Are You Productive…Or Just Busy?
Have you ever observed someone who seems to be busy all the time, but doesn’t really get anything done? Do you feel that sometimes you’re in the same boat? How do you know if you’re productive or just busy?
Do you have goals? People who are productive generally have goals and focus all of their work on achieving those goals. Of course, there are always going to be distractions, but those distractions don’t take priority over the big picture.
Do you focus or multi-task? People who multi-task often seem very busy. They’re always doing something, but they’re rarely doing any one thing very well. You’ll be more productive if you focus on doing one thing at a time.
Do you delegate? Sometimes you may take on tasks that would really be better to delegate to someone else. If you work alone at your own business, this may be more difficult. But you might be able to delegate personal tasks while keeping the focus on business tasks.
Do you say no? People who are productive know how to say no to something that is going to take them away from their own important work. It’s okay to say no when you really don’t have time to fit in one more thing.
Do you let some things go? It may sound counterproductive to erase some tasks from your to-do list. But you may find that you have given yourself tasks that really won’t move your vision forward and will take up extra time. It’s okay to scratch something off the list and go a different way.
Do you have a schedule? People who are productive tend to have a schedule for each day of what needs to be done and when. If you’re not planning ahead, chances are you’re staying busy but not productive.
Do you complete projects? You can be busy doing something all day long, every day and never get a project completed. If you find you’re starting a lot of things without finishing them, it’s time to look at your priorities and become more productive.
Do you feel at peace? When you spend your time very busy but not accomplishing much you might feel a sense of anxiety. You may worry about all the things you need to do that aren’t getting done.
But when you’re productive, you can actually feel peace when it comes to working. You know what’s important and you have a plan to get it done on time.
Simple Productivity Boosters
This short little guide is about productivity boosters that will help you get more done in less time. Why is that important? Or let me ask a better question. Why is productivity important?
- We all have things we need to get done.
- We need to go to work to make enough money to support ourselves and our families.
- We need to get groceries, cook dinner, do the laundry, feed the dog, drive the kids to after-school activities, wash the car, mow the lawn, clean the bathroom…
- And we need to sleep for about eight hours a say on average to recover and regroup.
The list goes on and on. I think I made my point. We all have a lot of stuff to do in any given day. And that day only has 24 hours. We don’t get more, we don’t get less. Time is a finite resource. And that right there is why productivity matters.
We don’t get more time in our day. And much of what is on our to-do list is non-negotiable. It has to get done. The only thing under our control is how fast we move through our task list. And that’s where productivity comes in and why it matters.
If you can make it through that list just a little faster and get things done more efficiently, that leaves you with more time to do the things you want and love to do. With that in mind, let’s move through these three powerful productivity boosters.
Productivity Booster #1 – Focus On The Things That Matter
Before you get to work on anything, look over everything you need to do and figure out what is important. What matters, what doesn’t? By cutting out things like busywork, unnecessary errands, and the likes you can greatly boost your productivity. Focus on the important stuff, on the things that matter and make a difference.
Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? It’s used a lot in business and marketing, but applies to the rest of your life just as much. It states that 20% of your efforts give you 80% of the results.
Let’s say you’re working on a home improvement project. 20% of the time you spend working on the project will result in 80% of the progress you’re making. The rest of the time, you may be doing busy work, looking for stuff, or just standing there staring at what you’ve accomplished (or how much there’s left to do).
The key to boosting your productivity is to identify the 20% of the work you do that result in 80% of the results. Then just focus on doing that 20% work. Yes, you can cut your work load quite a bit and end up with more and better results. All you need to do is to do more of the 20% stuff.
The only hard part is identifying what the high productivity tasks are. Set aside a little time and review what you’re doing and what’s giving you the best results. Those are the tasks and activities you want to focus on most of the time to boost your productivity.
Write them down and then make a list of what you need to get done today. Start with the things that will have the biggest impact. This will ensure you stay productive even when your workday is cut short. Give it a try and see if prioritizing and making a list doesn’t help boost your productivity.
Productivity Booster #2 – Put Yourself On A Deadline
The next big profitability booster is to put yourself on a deadline. It only makes sense, doesn’t it? Think back on times when you were on a tight deadline. When your boss asks you to wrap up a report for him in an hour, or when you’re trying to get the house cleaned before the in-laws show up for a visit.
When we have a deadline, we tend to work a lot more efficiently and effectively. We don’t let the little stuff distract us. We put on our blinders and get stuff done.
There’s something called Parkinson’s Law which states that work will expand to fill the time you give it. If you have all day to clean the house, it will take you all day. If you have a 45 minute warning before friends show up, it’ll get done in 45 minutes. Sure, it may not be as much of a deep cleaning as the all day job, but the 80/20 rule applies here as well and your house will be much cleaner than it was an hour earlier.
Now let’s talk about putting yourself on a deadline on a regular basis. It’s pretty simple. Grab a kitchen timer, or use an app on your phone, and start using the timer to have a deadline for all your tasks.
Challenge yourself to get stuff done much faster than you are right now. It will force you to focus, stop wasting time, and it will boost your productivity. In other words, you’ll get a lot more done in a lot less time if you’re using a time. Try it.
Productivity Booster #3 – Take Advantage Of Flow
Let’s talk about getting in the flow. It’s that almost magical state of mind where work becomes effortless and you get more done then you ever thought possible. I’m sure you’ve experienced it at some point in the past. You get so involved in a project or task that you forget about everything else around you. You are focused and your brain cells are firing at twice the normal speed. You make decisions with ease and just work through you list of tasks without letting anything or anyone interrupt you. It’s a great feeling and it’s an amazing productivity booster.
