Imagine what rewards can come your way if knew how to be more productive in your life. It takes a bit of discipline, but everyone can do it. When you are more productive, you do more. It’s like having a second pair of hands. It’s pretty straightforward maths – you do more, you get more back.
The big secret is to be focussed, be very clear about where you’re going and what’s most important for you. Following on from this, you need a process to clear the clutter, so you can tackle those big, important bits that will get you to where you want to be.
Productivity is the amount of something produced from a given number of inputs. Higher productivity means more production. Time is the limiting factor here.
It means that your own productivity is the amount of stuff you get done in a day. To get more done, you need to be more productive. And isn’t that exactly what your boss wants? Isn’t it what you want, to be successful?
If you don’t want to read the whole article – here’s the gist of it. To improve your productivity you have to be more focussed. Once you decide what’s most important, make sure you have enough time dedicated to those tasks. Don’t get swamped by the small stuff. It’s really that simple.
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If the secret to being more productive in your life is to be more focussed on what’s most important, you need to know what that is.
It’s always good to start at the finish. What are your goals? What do you want to achieve? Where do you want to end up? What are the activities or things that will move you closer to this?
It all starts with your to-do list. Let me guess – it’s big, right? And you know you can’t do everything on it. I’ve got about 3 months’ worth of activity on mine, it’s a weakness that I can think up more cool stuff to do than I have time for. But I treat this like a reminder. I know most of it will be there for a while and will be pushed onto the backburner. Sometimes priorities change, and what was just a good idea becomes more useful.
The trick to being more productive is to do more of the important bits and less of the others. Let them ride.
It’s easy to tackle the urgent, more insistent things first. Usually, these are not too hard to deal with, so by doing them first, you’ll have more time. We try to get them out of the way to reduce the noise, thinking this will help our focus. But then what happens? More small stuff turns up. It too demands attention. Somehow we get stuck on the treadmill and never quite get to the bigger, more important things. This short story is a beauty for understanding life balance. I thoroughly recommend. you read it.
When this happens, it feels like you’ve lost control. You’re spiralling down in a vortex to nothing. You can feel like you don’t have a chance to make progress towards your goals. This is dispiriting, but you can beat it!
In this article, I’m going to give you a few tips about how to be more focussed, which will lift your productivity.
Being busy is not the same as being productive
Being busy and on the go all the time does not mean you will achieve your goals. You are only productive when you are achieving your goals. Just because you are in constant motion doesn’t mean you are progressing towards your goals. Constant movement is not productive.
How many times do you get to the end of the day and feel like you have achieved nothing? It doesn’t feel great, does it?
To state the bleeding obvious, improved productivity comes from better time management.
My wife talks about the time she spends on Facebook as “going down the rabbit hole”. It’s too easy to spend a working day like this. Remember that there are only 24 hours in a day. Try to avoid the rabbit holes.
You also only have so many days alive in which to achieve the things you want. Time is not a limitless resource. Use it well – or lose it.
Being more productive is about how you use that time. And there are only two ways you can get more done. Only two ways you can be more productive.
The first (which I do not recommend) is to use more of your 24 hours working. Lots of people try this – less sleep, less social time, few or no hobbies, and little time for relaxation. Of course, it depends on how ambitious you are. For superstardom, these are the prerequisites. But it doesn’t have to be for everyone. Life balance is important.
The second is to work smarter – get more done in the time you do have. That’s what we want to talk about today.
It means more time spent focussing on the big, important things. Don’t let the small stuff consume you. You are better than that and deserve more.
Managing this is not that difficult. But it does take discipline. And focus.
The Three Secrets to Success
Secret #1 – Progressing towards something
First up, you need to have clear goals of what you want to achieve. If you don’t know what the big, important things are, you can’t focus on achieving them.
Two of my favourite quotes are:
“if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”; andAlice in Wonderland
“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else” .Yogi Berra
To make sure you don’t waste this precious resource, focus on what is important to your life. Being more productive means being more focussed. Stay focussed on where you want to get to.
Yes, to be successful you will have to work hard. But do it on the things that will get you where you want to be.
Secret #2 – Thinking your way through
Tackling big goals requires a series of smaller steps. To climb to the top of Everest, you need to make sure you have the skills, fitness, and financial capacity. Then you have to get to Base Camp before you start your climb.
Think through the big goals and break them into smaller, achievable pieces. Keep track of your progress so you know you’re getting there. Nothing succeeds like success, and achieving the smaller bits keeps you motivated.
Working hard without direction or focus can be a waste of valuable time and energy. Always consider your “why” before you schedule your time.
Consider how you currently spend your time and how you can be more efficient. Keep a journal for a week and record how you spend your time. In particular note how much time you spend on non-productive activity. Note how much to your longer-term goals.
This is a useful activity once or twice a year. Every time I do this, I am surprised at how much I have slipped into non-productive activity. It is a useful exercise to refocus yourself.
Then take a hard look at your to-do list and trim out the crap. Delegate or reassign where possible. Eliminate fringe tasks. Ask yourself “what will happen if this doesn’t get done.” If the answer isn’t much, then let it go.
Focus on the important, life-building activities. This is how to be more productive in life.
Secret #3 –Achieving a productive life balance
Rate each item on your to-do list for urgency and impact (or importance). Knowing that you’re not likely to do everything on your list, be selective about which items you will do. Urgent items need attention, but don’t let them consume all your time. Schedule enough time to make progress on the important things. Achieving impact will move you towards your goals much faster.
I find that spending the first hour or so of my day on the urgent, but easy to do things helps. There is a sense of achievement that gives me a more positive frame of mind for the day.
It reduces the size of my list and stops smaller items from becoming problematic later. There is less noise and worry of things pulling at my mind. By removing the noise and worry about these items, I am more focussed.
I find that by doing this I can concentrate my mind and energy on the bigger, more important tasks. This in turn makes me more productive.
The big secret to a successful and productive life is balance. OK, it sounds simple, but it is harder to manage than you think. Being aware of what is important and what is not is the starting point. Staying true to these priorities takes constant management.
Balance means nurturing every aspect of who you are, and of your life. There will be times when you need to dedicate yourself to one task. Make sure that this is a temporary need. Don’t let it dominate your life. Give it a time frame. When this time is over, regain balance by nurturing the other aspects of your life.
So if you want to be more productive in your life, remember that balance is the key. Remember that success is multi-faceted, and you need to give all aspects a chance to flourish.