7 Keys to Productivity
We all have 24 hours in the day. So how do some people, especially successful people do so much?
Sometimes I think successful people just lounge around basking in their own glory, but no. I’ve listened to so many interviews of successful people and also read stories about so many that I know that most of my thoughts about them are not true.
Successful people are the ones who probably get less sleep than me, wake up earlier (mm.. maybe not that. I wake up pretty early) and work out more frequently than I do.
But, I digress, we all have the same amount of time but how do the successful people get it all done? Here are some things I have discovered for them... and for myself - even though I know I have a long way to improve in this area.
1 | Wake up early
I did hint at this in the preview, but many times an early riser accomplishes more, is more focused and gets more done in the time of the day than those who wake up around 8 or 9 am. Even though it’s a drag to get up, I normally wake up around 5. I have to leave for work by 6 but even if I give myself 20 extra minutes to do a devotion or some yoga, I find that it makes for a more productive and alert day the earlier I wake up.
Giving yourself some extra time in the morning to ease into the day also gives you control, meaning if you're late and running out the door you feel out of control. I hate that feeling of being late before the sun has even come up. So I decided to break out of that cycle by getting up earlier, I make a good breakfast and give myself the pleasure of taking my time.
I highly recommend eating breakfast along with getting up early. The morning food will wake up your brain and get your metabolism going even if you’re tired and want to go back to bed. And also drinking a big glass of water is so good for you in the morning.
2 | Time-block
I have to admit, this one took me the longest to adopt because I didn’t like the idea that my whole day was outlined. I like being spontaneous throughout my day, but once I implemented time-blocking I found that I got so much more done because everything was scheduled and when I have things outlined it easier for me to do them.
Especially when you know you only have a certain amount of time for things. If you’ve allotted a half an hour to work on something, you’ll get a lot more done knowing you have it scheduled and other things to do afterwards.
It can take some getting used to, but it’s so helpful. Some people use Google calendar to do their time blocking. I’m a little old-fashioned (I LOVE writing things down with paper and pen). I made an excel sheet, printed it out and write in everything. Then I highlight the time I have to work on my fun projects (like R Artspace stuff).
3 | Get specific
I found that when you get super specific it propels you to do the task at hand. When I write in my day log that I need to write a blog post, it’s a little ambiguous and can leave me staring at a blank open document on my computer screen for 20 minutes if I have no direction.
But when you say you’ll write a blog post later when you get home, brain storm throughout the day and see what comes to you. Sometimes I can come up with 15 ideas by just letting myself think through topics. When you narrow your focus to “write a blog post on productivity” it helps you hone in on all things related to productivity and can save a lot of time.
And whenever I’m thinking of ideas for blogging or project ideas, I always write it down. You never know when you could use your thoughts on a certain topic. I normally like writing things down by hand but I found that I lose the sticky notes I wrote things down on so now I use my iPhone, just in the notes section I made a section called “Blog Post Ideas” and at work whenever I think of something I whip out my phone and jot it down. It definitely comes in handy! Or if you’re an artist, same can be done here.
4 | Write a (small) To-Do List
This is similar to time-blocking cause you’re writing out things to do, but for me I write goals I want to accomplish for the week. At first I was writing long lists of 5 to 10 things and when I found I couldn’t complete them I would get frustrated and disappointed and then end up watching Netflix the rest of the night.
The key is to write 2-5 (realistic) goals you could actually accomplish in the week. Then, when your list is shorter and you accomplish them it gives you the confidence and encouragement of getting all your tasks done in one week and it will give you more motivation to continue this practice.
Recently I’ve narrowed my list down to one main thing, but then divided that main thing into 3 or 4 actionable steps and then as I get them done I can check them off. For example, I’m currently working on a brand design and my main goal is to do the design, but I broke it down to 1) Create Logo 2) Create secondary logo for brand 3) Finalize inspiration board 4) Do styled shoot for brand. These little steps give me direction and help me put that huge task into something bite-sized that I could do in a week or less.
5 | Keep your priorities in tact
I’ve witnessed first-hand how a business can consume someones life. Something I’m very aware of is making sure my business isn’t the most important thing to me. I have my priorities, I know what they are, and I make sure my business is right where it should be in importance and attention.
And for me this means, taking a day off to not do anything related to the business and to make sure I spend time with my husband and friends. Even though I am in the beginning stages of growing my business I want to start this practice early on so that when things get crazy I have a pattern in place.
This is really a priority check to make sure the people who are closest to you aren’t getting the shaft while you spend hours upon hours in front of your computer screen or working on your side hustle. While this is near to dear to my heart, I know that some people can and want to devote all their time and attention to their business - and that's great if that's the priority. But for me, people come first and I try to keep that in the forefront of my mind.
6 | Streamline your process
Depending on your business type this can look different for everyone. For me, with my branding process, this took the form of several things.
For one, I started implementing Trello which has been SO helpful because I can stay organized and I have all my items in one spot. It also let's me attach files so I can just go to the card and click on the file, rather than searching for it just in my finder.
Asana is also a great project management tool that I have just scratched the surface with but it has great capabilities when with working with team members and staying on task.
I'm currently searching for a system for bookkeeping, invoicing, and contracts. Once I have one in place it will just continue to help me streamline even more which can save so much time.
But no matter your business model or your business stage, you can always benefit from putting systems in place that can help your business run more smoothly, so you can easily onboard clients, keep track of projects, and get paid faster.
7 | Reward yourself
This is important. If you have reached a milestone, if you’ve landed a client, if you’ve checked off your to-do list for the week - you should celebrate. Reward yourself with something that makes you happy.
I think this is important because it helps you enjoy the process more of working and working and then, once the work is done, rewarding yourself with something that means something to you.
I’ve heard it said, you can think of ways to reward yourself using the 5 senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. So sight: watching a romantic comedy or your favorite Netflix series. Hearing: listening to music that is pleasing to you. Touch: a bubble bath with lavender salts. Smell: lighting a candle of your favorite scent (like, pine needles!) and Taste: letting yourself indulge in some dark chocolate. Whatever the case may be it’s always a great thing to reward yourself for a job well done. It will give you something to strive for and it will reenforce the cycle of doing something well and getting rewarded.
If you’re looking for ways to get or keep yourself productive I recommend these tips very highly and I hope to hear how much your productivity has improved!
What are some practices you've used to improve productivity?
Is being productive a struggle for you?
What are some things that could help you be more productive?