If you have ever struggled to stay motivated in reaching for your goals, or you feel like every giant leap you take turns out to be a baby step, you will undoubtedly benefit from a boost to your personal productivity. But there is no point repeating the same behaviors over and over again, expecting a different result. To truly achieve success, you must identify and adopt new and useful behaviors that switch things up and get you truly smashing those life goals.
To help you learn how to increase personal productivity in your own life, I’ve put together these 10 useful tips. They’re all simple but highly effective strategies for improved productivity. Take a look, and ask yourself this: Which one can I put into practice RIGHT NOW?
1. Re-think Your To-Do List
First things first - you need to take a long, hard look at your to-do list. Productivity doesn’t mean “doing all the things” - it’s about identifying those that matter, and working through them in an efficient way. Having an unmanageably long to-do list does not make you busy - it makes you inefficient.
Go through your list and be ruthless. Ask yourself: does this help me achieve my most important goals? If not, strike it off, delegate it to someone else, or bump it down the list.
2. Learn To Say ‘No’
Once you have identified which items on your list are necessary and which are not, you’re going to need to learn an important word. It’s short, it’s sweet, and you shouldn’t be afraid to sprinkle it into conversation - often.
‘No’ will arguably get you just as far in life as ‘yes’ will. If you’re a people pleaser who accepts every invitation and helps with every task thrown your way, you need to start employing ‘No’ on the regular. If you’re stretched and stressed and wondering why you never seem to have time to achieve your own goals and dreams, it may just be that you’ve forgotten to put yourself first. Say ‘no’ - now.
3. Write Down Your Goals
Goals come alive when you write them down. There’s a magic in the action of spelling your dreams out on paper that helps keep you accountable. I know, because I grew a successful business from good goal-oriented planning. If you want to use the same planning tools that helped me, you can find them here.
4. Build A Routine
Productivity is rarely borne from chaos and disorder. A good, solid routine will bring clarity and focus to your days, helping you to shake off those unimportant distractions and get to those few key things that will really bring you results.
Routines can be as big as a full daily schedule and as small as two set walks around the block. Don’t hem yourself in with an overly restrictive routine, but give yourself some boundaries and watch your productivity blossom.
5. Eat The Frog
Mark Twain famously said that people should “eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
His point? Do the hard thing first. Make that awkward but necessary phone call. Do the dishes. Write that business plan. It’s far too easy for us to do the easy tasks first - kidding ourselves that they’re just as important. Eat your frogs, and you’ll find yourself less anxious about difficult tasks, and so much closer to reaching your goals.
6. Reward Yourself
Rewards work - just ask toddlers and puppies.But they’ll only help to increase your productivity if you use them effectively. Getting up from your work to have a cupcake isn’t going to improve your productivity if you do it whenever the mood strikes. Set yourself small goals and reward them only when you reach them:
- I’ll let myself do some stretches in the sun AFTER I send these three emails.
- We can get takeout for dinner IF I finish editing all of these spreadsheets today.
- I can have a cup of coffee AS SOON AS I’ve made that difficult phone call.
7. Learn The Art Of Single-Tasking
We’ve been lied to for years about the secret to productivity: it is not about doing more things at the same time - rather, it’s all about doing fewer.
Multi-tasking is OUT and single-tasking is IN. Our brains are simply not wired to effectively multi-task. Trying to do multiple things at the same time actually reduces our productivity - it reduces our focus, messes with our memory, and ramps up our stress levels. So pick something, finish that - and then (and only then) move on to the next thing.
8. The Critical Few
You’re probably wasting most of your day.
It’s harsh, but true. Ninety percent of the things you do each day account for just 10% of the results you see. We all have fluff we can cut from our week - whether it be checking the news that tenth time, or setting up a new document every day when a template would save us valuable minutes. Decide which tasks really serve your goals, and give those ones a whole lot more of your energy.
9. Focus Your Mind
Easier said than done, right? Well actually - it’s never been easier than right now. There is an abundance of tools and trainings available to help you eject noise from your life and quieten your racing mind. Whether it be meditation, yoga, or a big cup of chamomile tea - spending some serious time on focusing your brain to the task at hand will supercharge your productivity levels.
10. Plan, Plan, Plan
Our brains are beautiful but erratic wanderers. If we don’t provide them with a road map, they can easily end up in Timbuktu during a straightforward trip to the corner store. The secret to my own business success has 100% boiled down to good planning and organization. If you want to include some planning into your productivity boost journey, take a look at this Digital Personal Planner - it will help you learn how to measure personal productivity and how to make some real changes in your daily habits.