How To Be Productive
5 Steps to Daily Productivity

How to be productive is a question I'm often asked about.  Of course, there have been many books and blogs published on this very topic, but here's a few of my tips and techniques for being more productive throughout my day.

One of the first things to recognize is there is little chance during the day to "get it all done".  The pressure and stress we place upon ourselves with this type of thinking is very harmful and causes more harm than good.

That's where our plans come in to be realistic with ourselves (and others) about what we can accomplish in any given day. 

How To Be Productive

It's also easy to lose our credibility with others if we consistently commit to getting things done without the intention or capacity to follow-through -- especially with customer service.  

By finding out how to be productive, you have the flexibility to under promise and over deliver to your customers.   You want to definitely be truthful to yourself and others about what you'll be able to accomplish and when.  

Of course, we can push ourselves (and many times surprise ourselves!) with how much is possible when we're having an awesome day.   Just don't set yourself up to fail . . . 

1.  Begin with the End In Mind . . .

Yes, this is right from Stephen Covey, but it definitely drives my day (every day)! 

I've always got my 3-5 top long-term goals in my mind and in front of me.

These goals drive me and help me to identify what's important to me.   There will always be important things to do, but I use this as a compass to make sure I'm accomplishing what I want during my days (rather than allowing others to totally dictate my schedule). 

Of course, we need to be realistic here!  Not everything can be planned nor do I want my time 100% booked.  I want the flexibility to allow myself some fun times, etc.   But by using this process, it allows me to reach my goals and have quality time with family, friends, and just having fun!! 

As an example, one of my previous co-workers had something I like to call "Butterfly Syndrome".  She didn't have her long-range goals in front of her so everything that 'caught her eye', she chased.  

I nicknamed this "Butterfly Syndrome" because she would fly from one thing to another without any direction or purpose.  Unfortunately this hurt her professional and personal life since she was never able to focus!!

2.  Make a List Including 3-5 Goals for the Day

O.K.  Writing down your goals and tasks help them to get done.  I can't explain it, but it happens.  Our mind focuses on it . . .  and it happens! 

. . . This is what I love about setting goals and writing out To Do lists.

Many of us make lists!   However, remember the goal here is not the list -- the list is just a tool to help you work through your priorities.  Don't make a career out of list making and make the mistake of failing to take action!!

Personally, I like to make my lists in an electronic system because it's easy to quickly make new action items, prioritize items, move things around when they become more urgent of the requirement is not needed for a period of time, group tasks into projects, track progress, and build in rewards along the way. 

I don't personally like to have small scraps of paper "floating" in my life -- it's too cluttered for me (although I know people this works for and if that's you go for it!)

3.  Start With Your Hardest Task First!

Well, this is always a tough one!!!   :)

When we get caught up first thing in our day reading emails or social media which do not go towards our "Big 3", it can be a waste of some of our most productive hours.

Grab the bull by the horns, look for your hardest task and start working on it!!  This will give you a HUGE sense of accomplishment to get this done and it will bolster your pride . . .   :)

There will always be time to scan through emails/social media.   Do these tasks during your less productive times of day.

I personally use a variety of techniques -- was a Stephen Covey follower for years and used the Franklin-Covey system religiously.  However, recently I've adopted some of the Getting Things Done philosophies in a mix-and-match style.  

I've modified the rigid list idea from Covey into a more relaxed style -- keeping track of the task, but not scheduling every minute of my day.

I personally enjoy the flexibility it provides me!!   And it seems this is similar to Marie Forleo's ideas (see video below).  

4.  Use a Timer - BEGIN!!

This is my #1 tool!!!  When I need to work on something difficult or time consuming, but am struggling to get any traction with it, i set my mind to work on the task for 9 minutes.   Why 9 minutes??   It's a good fung shei number (and it's psychologically less than 10)!!

B - E - G - I - N

Begin NOW!!

How to be productive with this method??  

I set my mind and my timer to work for 9 minutes.  

When the timer goes off, I've usually accomplished something on the task, but I make myself move to something else for another 9 minutes. . .it can be another part of the task if it's a big task with lots of parts/pieces.   A

After the second 9 minutes, I move back to the first part of the task and work on it (you guessed it, for another 9 minutes).  

This is something I've personally found helps me.   By moving often, it keeps me fresh and motivated!  Moving quickly because I only have 9 minutes to accomplish SOMETHING!!  

Give this a try and see if it works for you??

Or drop me a line and share any other little tricks on how to be productive and ideas which have worked for you to accomplish your goals!!

5.  Track Your Progress

By tracking your progress, you'll find out how to be productive and best meet your personal goals. 

That Which Is Measured Improves

The beauty of writing our goals (and the tasks associated with them), is that we then have a record of what we've accomplished.   We can look back and see our achievements.  

I can't tell you how many times, I've been discouraged thinking I haven't gotten as far on a project as I had hoped.   When I look back, I'm actually amazed to see how far I've come.  It does seem that many projects may take longer than originally planned, but it is encouraging when I see "Wow, I've accomplished all of those steps!"

Then we can actually measure what we want to improve.  If you want more sales or additional customers, it's easy to begin tracking the numbers and the steps we're following to hit our goals. 

Once we begin tracking the important tasks in our business, we can figure out how to be productive and increase what we want while decreasing what we don't want.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to figure out how to be productive in your life.   You can use a specific "system", mix-and-match systems, and definitely give a few of these ideas a try . . .

5 Simple Ways to Make Your Day More Productive
by:  Barrie Davenport

Barrie's top 5 are similar, but he bring's up some additional ideas:  

1.  Set 3-5 Goals Daily

2.  Budget Time

3.  Remove Distractions

4.  Allow Breaks and Rewards

5.  Close the Day Strong

How to Be Productive - Articles

Here are some additional resources . . .  make sure to watch Marie's video -- it's good and entertaining!!

5 Simple Ways to Make Your Day More Productive by Barrie Davenport

4 Things Really Productive People Do Every Day Video by Marie Forleo

If you've got other ideas that work for you, I'd love to hear from you . . .  Can't wait to learn  what works for others in this area. . .

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