When our routines are disrupted by unusual circumstances, as was the case for many last year, one of two things will likely happen. Either our days will devolve into chaos, or we’ll be amazed by what we accomplished in spite of it all. How do we achieve the latter?
Here’s our list of tips:
- Dream big. Put your heart and soul into creating a vision and setting goals that take you toward that vision every day. If your goals aren’t big enough to propel you out of bed in the morning, they aren’t big enough.
- Let your goals drive your to-do list. This protects you from the tyranny of the urgent and using busyness as a means of procrastination. You will experience great satisfaction at the end of the day from knowing that not only did you accomplish something, you accomplished something that matters.
- Write it down. Even if you set your plan for the day aside and never glance at it again, you will find that the act of physically writing something on paper cements the information in your memory. Furthermore, having your goals and daily to-dos on paper holds you accountable. You will not derive either of these benefits from a digital to-do list!
- Chunk your projects. How does a worm eat an apple? One bite at a time. It doesn’t matter whether you work better with big bites or little nibbles. Either way, divide and conquer. Chunking your projects will keep you motivated by making them more attainable.
- Schedule time to finish something. Hopefully you’ve already prioritized finishing that big project that is near and dear to you. Here we’re talking about those miscellaneous tasks that tend to accumulate. Sometimes the best antidote for a crazy day filled with unexpected mishaps is to schedule an hour to just knock as many things off your to-do list as possible, regardless of priority. At least you’ll have gotten something done!
- Learn to say no. Really, it’s okay. You are one person; you can’t do everything, and only you have inside knowledge on what your priorities are and need to be. If something doesn’t quite fit, say so; if it’s not timely, work it more comfortably into your schedule.
- Stay in flow. This is the ultimate productivity hack. Each individual will have a different approach to hitting the flow state, where work is effortless and time disappears. Whether you achieve flow alone in your private office, outdoors with a hoe in your hand, or at a coffee shop with your mobile device, get into that zone. Any time your work feels “crunchy,” ask yourself why, and take steps to get back into flow.
- Stay healthy. It’s hard to get much done without energy. So move around throughout the day, drink plenty of water, eat a balanced mix of real foods, spend time outdoors, and implement a sleep schedule. Keep it simple.
- Mix it up. Repetitive tasks performed at length dull the mind and can cause physical problems such as carpal tunnel. Mix it up by making time for different hobbies and interests. If you are self-employed, don’t submit to the factory mindset—you don’t have to! Work to live, don’t live to work.
- Take stock at the end of the day. But in a positive, productive way. Every night, list three big wins and give thanks for them. Then single out one area in which you can improve. Work on it the next day.
As you can see, productivity is about more than “getting things done.” It’s about getting the right things done, the things that matter most.
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