I must say, being productive every day or even most of the time is an admirable trait. One that it seems everyone wants to be able to say. However, as with anything that we want to be an expert at, consistency is both king and key. To therefore be a productive person, you have to be consistent at being productive. Being productive does not happen overnight. It takes daily effort to be sustained and be a part of you.
Productivity is being effective and efficient with your time. It produces significant result and output for a person in a certain period or over a period of time. Productivity is measured by the things done, not the thought of things to be done. So, you have to be working on the right thing at the right time to be considered productive.
So, to aid your journey towards productivity, I’m sharing with you a few tips that you have to be consistent with. Remember, it takes daily effort.
Make a to-do-list
This sounds very cliché and obvious, yet I still need to state this. The thing about having a to-do-list is that you either like it or you don’t. I think one of the reasons (out of several) why some do not like to make a to-do list is that it takes effort to make. You need to sit still and think of the things you need to do, and in order of importance also. But think of the time that will be saved in the day if you already have this list and not scheme around what you would have to do next. Or the fact that with this list, your chances of forgetting important tasks to be done is slashed by over half.
Making a to-do-list saves time and energy, and let’s not forget that you actually get to see the things you want to do when you need to do them. However, there are some things to keep in mind when making this list. Most importantly, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by making a list with 20 tasks on it. Stick to about three to five, so you are actually able to do what you need to do effectively and efficiently. Because being productive involves you doing your tasks with focus, and you can’t be focused on 20 things. So, keep the list simple and realistic so it is doable.
Do your most important task at your peak.
When it comes to your “biggest frog”, i.e. the task that you really have to do before the end of the day, do it at the right time. It is mostly said the most important task needs to be done at the start of the day. While this is good advice, it may not work for everyone. Some people are at their best in the night, for others, it’s in the afternoon. We all function differently, so we have different energy peak times. So, I say to do your most important task when you are at your best, when your energy is top notch and your creative juice is flowing.
The thing about this most important task is that if it is done, you feel productive even if you slip on a different task. But when it is not done, you feel like you haven’t achieved anything in the day. This is why your tasks should not be just a bunch of things you will like to do (that is called a dump list).
Do not attempt to multi-task
This is usually an epic fail. Trying to multi-task is a super-power that we sometimes are proud that we harness. But it could be a problem when you are multi-tasking on two important and time-consuming things. Multi-tasking is fun and a time saving skill when it is done in less damaging ways like listening to a podcast while cleaning or driving, or cooking and talking to a friend (that is if knives are not involved).
But when it comes to writing a proposal and submitting a report, those are two important tasks that should get their own time slots in your planner. Trying to multi-task in this scenario reduces your focus and thinly spreads your energy across both tasks. In other words, ineffective and inefficient. So, focus on one task per time and be committed to excellently executing it.
Stay away from distraction (literally)
Distractions are killers of productivity and if you can’t avoid them or limit them to the barest minimum, they will limit your productivity. There are two sides to this coin of distraction. On one side, distractions will always exist, on the other side, they could be contained. One major way to control your distractions is to maintain a mindset of discipline (topic for another day). Now discipline is hard and deliberate work. To be disciplined however, you need to be clear on your “why”. Why do you need to do what you need to do? You need to have clarity. If your reason for doing what you want to do is not clear, then it is easy to ignore it when you miss a day. Your “why” will sour up your discipline.
Another way to go about this is to schedule your distractions. In doing this however, you need to do what your distractions are. For me, its social media (twitter to be precise). So, what I do is I schedule this distraction so that it doesn’t limit my productivity for the day (it’s amazing how time flies when you are on social media). Create the time to deal with those distractions that cannot be avoided. Sometimes this would mean turning your phone face down when working or locking it up in a drawer while working.
This is the most underestimated productive tip in the history of tips. Rest works wonders when it comes to being productive. After a good night rest, your mind is clear, you are able to think right and you feel re-energized to tackle the next task. Sometimes it is easy to be on auto pilot and just work till your body breaks down. For some weird reason we think that if we keep at a task, no matter how tired we are, we will be able to effectively complete it.
Next time you are feeling stuck, try to take a few minutes to rest. You do not necessarily have to sleep, just relax your mind and eyes off work and let the magic happen.
We all want to be productive persons, but it’s the little effective things that we do that could make big a big difference in what we do and how we do it.