Sometimes, when you aren’t being as productive as you want to be, it is hard to put your finger on the reason. Here are some tips that might help you identify what may be holding you back:
What should you not be doing?
Over time, we become progressively less productive because we let a bunch of things that have become unproductive take over our time. It was probably serving a purpose when you started doing it, but over time, it lost its value and you’ve just kept doing it because you’ve always done it.
Consider what you are doing that is no longer necessary and stop doing it.
Are you following your priorities?
What are the highest priorities in your life? We call this your North Star List. If you want to be productive, you need to ensure that you are only doing things that support your priorities. As a matter of fact, we’ve even done an episode just about this topic: The Foundation of Productivity is Priorities.
Recognize that mindset can impact your productivity. Have you ever said this:
I can’t get everything done, there just isn’t enough time.
This is a mindset issue. When I catch myself saying this, I change my words to:
I don’t need to get everything done, just the next thing.
Take away the power that the thought has over you.
Become aware of the mindset that is impacting your productivity.
We all multi-task. It is a vital part of the world we live in. What we need to become better at is learning how to determine when the multi-tasking that we are doing has become unproductive.
Productive multi-tasking is when the completion of two competing tasks don’t require your focus. For example, listening to a podcast while working out. You can do both without detriment to either. Generally, you do not need to focus on the treadmill in order to walk on it. That leaves your focus on the content of the podcast.
Unproductive multi-tasking is when the completion of two different tasks at the same time results in one or both of the tasks suffering. Answering email while on a conference call is an example. When you are focused on answering email, you aren’t listening to the conference call. Both things – reading and listening – require focus.
Examine your multitasking habits. Which ones are not serving you well?
Have you ever had a bad day, where it seemed like each little thing that happened pushed you further and further toward the edge of the cliff and then eventually – BAM – you were over the edge?
Its happened to all of us. But, what I’ve noticed is that some people reach that edge much more quickly than others. Some people are able to recover much more quickly than others.
Why is that?
I believe that it partially has to do with the amount of reserve the person has.
Here is a simple example:
You have $32 to your name. When the car all of a sudden stops starting and you find out it will cost $500 to fix it, that is a lot of stress. You had no reserve – in this case, of money – to be able to handle the stress.
If, instead, you had $,1000 in the bank and you had the same issue – it may still be stressful, but it doesn’t send you over the edge. You had a bigger reserve, which means that your better able to deal with the stress of the event as well as recover from it.
The idea of reserve doesn’t just apply to money. You also need a reserve of:
Listen to our episode on creating a North Start List
Time blocking is a time management method where you put blocks of time on your calendar in order to make sure you can get things done. It seems pretty obvious and straight forward, yet most people don’t do it. We let the urgent, non-important things get in the way of the non-urgent, important things.
The process is simple: when you have something you need to get done by a certain deadline, back up from the deadline, and block time on your calendar to work on it. If you think it is going to take 8 hours to complete, block 8 hours of time on your calendar. It doesn’t have to be one 8 hour block. It could be eight 1 hour blocks, but the key is to make sure you’ve blocked enough time in advance of your deadline to get it done.
Then, you’ve got to honor the blocked time. You can’t snooze or ignore it and spend your time replying to emails. You’ve blocked the time for something that is important, so take care of the important item you have planned, and let the non-urgent stuff wait until later.
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