Productivity is one of the most used words in our vocabulary. It’s a quality that matters to both a business and the individual. Everyone wants to feel like their life has purpose, and productivity is a measure of whether or not you’ve applied yourself and have something to show from your day.
There are apps, books and careers dedicated to getting us to be productive and yet, the average person tends to trudge through their day and force their productivity to come out. It’s a chore, not a habit.
In a recently discovered blog called, TYNAN, the article, Why Obsess About Productivity?, got me wanting to pinpoint the key ingredients for productivity.
- Be Excited
This might seem obvious, but too many people are living a life that they simply aren’t passionate about. It’s no wonder why the daily tasks that make up their day are less than stimulating. For instance, if you like writing and yoga, these tasks will be easy. They make you happy, and with some intention, they’ll become habits. If you hate running and coding, these tasks will most likely take forever to finish, and even when you did manage to, it’d most likely be done badly.
So before you can change your day to become the better version of yourself, first decide if the way you’re spending your time is actually the way you want to spend it. Reflect over your day. Are you proud of your work, your hobbies, and your habits? If not, what else would you like to do? Zen Habits Leo Babauta gives this encouragement in his article, Letter to an 18-year-old on the Career Path Less Traveled, “Try a lot of things. When you get good at something, by the way, you’ll like it much more. You’ll suck at everything at first.”
Imagining change is scary, but the idea of doing something that makes you miserable just because it’s available is even scarier. You have one life. Get excited about it.
- Make your work a Sprint. Not a Marathon.
This advice comes from Jamie Herzlich’s article, “Small Business: How owners can reduce stress.” The concept is essentially to work hard and stay focused when you’re doing a task rather than attempting to work constantly and running out of steam.
Jeff Haden’s article “The 8-Hour Workday Doesn’t Really Work,” gave this advice, “Instead of thinking, “What can I get done in an 8 hour day?” I’ve started to think, “What can I get done in a 90 minute session?”
Also, Give yourself breaks after you finish a task and clear your head. This keeps you from “multitasking” for the sake of working, which usually equates to scattered, unproductive effort with little product. If you’re bogged down, try to stretch, walk, or laugh rather than sit in your chair and go on autopilot.
- Stop Rushing and Get Organized.
Have you ever been to a restaurant where your server was going nonstop? Did you enjoy the experience? Did it make ordering your food easier? Was your server even doing a better job?
Now imagine that your coworker rushes like this hypothetical server. Does working with a manic manager make you a better employee, or a scattered one? Most people would agree that it’s easier to accomplish a task and enjoy yourself while you do it if those involved stay calm and collected. This point is expanded upon in Will Yakowicz’s article, “Stop Rushing at Work: Stress Makes you Less Productive.” “The key is to plan and prioritize instead of being reactive. Being in control instead of being rushed helps your employees to stay calm, avoid stress, and be more productive.” The point: don’t rush your tasks, rank them.
On this same thought, you don’t have to respond to every email immediately. Instead, try to set aside a few times in your day to respond to all your emails at once so that you don’t lose focus on what you have set out to do.
- Stay Motivated
Now that you’re passionate, focused, and organized, the only thing you’ve got to do is maintain that energy. This is done by accomplishing the tasks you’ve set for your day and giving yourself the credit for these achievements. Whether it’s making a checklist and steadily eliminating your tasks, or the positive momentum you’ve collected from knowing that you’re having a successful day, recognize your pattern and repeat it with joy. Because you are now doing a job you love, and you’re doing it well.
Living the dream is possible. You just have to enjoy yourself and set your pattern.
Andy also wrote the book Change Your Day, Not Your Life, a guide to sustained motivation and more productivity.
See Andy's speaking schedule for an event near you.
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