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The Secret Recipe to Productivity

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 

Get Out, Have Fun, Be Happy… But be Prepared!

fitness motivational speaker

All last week I was running from fast approaching deadlines. After frantically typing on my computer hours on end, I finally reached a stopping point. I got up from my desk and headed into the other room for something. But only steps from my office- I stopped. What had I gotten up for? After a few moments of standing like a deer in headlights, I gave up and returned to my desk. However, I could not concentrate. The fact that in less than ten seconds my mind wandered off so far that it could not find its way back was bothering me. Before I could say “how could this happen,” I looked down at my desk. Spread out In front of me were three completely different projects, at my right was two full page “to do” lists and in the distance a radio was playing, dogs were barking and there was a maddening banging next door as my neighbors were getting their house re-roofed. My mind was cluttered with all that I was doing, as well as pressured with all that I needed to be doing. It was no wonder the smallest additional distraction could cause a mini mental meltdown. I needed a break.

My favorite break is to spend a little time hiking, biking or running on a trail with mother nature. As a professional speaker on work/life balance, stress and wellness, I live what I present.  Even when traveling and Keynoting for corporation and association meetings and conventions, I will search out local trails.

On the trail, when the conditions are right, I feel like I am moving through the woods like a predator on the hunt. When the conditions are right, Mother Nature’s sights, sounds and smells can force me to hum the soundtrack to “What A Wonderful Life.” When the conditions are right, even dodging my way through the strollers and skaters at the local park can be the best part of a good day. However, if the conditions are not right, time on the trail can quickly go from energizing and fun to frustrating and painful.

Last year, preparing for my usual Wednesday trail run, a cool breeze persuaded me to wear my favorite cotton pullover. Now cozy warm, I started down the trail on this beautiful, brisk fall afternoon and I felt totally energized. What I did not know was that this was as fun as this run would get. Only five minutes into the run I started warming up and realized I had made a typical early fall mistake. I overdressed. I pulled off the pullover and tied it to around my waist. But as soon as I started cooling off it started to sprinkle. This sprinkle quickly turned into the perfect storm. In moments, endless sheets of rain left me soaked and very cold. In an attempt to stay warm I put my pullover back on. The upside of this was I felt a little warmer, but the downside was the rain quickly enlarged this cotton garment to the size of a small circus tent. My shoes, now also soaked, started feeling a little “floppy.” This floppiness allowed my feet to move around in my shoes, which was producing a loud squeak with each step. This squeaking soon was joined by a burning sensation as blisters started to form on my heels and toes. As I limped back to the car, flopping, squeaking and trying not to step on my now six-foot sleeves, I felt like a demented trail running Bozo the Clown.

Being prepared for outdoor activity is only smart. Below are two simple, achievable actions that will help you be better prepared so you can get the most from your time with Mother Nature.

Step 1: Check the weather
I don’t know about your part of the world, but in Arkansas the weather can change quickly, especially in the spring and fall. With advances in technology and the Internet you can get up to the minute forecasts. I point my browser to my favorite weather site: http://www.wunderground.com.

Step 2: Wear “Wicking” Base Layer Clothing
The type of clothing you need can vary depending on the weather. However, wearing good base layer clothing is one thing that will help you no matter what the conditions. Base layer clothing is whatever you wear that is in direct contact with your skin; including shirts, underwear, shorts, socks, etc. Technology has helped us here as well. New man-made fabrics, such as Cool-Max and other performance fabrics, are fantastic for outdoor activities because they are very light, comfortable and retain their shape when wet. But the most important function of these fabrics is that they move (wick) sweat away from your body to the surface of the material where it can evaporate. Wicking moisture away from your skin will help your body better regulate its temperature in either hot or cold climates, reduce your chance of blisters and chaffing and increase your enjoyment immensely.

The next time your mind becomes cluttered with the responsibilities of daily life, be prepared, GET OUT! and let Mother Nature take the pain away.

 

Change Your Day, Not Your Life
A realistic guide to sustained motivation, more productivity, and the art of working well
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About Andy Core
Author and speaker on work-life balance, productivity and wellbeing
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