People seem to believe productivity is elusive, something that we haven’t cracked the code on yet. I tend to disagree. While many people have cracked the code on procrastination, plenty of people have not only got the code, but mastered productivity. Just take Tom Bilyeu for example. Even I can only imagine the to do list he creates for himself.
The thing is, productivity isn’t complex. It’s the methods you need to take to create maximized productivity that’s complex. Each of these 5 Methods will get their own article, but for now, let’s summarize and get started.
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1. Have an accountability partner.
Whether you realize it now or not, having a team at your back, or even just one person to keep you accountable to your promises is invaluable when it comes to personal growth, productivity, and overall success.
Take a day of the week and either meet online with your team, friend, partner, or whomever you’ve chosen to work with, and get to it.
If they live nearby, go have a coffee! And talk at the cafe. It’s important that you are able to speak out your GOALS. Why? Because verbalizing them, and telling someone your goals is making a commitment.
It’s one thing to tell yourself that you commit to doing something, because, come on, we lie to ourselves all the time (all the time).
But make a promise to someone you care about?
I am going to go out on a ledge here and assume you are less likely to lie to them. (I’d hope — if not, that’s an entirely different issue.)
Look, I am not suggesting you ask someone to guilt trip you when you fail. I am suggesting you put your words out into the universe and make sure someone is there to witness it. I have mentioned this before, but I run a “Success Networking Team” that meets once a week. I don’t know everyone in the group personally, but I know them and their goals and I am there to lift them up and support them, even when they don’t finish their goals.
Failure Happens! Don’t Beat Yourself Up Over It!!!
You can do the same for your accountability partner, as they do for you. It’s a mutually beneficial connection — don’t disregard how powerful a tool it can be.
2. Learn to schedule your days, weeks, and months — and use Time-Blocking to your advantage.
I’m sure you’ve heard this many times by now. I take 10 minutes before bed and write my next day schedule. I block out specific times for specific things. You can do the same, and make it work for you. Doing a daily schedule also helps those with rotating work schedules!
One of the biggest things that keeps me on task during the day is having a clear, legible, and unquestionable daily schedule.
I wake up pretty early in comparison to most work-from-home people. But, I think that getting up early is an important part of my schedule. This is because it gives me plenty of time to get what I need done while the sun is up. Our bodies are naturally tuned to associate sundown with “relaxation”. If you’re interested in learning more about that, it’s called “Chronotype” and there are several articles that discuss the human-behavior patterns associated with rest and time of day.
A lot of people have expressed to me that they only feel their “muse” at night. That’s because it’s quiet. Find a quiet place in the morning for your “muse” to play in. You control it, because it’s not a real thing. A muse is just a term given to extra creativity and inspiration. Don’t let it control you, and do what is best for you!
Sit down with a paper and pen, or even a schedule calendar on your computer (or phone), wherever it is going to be the most useful for you. (My significant other uses a blackboard with colorful markers.) Making it something you enjoy, is convenient for you, and keeps you on task is extremely important.
If it bores you, you won’t bother.
A sample schedule for me looks a bit like this:
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10am: School work/check email
12:30pm: Write/Work on plotting
1:30pm: Work on social media platforms
2–4pm: Meet with client to go over project.
6pm: 1hr television
7pm: check “extras”/play video games
8:30pm: Brainstorm for writing project/set up tomorrow’s schedule and To do list.
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Make yours fit your lifestyle, and your needs. This is a small sample of a day that is “light” for me. A heavy work day will have several hours blocked off with 20–30 minute break periods. So, even mine changes from day-to-day, and that’s a good thing.
Mix things up or you’re going to get bored. And boredom often leads to procrastination.
3. Learn to Set and Keep Goals. You Need Them.
The more you ignore the need for goals, the longer you’re going to wander the world aimlessly going no where. Know what you want, and get it.
If you can’t make a commitment, let alone a decision, you’re going to grow old and stagnant like water in a creek. On one side, if you love mosquitos you’re in the right place! But if you, like the rest of us, think mosquitos are literally evil — it’s time to get that water moving!
If you haven’t read my article on why You Need More Than One Goal, be sure to open it in a new window and read it next, because it will really get into this one.
You aren’t going to be able to change your life, become more productive or even grow as a person, if you’re never making decisions, never setting goals, and you never try to achieve anything.
Even if you have to start with one goal, that may be what you need to get the ball rolling, so don’t feel pressured to do everything at once. If you need to take baby steps to get there, then take baby steps. Just don’t stay in “baby step” mode forever. Eventually, all children learn to walk (or move in their own right — as with differently able-bodied people). You cannot stay stagnant forever, if you do, you will vanish into dust without notice.
Don’t make your goal to be filled with regrets on your deathbed, simply because you were too lazy or too frightened to go out and get the life you deserve.
