Increase your productivity with these simple steps

Is it just me or does September seem to be moving at a rapid pace?
When I start to feel like there is not enough time in the day, I know it's a sign to step back, take a deep breathe and come up with a game plan.
Here are a few steps to help maximize your time and make more room for things that truly matter.

Be Realistic

Indra Nooyi the CEO of Pepsi co. wakes up every morning at 4am. I will never be the CEO of Pepsi nor will I ever willingly wake up at 4am. No matter my intentions, I know my body and how much rest is needed to take on the day, a 4am wake up is not going to happen. Setting your alarm an hour or two early to get a jump on the day can be a great method. There is something about getting an activity in before breakfast or having some quiet time to yourself before the world has risen, that can feel very powerful. The key to that is being honest with yourself. If you are setting your alarm early only to end up hitting snooze three times and falling in and out of sleep you may as well get the extra sleep. Hitting snooze will make you feel groggy. You may become disappointed in yourself (that even though you didn’t need to get up that early, you should have) and it could have a negative impact on your day. I know when that happens to me I start listing off all of the things I could have done if only I had woke up on that first alarm!

It is better to be realistic with yourself and wake up bright-eyed and ready to take on the morning. (Bonus points if you manage to throw in a morning workout and healthy breakfast.)

Develop a to-do list AND a priority list 

A to-do list is not a ground breaking idea but for me it is life changing. Writing everything down (no task is too small) can make things seem more manageable and keep you mentally focused. It frees up your mind to concentrate on other things. There is no better feeling than crossing something off that list! It always brings a sense of progress and accomplishment. Whether you use an app, google docs or notebook, you want to make sure the list is with you throughout the day so if you happen to become distracted you can easily reference it and get yourself back on track.

A priority list (not to be confused with a to-do list) will also help with productivity. Every night pick a few items from your to-do list that you MUST get done the next day. Ideally to be done first thing in the morning before checking emails. You will feel great knowing you’ve accomplished a good part of your to-do list by noon. The trick is to not be over ambitious and fill this list with too many items. A good rule is to stick to three things. If you get more done, great. If all else fails at least you know those three items have been accomplished, success!

Time Batch

Time batching can be particularly helpful if you work for yourself or are part of a start-up grind.

If you ever feel that you have so much to do but not sure where to begin, time batching will help. It involves grouping similar activities together to reduce clutter and increase focus. For example, grouping emails/admin/finance or marketing/PR/creative together. Schedule set times where you get each group done. The schedule will become a routine and will allow you to dedicate solid amounts of time to each area without letting items slip. It also solves the question of wondering what to focus on each day.

Touch things once - never twice

My former employer had a great habit of “acting on things immediately or throwing it away”. If anything came to his attention he would do it immediately so as not to let it slip. If he felt the task would take longer than he had, he would dedicate a specific time for it in his calendar and set an alarm. This allowed him to get it done and out of the way or not have to think about it until the alarm went off. A simple trick that can have a huge impact! How often do we put small things off thinking we will get to them later? The problem with this is that the longer it is delayed, the more often we think about the need to get it done! The “act or toss” habit brings a sense of mental clarity.

Don’t forget to carve out some time each day to do something that fills you with pure joy. Even if its as simple as going for a 20 minute walk. Spending time doing something you love will keep you feeling refreshed and inspired!

Have any tips to help keep you productive? We'd love to hear them in the comments below. 


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