then his or her life opens up to a myriad of opportunities. Being productive and being smart with your time means that you are in control of your life because you can fit everything in it. But the quest for perfection is not easy and to strike a balance between what works and what not varies from person to person. There are many techniques, but here are some of the ones that consistently have been adopted by really productive people.
Some of the most successful business people, such as Anthony Robbins and Sir Richard Branson, always start their day with a routine and exercise. Waking up early to fit some exercise in your day, will set you on the right path because exercises prompt your body to release endorphins, clear your mind and help you to stay focused longer.
Outcomes and plan
The first step in starting your day right is always about planning. Whether you plan day by day or weekly or by projects, your outcomes should be clearly defined. If the outcomes of your day are clear, then you’ll be able to plan around it, prioritising the tasks that will allow you to achieve what you set out to achieve. It goes without saying that the outcomes for the day normally revolve around the outcomes for the week, or for the project you are working on. It is rare that a day will stand by itself without a grand plan. So plan what you would like to achieve on that day and focus on tasks that will bring that to fruition.
(oh I do love Anthony Robbins!): Chunking is probably the best way to start your day (or week) especially if your life does not entirely revolve around work (if it does you need to re-check your personal priorities and goals!). When you have to fit school, children, work, family, health and fitness (and many more) in one day, then chunking is the way to go. First you start with a capture list where you write everything that you need to do, including picking up laundry and going to the gym. Then you divide the tasks into categories such as finance, health, family, admin etc. This way your long list of tasks has suddenly become a more manageable number of categories which you slot into your day.
How to deal with the unexpected
Every day brings something unexpected, well if not every day maybe most days. What do you do when that happens? Go back to your outcomes and if the unexpected task will help you achieve your outcomes then slot it in. If it doesn’t then you should think whether it is an urgent and important task or not. If it does not enhance your outcomes and it’s not important, deal with it another day, but do put it in your diary so you will not forget and it will not show up again as an emergency. If you have to do it immediately then slot it in your day and move another task to another day of the week.
Make friends with time
(thank you Marie Forleo for this tip! It’s awesome) We are always lamenting the lack of time and how time slips away yet we know we cannot do anything about it. So instead of fighting it, make it your friend. When you treat time as your enemy your relationship with it cannot be good, just the thought of time will simply bring pain and frustration. Instead start treating time right, start thinking about time in positive terms. It will make a huge difference in the way you approach your day and time will be on your side.
No fail attitude
In order to be productive you need to take your commitments seriously. You should never let distractions such as e-mails or messages or even phone calls distract you from your focus. Don’t let any doubts cross your mind. If you don’t take yourself seriously then who will? So stick to that schedule, the one you prepared either first thing in the morning or the night before and see how productivity flows.
After you work hard all day it’s great to reward yourself for the job well done. Don’t forget to do it and to relax in any way you like.
Go with the flow
Allow for the odd day, but just the odd day, when things are simply not going to plan or you are not on top form. That’s when you go with the flow and surrender. Yep there are days like that. They should be rare but they do happen. When that’s the case, smile and plan for the next day.