Strive for excellence, yes….but embrace your imperfections.
Being busy is not the same as being productive.
There. I said it.
And boy do I know it. I thought that just because my butt was planted in my chair in my office/studio that that counted for something, even though I was really just doing busy work. You know…
creating the perfect image to use in a blog post that took maybe 2 hours of my time (???)
taking oodles of time to find podcasts to listen to while I did my “work”
reading a whole slew of subscription emails in my inbox cause I was “learning” something or getting info to help me in my business
allowing family interruptions by text or in person to take place even though I was “working”
writing an email newsletter to my tribe but heading to a browser first to do research which led to endless scrolling on social media or jumping from website to website to website and then down the proverbial rabbit hole of online cruising I went.
I did all of this. ALL. THE. TIME.
The work I needed to get done never got completed and consistency in showing up was a rare occurrence at best or never at all at worst.
Being busy is definitely not the same as being productive.
Being productive means I get to see results from the work I do. It means task are completed and get crossed off the list instead of being continually transferred to 2nd and 3rd lists in the week. It means you see growth in your business because you’re actually getting the dang work done.
How can you be more productive? Here are 10 ways.
It's one took me a little while to jump on the bandwagon. Growing up with not a lot of money to spare, I was the DIYer (no father at home growing up to take on these tasks), so I learned how to do all manner of things for our family. As a married adult I DIYed our home by making a lot of the things we used. I learned how and made it myself. Cause I had to.
I did this in business too. I did everything, I wore every hat even if sometimes I wore it a little skewed or off kilter. In the beginning I was making so little money I couldn't afford to hire a soul.
Recently I even hired a coach to help me maneuver through managing my business. I don’t know all things. I acknowledge that now. My next hire is a VA cause I really don’t like doing all the adminny things anymore.
2) Do what’s listed on your to-do list (duh! Right?)
Last year I started making a desires list. This wasn’t about what I wanted (although I have made those kinds of lists too!).
This list was about listing the desired outcome I wanted from a task I had completed. How would it make me feel or what exactly was going to be accomplished. THIS rocked my world. No longer was I just listing tasks for listing sake and still not getting them completed, I had an end game to look forward to (see #9 on this list...but not yet). I wrote, realistically, what doing the tasks would do for me. Hence my desires list.
As a challenge, try creating your own desires list for a week. See if the change in how your create your tasks of weekly and daily to-do’s changes how you get things done.
3) Set a timer
Oh lawdy this was a biggun! And it actually helps. I started with the Pomodoro technique, setting my timer for 25 minutes at a time, working on one task and nothing else. No research, no phone checks, no interruptions. At the end of 3-25 minute sessions a task either was completed or the work on it made a difference.
Another way I used a timer was in SuperBoost sessions with members of my old Mastermind group (we invented the term SuperBoost but I’m sure it goes by many other names).
My group would make separate plans (other than our scheduled mastermind time) to meet virtually online for 15 minutes to discuss what each of us would be working on, go offline to work on that one thing then meet up 35-50 minutes later to chat about what we each accomplished and get feedback if needed.
Much like the Pomodoro technique except the added component of having the group kudos at the end rather than doing just on your own.
4) Take a break
When things head into the overwhelm stage for me, that eventually leads to complete shut down and then work inevitably ceases. That ain’t good. These days I implement breaks in my daily schedule especially if I’m doing work that’s intense or if I can feel the beginnings of frustration setting in on some task I need to be completed RIGHT NOW.
Taking a break resets the day. It allows space for you to recalibrate or rethink what’s going on. It allows space for calm and even breathing so your nerves don’t get shot. Taking a break can bring you back to center allowing sound reasoning back in.
This might look like going for a walk (my fave) or cuddling with the dog, it could be doing a few yoga positions. Even listening to a meditation, reading a couple more pages in a book or catching up on a fave podcasts you can’t find the time to get back to is all about taking a break.
(A couple of apps I have on my phone for you to try are Headspace, Insight Timer and Calm).
5) Set daily and weekly goals for yourself
Are you writing a book? If so get in the habit of tracking how much you write and set yourself a schedule for how many words/pages you want to have completed in a day. Setting periodic goals (not talking life goals here) for yourself helps to chart a course for success.
Make your goals achievable, not lofty and unreachable. There’s nothing to be gained by writing down a goal that you cannot possibly attained because your expectations are set so high. Be realistic about what you can do, the time you have to do it in (especially important) and what really needs to be achieved. Your goals must be important to you but they also must be meaningful to your business or the work you do.
6) Be more present (more mindful of your time)
This is a tricky one. it can feel like you are being present but when hours have passed and you haven't a clue what you did (there’s no real work to show what you accomplished) then awareness was not a part of the work you were doing.
Don’t let time suck take you away from being more present. This might look like not being aware of your surrounding (zoning out) or letting distractions interrupt your work or not wanting to the work.
If this latter one is the case be mindful of it and do number 4 in the list….take a break. If the work you set out to do is not enticing enough then change it or move away from your desk or the task. No sense on pushing when there’s nothing within you to give.
7) Do a body scan
No really! Tap into what your energy reserves looks like during any part of your day. Knowing what our bodies need can help in crafting a day of productivity. If you know that at 11am your energy slags, go get a snack to eat at your desk or take 10 mins to sit a table and be present as you eat (remember #6 above?).
I do this at lunch. I never eat lunch at my desk anymore or my studio table. I like to eat good food but I don’t always enjoy the task and find myself eating only for sustenance sake. My former coach suggested that after my meal is prepared, I actually sit at my dining room table while eating it, doing nothing else. This was my way to be present with my food in order to appreciate what was going into my body to nourish it. I love this simple act so much.
Now when I sit back down to continue working I have renewed energy for another few hours of work.
8) Take powerful action.
This one might seem larger or scarier than it actually is. Simply put….do what you say you’re going to do. Commit to doing the next step in your process. Do just that thing. Then repeat this action. Before you know it a task that has been pulling at you to get off you to-do list is now done. Yay you!!
Another way to take powerful action is to batch activities. If there is something you do on repeat like recording a video or writing a social media post then consider doing a bunch of them all at the same time.
This one was always hard for me cause most of my writing is very organic…in the moment. But once I trained my brain to be in the zone of that activity or planned ahead to get many of them done at once this freed up time for other ways to be more productive (I’ll be recording a video or audio of what this process looks like for me soon so stay tuned).
9) Celebrate even the small wins.
Sometimes we’re so eager to get a task completed that we don’t take time to give ourselves a high 5! Seeing things being accomplished means your productivity value quotient goes up and you’re more likely to be motivated to get another task completed.
Take the time to give yourself some momentary high praise and atta-girl kudos at a job done.
There you have it, 9 ways to be more productive so that your spirit isn’t being deflated or frustration doesn’t have a chance to set in because you can’t get to doing the work.
Okay, so I said 10 right. Here’s one more for you….
10) Let in compassion and give yourself grace
You are human after all, therefore you, hon, are not infallible. Mistakes, glitches, time crunch episodes and outright #shithitthefan events will happen, possibly leading to frustration and time lost. This should not be a part of your long game when it comes to being more productive.
Remember, as long as the motivation is there and the willingness to succeed shows up, you too can crush it in the productivity arena.