Start by taking advantage anytime you get into the flow. Buckle down, work hard, and get ahead whenever you find yourself in the flow state. That along will boost your productivity, but just think how much more you could get done if you could get yourself in the flow on demand.
To make this happen, start paying attention to what it takes to get you into the flow. Identify what exactly brings it on or what’s happening when you get in the flow.
Once you have that information, try to replicate it whenever you have some work that you want to get through quickly. Go through the same routines, recreate the setting that gets you in the flow, and just start practicing.
I’m serious. Like meditating, getting into the flow gets easier with practice. Before you know it, you’ll be able to generate short bursts of flow on demand. Take advantage of that new “super-power” and increase your productivity whenever you need it.
And here’s a handy little tip. It will get easier to get into the flow when you know exactly what you’re working on and when you know what you’re doing is important. That goes back to productivity tip #1. And having a deadline helps you get into the flow as well, which is what we talked about in productivity tip #2. Both of those combined will help you get into and stay in the flow on a regular basis, while helping boost your productivity overall.
In other words, all three productivity boosters in this report work together – in synergy – to help you get more done in less time. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Let’s wrap this up and get back to work. All three productivity boosters will help you get more done in less time. And that leaves you more time for the things that are important on a more personal level. It gives you more time to spend with your loved ones (be they family or friends), it gives you more time to pursue your hobbies and passions, and it gives you time for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Isn’t that a goal worth striving towards?
We all have only one life to live and within that there’s a limited amount of hours. We may not know exactly how many hours we are given, but we know without a shadow of a doubt that it is not an infinite number. That’s why it’s important to stop wasting time and letting work drag on and on. Instead, give these productivity boosters a try, make them part of your daily routine, and get more done in fewer hours.
It’s well worth it when you take control of your time and you get to choose how you want to spend it. That’s the real benefit of time management and increased productivity. It isn’t so we can do even more work. It’s so we get to choose how we want to spend our time. Yes, some of it will be spent on work and chores, but the better we get at working on those things quickly, the more we have leftover at the end of the day to spend on things and people we love.
Being More Focused Leads to Productivity
In a world where instant gratification is treasured and you rarely have to watch more than a few moments of a sound bite, it can be hard to stay focused and productive. But being focused is necessary to be productive.
If you’re struggling with focus, here are a few tips to help you stay free from distractions and accomplish more.
Set Up A Physical Boundary. No matter what environment you work in, setting a physical boundary can help minimize distractions. If you have an office with a door, shut it when you need to focus. If you’re in a cubicle, post a polite sign asking not to be disturbed.
If you have a home office, make sure that your family and friends are aware that when you’re working they need to respect that space. It helps if you can set up your office in a room that isn’t used for other things.
Make a Daily Task List. It helps to get more done throughout the day if you keep a list of what needs to be done where you can see it. This can be posted on your computer desktop, on a dry erase board, or kept on a notepad by your desk.
Try to have a list with no more than 12 things on it for each day. If you have larger tasks, keep the list shorter. You don’t want to become overwhelmed with what you need to do, but you do want a visual reminder of what needs to be done each day.
Make the Most of Time Management Apps. If you find yourself easily distracted by email, social media, and other sites that are time wasters you may want to take advantage of computer apps that lock those down. Examples include SelfControl and Cold Turkey.
Theseprograms will automatically block specific sites so that you can’t be distracted by them. You can set a time limit and you can decide which ones to block or keep free.
Use a Timer. It’s impossible to be completely focused on a task for hours at a time. You may find it helpful to set a timer for 25 minutes that will allow you to stay focused for that time. Then give yourself a five minute break to get a drink of water, walk around a bit, or just take your mind off of work so that you can feel refreshed.
Dividing work into smaller chunks can keep it from feeling overwhelming and boring. It can also keep you from feeling like procrastinating on a big project that will be time consuming.
Do the Worst Tasks First. For some people it’s helpful to just get the worst tasks over with before getting on with the rest of the day. This is a good solution for procrastination and leaves the rest of the day free for the tasks you enjoy.
Organization Leads to Better Productivity
If you’re struggling to be productive, it could be a lack of organization at the root of the problem. For some people organization comes naturally, but for most people it requires some energy to learn organization skills.
And even if you’re not inherently organized, there are many things you can do to improve your organization one step at a time.
Clean Your Work Area. If your work area looks like it was the victim of a recent natural disaster, your productivity will suffer. The first step toward better organization is cleaning your work area.
This means getting rid of trash, organizing papers in file folders or binders, designating storage spaces for office supplies, and throwing away materials that are duplicates or that you no longer need.
Organize Your Computer and Email. If your computer desktop has fifty icons on it and your email list has hundreds of emails, it’s time to clean those areas. Make sure that all important documents are stored in logical folders and remove any unused icons from your desktop.
Spend a day organizing email so that unimportant emails are deleted and important emails are organized into folders so you can refer to them when you need them. If you have unread mail, read it.
Use a Planner. Productive people plan each day with purpose. Using a daily planner – either on paper or electronically – can help you to stay on track and become more productive. It’s best to plan the next day’s work at the end of your work day so that you can begin fresh the next day and know what needs to be done first.
Focus Your Efforts. Instead of worrying about trying to do everything at once, learn to focus instead of multi-tasking. Set a designated time or times each day to read email, respond to voicemail, and work on social media. The rest of your day should be spent on more important tasks.
Don’t Procrastinate. Sometimes it’s tempting to put off tasks that are less desirable. But all this does is get you behind schedule and put off the inevitable. When you need to do something, just use self-discipline to complete the task and move on. You’ll save time and energy.
Stick to a Routine. It’s easier to be productive when you stick to a consistent schedule instead of doing things differently each day. This may sound boring, but over time you’ll find you actually like the regularity of a routine and you’ll get more done in less time