Improving our personal activity is something we all strive for, but it’s so easy to get distracted by daily life isn’t it? The kids, your mates, your phone, the internet, CORONAVIRUS..and we’ve all experienced procrastination at some point our lives. But in the spirit of, ‘why put off until tomorrow something that you can do today?’, I’ve put together an easy 8 step programme to ensure that you are at your most productive, all of the time and especially as some structure now is really important!.
- Tell Everyone What You Are Doing – There is no bigger killer to productivity than interruptions, and these can come at you from all angles; a text from your friend, a social media notification, the other half wanting a quick chat…. Of course part of life is making time for all those things as well as work, but there will be times when the task in hand has to come first. The best way to avoid these types of distractions is to let people know what you are doing. Tell your family or coworkers that you need some time to concentrate on work and cannot be disturbed. Family in particular might struggle with this; of course they love you and want your time and focus, but explain that having no interruptions now means that they can have your full and undivided attention later. Maybe you’ll have to let some of your clients know that you aren’t available for the time being. It can be helpful to send an email a few days in advance and let them know that you won’t be available on that date to take calls or respond to email. Switch your phone off, or at the very least put it on silent.
- Decide Upon A Time Frame – It’s always a mistake to start working with the mindset of ‘I’ll work for as long as I feel like’, it’s like giving yourself permission to slack off, and inevitably you won’t ‘feel like’ it for very long! Set yourself a specific target and commit to it, that way you’ll find that the hours seem to go by much quicker. By telling yourself how long you will be working for or what time you’ll be finishing you’ll find yourself clock-watching far less, and therefore getting on with what you’re meant to be doing and improve your personal activity..
- Early Bird Or Night Owl? – While we are on the subject of time, it’s worth mentioning that a day where you decide to be extremely productive is not a day like any other, and so it is a good idea to break from your normal routine so that it doesn’t feel like one. Don’t be at your desk by 9am, or start work after lunch – go to the extreme! If you have a major goal to accomplish, start early – 5am, and work through! Or, if that doesn’t suit your lifestyle, start late and pull an all-nighter. We are all only too fond of complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish what we need to, but the truth is that we just need to manage those 24 hours effectively in order to achieve our goals.
- No Treats! – It’s not just others who pose a distraction risk when we are trying to be productive – often we are our own worst enemies. As I said earlier, an extremely productive day is not a normal day, so the normal rules do not apply. Maybe you are someone who likes to listen to music while you work, or likes to have the TV on in the background if you work from home. Perhaps it isn’t unusual for you to schedule a little social media break during your work day. That’s fine normally – but not today, not for achieving maximum productivity. For at least the first few hours of working resist the urge to stick to your normal way of doing things, that way when your motivation starts to flag, sticking some music on for half hour or checking facebook for ten minutes (set an alarm! Don’t get sucked in!) could provide a powerful boost. Try to delay these ‘pleasure points’ for as long as possible, and only use them when you really need them; shoot too early and there is nothing left when you need motivational ammunition.
- Recharge And Refuel – And do it early! Plan to eat lunch BEFORE you are ravenously hungry; if you are sitting at a desk take a little break BEFORE you get a numb bum! The idea is to refuel and keep going, and the key to this is to plan your breaks BEFORE you desperately need them – that way they will be shorter, allowing you to get back to what you are doing as soon as possible.
- And Make Those Breaks Productive – Breaks are incredibly important, but if you can make those breaks productive ones then so much the better – it is about having a ‘break’ from what you are doing, not a ‘rest’. While you are eating lunch maybe you can be roughly planning the next step of your task or updating your diary; make sure that every break reinforces your sense of activity and accomplishment, otherwise before you know it you finished lunch an hour ago and you’re still scrolling through 140 comments on Margaret’s post about her dead cat.
- Don’t Get Overwhelmed – The very second that your mindset starts to waiver from ‘incredibly productive and focused’ to, ‘There’s no way I’m gonna finish this’, you are in trouble. Think for a second about those individuals on a weight loss journey – as soon as they start to get overwhelmed about the amount they want to lose as a whole – their end game – they start to despair. But, if they focus on losing that next pound, and stop thinking about the 100 they have to lose after that, they carry on, and are motivated to continue. Stop thinking about your end goal and just focus on the next step of the task. The finish line is still there, it isn’t going away, but you don’t need to worry about how far away it is – just focus on getting there.
- Don’t Stop, No Matter How Long It Takes – As humans we form habits that are hard to break, and stopping short is one of them. If you quit now, what is to stop you from quitting next time, and the time after that, and the time after that? Luckily success is also habit forming, so make your day of extreme productivity a new habit! If thoughts such as, ‘I can’t do this’, or ‘I’ve had enough, I’ll finish it tomorrow’ start to cloud your mind, take a deep breath, reset your brain, and power through. Eventually by making these days of extreme productivity part of your life’s routine, they will become ‘normal’ to you, and you will have raised your own bar of what you can accomplish.
It is very easy to fall into the ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ trap, and we’ve all done it at one time or another. But, these are not the words or thoughts that drive motivation and success; while you are planning to do it tomorrow, someone else is doing it today. Follow these steps in order to enhance your own productivity, and ensure that the person arriving at the finish line today is you.