In Part 1 of this How To Be More Productive blog series I shared all the essential tech tools and apps that you need to help you skyrocket your productivity and remove the stress from you To-Do list. Here, in Part 2, I focus on how to help you cultivate the right attitude and frame of mind so that you actually get your whiz done and arrive ready to boss it.
So here goes...
1. Prepare by looking after yourself.
Maybe I'm biased but I really can't stress how important it is that we look after all aspects of our health to ensure the work we do is to the best of our ability. That means getting all the sleep you need (7+ hours each night), eating well and moving your booty (frequently). Or whatever else fills up your cup. Do these things first thing in the morning if, like me, you find that otherwise they just remain intentions as you push them later and later into the day until you're too tired and decide to hit the sack instead. For instance, I meditate in the morning otherwise I am too tired in the evening and fall asleep .
2. Plan your day the night before.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. The premise is that the less time you spend faffing on unimportant plans and tasks in the morning the more able you will be to hit the ground running in the morning. Let's not fool ourselves, we can use use planning as a for of procrastination. It's important to set the tone for the day by getting stuck in as soon as possible. In the morning all you have to do is quickly review your to-do list and time plan first thing, then get on and do it.
3. Aim for 95% perfection.
Manage you expectations. Stretch yourself but know what you are capable of. Whilst being a perfectionist can be a testament to your ambition, intentions and the quality of your work, perfection is an elusive concept and if you spend forever tweaking this an' that you'll never press send/publish/buy etc. By aiming for near perfection you'll be working and creating to the best of your ability at that moment but still allowing yourself the comfort of knowing that there is always room for the fruits of your labour to evolve and improve. And evolve they surely will.
4. Work with your natural rhythm + establish a routine.
In other words, manage your energy not your time. You’ll naturally make much better use of your time if you work in line with your your natural rhythm.
Be self-aware and honest with yourself. What works for you? Do you find replying to emails all day distracting or do you prefer to deal with them straight away? (I'll go into dealing with emails more in Part 3). Do you find that you work better first thing in the morning or are there certain tasks that you like to do after lunch? Personally, I prefer 'doing' things first thing (ticking off those pesky to-do's) so that I can sit down write/create/do the important work in the afternoon with a uncluttered mind. Others swear by doing the hardest task first, which might work better for your if your are a procrastinator. Experiment a little until you find a routine that works for you.
5. Set the scene
Create the right atmosphere by keeping it a designated work zone. People that like working rain quite cafe's are onto something because researchers have shown that a moderate level of ambient noise can increase creativity.
Remove clutter - mental, physical and virtual. Remove distractions with the Self Control App and the Pomodoro App. You've heard the phrase "tidy desk, tidy mind", right? I like to create head space by doing a brain-dump whenever I feel as though I am getting distracted. Get it all down on paper and then move on.
6. Be prepared to share and delegate.
You can not do everything, and certainty not to a decent standard. Team work, baby. It’s vital even if you’re usually a solo ranger. You know those tasks that you reeaaally hate doing? Consider finding someone that can do them for you. I'm not saying that you should palm off all your lame jobs and tasks onto friends and family. But there is no shame in asking for help or hiring help for that matter (that is what virtual assistants are there for after all). Sometimes you have just got to man up (for lack of a better phrase) and do your washing or reply to those emails that only you have the answer for, but other times delegating that job to someone else is a completely valid decision, especially when it's within their zone of genius.
7. Don’t fear procrastination.
I know that this sounds crazy but procrastination can actually be productive. Yes, productive. Of course, there is a point at which we need to stop procrastinating and actually get on with things but with a little reflection it can be immensely helpful. It can highlight what's sucking your energy and you could be delegating - what do you consistently avoid? What you do or think about whilst your procrastinate can also indicate the passions and talents that you could be pursuing. Often, when we are procrastinating over something or putting it off it's because we know that it will be the next big step for us, and that can be scary.
8. Don't be afraid to ride the wave of inspiration!
You've created an awesome routine and settled into your productive groove. You know how important it is to take breaks and rest. And then your hit by a way of inspiration and want to work through your break...What should you do?!
I like to suggest that you take the break even if you are getting stuck into a task BUT if this really is an inspired stroke of genius then don't be afraid to go a little off piste. You'll soon work out if you are the kind of person that needs those breaks regardless of your whims or if you are more of an immersive creature that just follows the current when it sweeps you off course. Essentially, its important to have a routine, but as already mentioned, its always best to work with your rhythm.
9. Adopt the mindset of a pro.
"What would Beyonce do?" ain't all that far off from what you should be asking yourself. Imagine yourself at in your dream job and ask yourself "What would professional me do?" Act like a pro and before your know it your will be one.
The same goes for your friendships, relationships, health and studies: If I loved my body what would I do? If I always treated others with the respect they deserved what would I say? If I knew that I was worthy of charging more for my services what would I do? If I valued my time more how would I spend it?
10. JUST SIT YOUR ASS DOWN!
Its not about being a hard worker, or even a 'smarter' to 'better’ worker. It's about turning up and doing the work. It’s about discipline. And this needn’t be hard (especially when there are these apps and the Pomodoro technique to help you. But more on that next time).
I am big fan of half-goals because I can trick myself into those bigger tasks without too much trouble. Discipline doesn't require an iron willpower when your bum is at the chair in front of your desk. Now that you're halfway there you might as well go the whole hog. Ask yourself "what is the next small step that I can take in the right direction?" Bum on chair. Laptop open. Distraction-free zone established. Go time!
BISH. BASH. BOSH.
What'cha think? Go ahead, try some of these changes on for size and report back in the comments below - I wanna here how you do!
P.S. Did you miss Part 1: The Tech Tools + Apps? Find it here. And don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for Part 3 in which you'll learn a game-changing productivity technique plus a load of other tips and tricks.
P.P.S. I love to share tips like these with my Facebook tribe that you can join using the button below: