"Focus on being productive instead of busy."--Tim Ferriss
Believe it or not, your daily routines can determine your success in the future. The habits that you start in order to be organized and productive now can be a precursor for success. Think about it. Are your daily activities making you productive?
Being organized is part of being productive. And how you measure your productivity is related to the little things you do on a daily basis. And it begins the moment you awake until you tuck in bed at night - your 24 hours are no different from everybody else. We all just use these hours differently.
Some make use of their time wisely and get it figured out from the beginning. Usually, it's the most successful people that are. The rest of us could use some more help and practice.
If we struggle not knowing the difference between being productive from being busy, these are what we need to level up our productivity game:
1. Plan Every Action in Advance
Use a planner to get your tasks prioritized. A planner can definitely provide opportunities to do just that.
Advance planning helps you think of solid priorities for the day by estimating how much time you can give to a certain task. You can even assign, either more time or more resources, in order to get it done. Whatever your course of action, it is always made ahead of time anticipating all factors.
Planning in advance sets your expectations right and then prepare accordingly - the methodical approach that works for all planner layouts. The purpose to the layout and the repetition is to lead your habits in a structured way. As you already know, creating positive habits can pave the way for nurturing the right attitude for success later on.
- Set Aside Time to Strategize
Planning ahead is a strategy as well. It enables you to get ready, wisely and promptly. It also promotes proper time management.
We are all prone to working “hard” as opposed to working “smart”. Our choices may not be the most productive way of doing things. That's because we don't know any other way. Our minds always lock into a misconception in productivity which is being busy is effective.
There's a huge gap in our understanding of what busy and being productive really implies. They don't always mean the same thing.
Being productive means making proactive and positive choices that get more done in less time. You can be highly productive without being busy all day. Whereas, being busy simply connotes that you had not planned ahead and is now cramming everything into a short window of time.
- Waste No Time
Our time is valuable and no one can ever get back all the time we waste away. This happens when you don't follow a schedule or a routine.
The easiest way to manage time is to plot a schedule on your planner in the interval that suits you or your lifestyle. If you adapt to a certain scheduling method already, then go ahead and use that. But in case you don't know where to start, a planner has everything you need.
Block off your schedules daily and assign a task to each of them. For example, if you're able to do certain tasks in a span of two hours, then you can pace off your schedules accordingly. And then proceed by doing what you intended on the time you meant to do it on your planner.
The key here is to be consistent. If it suits you, do this daily without changing anything until you become comfortable with it. If you need more time later, then adjust. You can even schedule time spent for doing personal things. Make use of your time in a manner which gives you some breathing room.
- Focus on What's Important, Not What Is Urgent
According to author Stephen Covey (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People), you are better off scheduling your priorities instead of prioritizing your schedule.
How are they different, you ask? It's a matter of focus. You can be more productive if you do the most important task even if they are not due. If you do that, you can get the more important things out of the way and then end up with the smaller tasks.
One way to do this is to assign your day with up to three major things to focus on like how Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square & Founder of Twitter, managed his 16-hour days running two major global brands. He was able to manage his time well because he assigns one focus point per day, every day of the week and run the day with that theme. The rest, he says, can become priorities of the other days.
Here's where a planner comes in most handy. Planners are already sectioned off into Daily, Weekly or Monthly parts. You can use the daily section to assign one focal point per day and zoom in only on tasks that relate to that. This way, you are able to make room for five important tasks per day for five days straight. And then add some secondary ones relating. This will work to fight off distractions systematically.
- Delegate Some Tasks
Some days you can be a superhero and do everything alone. But there will be days where you feel you can't do it all.
Some tasks are best done alone, yes, and in those tasks, you can be as productive as you want to be. However, productivity can also be achieved through teamwork and cooperation. If you have a team with you, make sure you don't carry all the weight alone.
No man is an island. During the times where a task is too much, ask for help. Delegate and see the wonders of what two heads can do instead of just one.
- Set Healthy Morning Habits
Morning routines are excellent pacemakers for the day. They can reset your energy levels if needed, which is also an important measure of productivity, if you’re a morning person.
Energy levels are different for everyone. How we manage that can affect how productive we can be during the waking hours of our day.
They don't even have to be difficult habits. Healthy morning habits include exercise, a good old body stretch, drinking a cup of lemon tea to detox the body or even something as simple as meditation.
As a matter of self-improvement, setting healthy morning habits are guaranteed to keep your energy levels high especially when you are consistent, disciplined and practice these habits a lot.
- Give In to Breaks
There is nothing wrong with wanting a little break. In fact, you can be most productive if you don't allow your energy to drain away unnecessarily.
Getting away from your work or task and taking a short 15-minute break can make a huge difference. Make it part of your daily schedule. Do it is as a matter of self-preservation.
Allow yourself room to breathe in between tasks. That's why a planner can help set the pace. Work and get things done but always take middle-of-the-day breaks or take days off in every week.
Always remember that being productive is a choice you make by committing to certain routines and habits that guarantee its outcome. Practice and make consistent choices. You're only as productive as you let yourself be.