What does productivity mean to you? Yes, it is about getting things done, but more importantly it is about getting the right things done at the right time. It is also about making decisions. I am sure you know the feeling of being busy all day long only to wonder at the end of the day what you actually did. Being busy is not necessarily being productive. Today’s reality is that we are constantly being bombarded by stimulus (ex. cellphones, internet, social media, news, blog posts, emails, texts, electronic billboards, pop up ads, etc.) we have to be vigilante that all that stimulus doesn’t distract us from the important things. It’s a bit like that dog in the movie UP that yells “squirrel” and runs off after another distraction.
According to two online dictionary definitions, Productivity is “the quality state or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance or bring forth goods and services.” Or it means you “do a lot.” Both of those sound like being a robot; preprogrammed to action without thinking about whether or not what we are doing is important. How do you avoid that?
- First step is to set clear boundaries. That word has been overused somewhat but if you think of yourself with a fence around you and only one gate to get in that you control you will get a better idea of what I mean. All this outside stimulus just finds its way to our attention which takes our focus off of the important things or even just the things we want to do. With you in control you get to open the gate and let in only that which is important to you at the time. Or you can be standing in the middle of an open field with no fence and have all that “stuff” assault you from every direction. Which would you prefer?
Ways to set boundaries:
- Handle or prevent those interruptions that you can control and find a way to limit or cut short those that have you at the mercy of someone else.
- Turn off your alerts and decide when you will be available.
- Check email three or four times a day, not constantly
- Decide if “x” is worth your time, energy or effort before you say yes. Sure, you may want to do it all but at what price?
- Make/take time for yourself
- Taking care of yourself is the next key. I understand you want to do all and be all but you can be of no help if you become ill or feel resentment. Self-care means making the time to exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, socialize and do the things that lower your stress level. Being organized makes your life easier too, why do things the hard way when you don’t have to?
- Create morning and evening routines that serve you that include a specific bedtime and wake up time.
- Filter out the extraneous stuff. Let go of commitments you are no longer interested in or are of a lower priority.
- Set aside some time for yourself. (Sometimes that means locking the bathroom door – do whatever it takes).
- Organize so that you have efficient systems to handle the everyday stuff. Your home needs to serve you, not make your life more difficult. Make sure you can find what you need quickly and return it to that place when you’re done.
- Choose wisely grasshopper, as you are trading away time that can never be regained.
- Planning and Prioritizing will keep the important things on the top of the list. Having a plan will keep you on track. By creating your list the night before you have time to think about how important those tasks are to you. Without a plan your day can go in any direction but often it is not the direction you want it to go in. Priorities should be based on your goals and dreams as you work towards creating the life of those dreams.
Ways to Plan and Prioritize:
- It’s okay to not be able to do it all – some things should never be done, and some can easily be put off as long as you are the one that decides. Delegate what you can.
- Prioritize tasks in a way that honors who you are.
- Schedule in even the tiniest tasks. If you color code your calendar you can see where the majority of your energy and time is going.
- Estimate how long you think a task will take and then time yourself. Don’t forget to include commuting time, prep time and clean up time.
- Be realistic in the amount you can accomplish in one day. Start small and build your momentum by getting the higher priorities or the more distasteful (but important) ones done early.
Keeping these keys in mind will help you live the life you dream of. Good luck.