“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” ~Tony Robbins
Being productive feels good. On those days that I manage to do all the things on my excessively long to-do list, I just feel amazing. But then, there are those days where I don’t quite hit the mark, and I find myself feeling less than stellar.
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I love my work, and though I occasionally have a tendency to take on too much, I still keep plugging–most days. And then, there are those days where I just feel like I can’t get anything done. What about you?
Do you ever feel like your productivity level is slipping a bit?
Maybe you thought you’d get four projects done today, but you completed only two. You ask yourself where the time goes and you’ve noticed you’re feeling disappointed in yourself and how you perform at work or at home.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone–this is all part of being human. But there are some simple things you can do to increase your efficiency and get more out of your life.
Hit the ground running. Be ready to go to work as soon as you arrive, whether you’re commuting an hour to your corporate job or 10 steps to a home office.
Using the example of work, visualize yourself on the way into the office, and then think about what it’s going to be like when you get there. Do you have three large stacks of paperwork to do? Articles to write, research to do? Phone calls to return?
Think about what you’ll do first. Perhaps you can complete that project you started last Friday with just a couple more hours of work. Put your mind ahead of your body’s arrival so you can get started quickly.
Learn to anticipate. When you consider what will be happening next, you’ll be ready to meet whatever challenge is occurring at the time.
For example, at home, you might think, “I know the kids will be hungry for a snack. I’ll get out that fruit salad from yesterday and give them glasses of juice right away so I can get to the laundry.”
Anticipate what might happen, and have a plan.
Develop a method of keeping track of tasks that works for you. Whether it’s speaking your list into your smartphone, jotting down things to do in your calendar, or carrying a spiral notebook, having a running list to look at or listen to will help you get more things done.
For me, it’s all about Google Calendar–I can have multiple, color-coded calendars in one, and I can share various calendars with various parties. In my case, I have a personal calendar as well as various work/editorial calendars, among others. All sync to my phone, and for the really important stuff, I set reminders to help me remember–sometimes several.
Whichever method you choose, be sure it’s convenient and works for you. Having some way to check-off items is helpful so you can tell at a glance which tasks you’ve completed and which ones remain–this also increases your sense of accomplishment and can help encourage you to keep on keeping on.
If you don’t already have a calendar or task manager tool in place, try a couple of methods until you find the list that’s easiest for you to use. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. Just find something that fits in your life and go with it.
Politely tell others you don’t “have a minute.” If you’re at work and people stop by your office to chat, feel free to say, “I’m sorry. I can’t talk right now but I’d love to have lunch today and hear more about this.”
When you don’t allow yourself to be interrupted, you can get a lot more done. Plus, others learn to avoid interrupting your work time.
On that same note, remember that you are not Superman or Superwoman, and that you have the right to say no, sometimes. For example, in my case, I might need to push back a deadline or explain that my schedule is too full to be on that committee or to plan that party.
I’m not going to lie. This one is hard for me. I find myself saying yes and just “making stuff happen.” But at times, this attitude makes my life more difficult in a number of ways, including lack of sleep, lack of personal time and more.
So sometimes, we all have to be strong and explain that we just don’t have time–and if possible, we can offer alternative options, but if not, we just have to politely say no.
Keep meetings brief. If you’re in a position to have control over meetings at work, make a goal to meet for 30 minutes max. If you go into a meeting with a written agenda, you’ll be ready to cover your points quickly.
Personally, I have a weekly meeting with my team at Scrubs & Suits. We always try to come in with an agenda, and since we’re a creative and inspired bunch, we have a tendency to get off-track and the meetings can run long. But when I remind everyone early in the meeting that we are limited to a certain period of time, we manage to stay on track a bit more effectively.
So, when you’re leading a meeting, involve the group in helping to manage the time. And, if you’re not leading but you’re attending the meeting, you can do your part by helping the group to stay focused.
Reinforce your efforts to achieve. Praise yourself each day. Maybe you completed a work project you’ve been working on for several weeks or cooked a great meal for friends and family.
Recognize the efforts you make to complete tasks. You deserve it, and you’re worth it–and you don’t need to wait for others to notice. Celebrate yourself, and stay positive about your efforts and achievements.
Allow yourself plenty of time in the morning. If you need an hour to shower, have breakfast and get your task list written for the day, then get up early enough to have your full hour.
When you respect your own needs, you’ll be better emotionally prepared to get things accomplished–and you’ll feel better when you make the effort to present the best possible version of yourself to the world around you.
And if you work at home, don’t think you’re exempt from this idea. You should still get up every morning (most mornings, anyway) and get ready as you would if you worked in an office–whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or you work from your home office, something about “getting ready for work” will change your mindset and help to increase your productivity levels (and you won’t have to hide when the UPS guy shows up.)
So, how about you? What are your best tips for increasing productivity and eliminating procrastination from your life? Let’s discuss! Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.