“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.”
— Kurt Vonnegut
Be brave enough to not die with regrets. Even if you fail — make those goals and try your best to get it!
You need to cut out some of that Social Media time, my friend.
Social Media is a pit. You can get lost in great conversation, arguments, nonsense, and it just kills the time you should be on the grind. So, limit your social media time, use sites like Buffer to manage your posts and give you time to get to the real work.
Social Media has its uses, and I will advocate for it daily, for audience building, networking, and community. However, it can be a time suck. We do not advocate for time sucking! Your time is valuable. You should be using it wisely.
A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life.
— Charles Darwin
Utilizing online programs or apps to manage your social media is one of the best ways to clear up your own time — and get back to what’s important. I pull aside one hour of my day to work towards audience building, marketing, SEO learning, and other social media information. (I am also taking courses on these at my university.)
Find a way to productively manage your social media, and to keep yourself from getting sucked into meaningless time dumps like online arguments with strangers, endless threads of nonsense, and similar. If you want to do those things — make sure it fits into your “free time” which should also be slotted into your time-blocked schedule.
Make every second of your day count.
5. Practice Self-Discipline. Self-Awareness and Being Able to Manage Yourself Will Provide You With Guidelines To Stay on Target.
Imagine you’re applying for a “dream job” but requirements say, “Must be a self-starter.” This is one of those things. Gaining productivity in your day is about learning how to manage yourself as your would any employee. That means being self-aware and self-disciplined.
There are quite a few ways to learn self-discipline, because to be honest a lot of us are not prepped for this. Parents or whoever raised us, (for the most part) often woke us up, got us off to school, made sure we went to the doctor, made sure groceries were in the house — so on and so forth.
Self-discipline is one of those magical tools for productivity that seems to evade us, and media and peers seem to glorify the enemy, procrastination. It can be hard in our little universe to try and move past the social norm of simply finding a dead-end job and living to work, coming home and “relaxing” and expecting life to just hand good things over to you.
“Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.” — Clint Eastwood
Take a look at yourself and ask when the last time you listened to yourself about what you wanted. When was the last time you got off your couch and did something you had an idea for instead of just thinking about it?
Action speaks louder than words, they say. Take action. Bring your ideas to life, and start taking a shark-sized bite out of your life.
Remember that your time is valuable. No one should be allowed to usurp it or take too much time in your head space (that space is not rent free!). Don’t let people tell you how to do things that you’re confident you can do.
Here are a few beginning steps to self-discipline that I’ve learned:
- Take Action. Don’t just think.
- You’re the boss of you, so listen up!
- Recognize your weaknesses, and your strengths — play to your strengths and build up your weaknesses so that they work for you, not against you.
- Do not allow your brain to convince you that responsibilities can be put off. They can’t and you’re wasting time!
- Realize that you have willpower, and willpower can be strengthened just like any muscle.
- Stop listening to people who want you to “play it safe” and not “take risks”, these people mean well, but they’re holding you back.
- Failure is not the end all be all, dust yourself off and try again.
- You can and you will succeed. Repeat after me until it sticks.
Be prepared for the worst and do everything you can to keep pushing forward.
When I wake up in the morning, I have noticed in the few moments it takes to brush my teeth, I justify if I can “afford” to go back to sleep for 1–2 hours. The answer is always no. My tired brain likes to argue, and I’m certain yours does too.
Your brain is a liar. It will lie to you to keep you from “hurting” and it will lie to you in order to get you to stimulate your “pleasure” center. (No, I don’t mean sex!)
You brain wants you to feel happy and euphoric (yes, that’s a bit redundant.) It doesn’t want you taking risks, because you could fail — it says, “failure is scary.” It’s wrong. It’s a liar. And you do not need to listen to its garbage.
For more on self-discipline, I highly recommend The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. It is a life changer. She and I agree on a big thing, “Motivation is garbage.” And it is. Motivation is another nonsense term given to something you are responsible for and it takes away your responsibility when you say you don’t have the motivation. Empty the cup each day. Refill it each morning. Motivation doesn’t exist — there is only, “I will do this” and “It’s not important to me”.
Being more productive is pretty simple. But, it’s completely up to you. These are simply the tools I can give you. I help to plant the seeds of success, you must water the garden!
With that, I leave you with this quote to think on:
“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” — Jim Rohn
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Johannus M. Steger is a Dallas, Texas blogger, vlogger, student, and fiction writer. He has a love for all things Fantasy and coffee, and leads a successful group of like-minded individuals in goal-and-task setting every Friday. He is published through The Huffington Post and a horror anthology, “Infinite Darkness”.
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Connect with me on Social Media:
Twitter: @ AuthorSteger
Instagram: @ books.n.brawnz
Youtube Channel: Fantasy & Coffee