The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need To Improve Your Personal Productivity

A new take on personal productivity

Productivity is dependant upon three things:

1. A clear understanding of what’s important (your goals come from this).
2. A simple approach.
3. Consistency.

That’s all I do to get a lot of important things done every day. (FYI: it’s 10:57am and I’ve already watched four training videos, called my clients, read my important email messages, written three blog posts, played with my son and had two cups of coffee. )

Do what’s important!

I get a lot of important – this is the key – things done because I only do what is important. I say important a lot in this type of post. Are you starting to catch on?

Here’s how I do it (and you can too)

Let’s break my method down.

First, understand what is important

You have to start with getting an understanding of what is important to you. You have to do this on three levels:

1. What is important to you? (E. g. What makes you tick? For me, it’s all about family).

2. What do I have to do to succeed in my area/s of importance? (E.g. What do you have to do to succeed? For me, the question is “What do I have to do to provide my family with the lifestyle they deserve?”

3. What do I have to do today? (E.g. Which task/s will get me closer to achieving my goals?)

In understanding what is important to you and what you have to do to achieve your goals you simplify your daily activities.

Let’s look at an example

Let’s say you determine that travel is the most important thing to you. Let’s say you determine that you want to travel for at least 6 months each year.

In this case, it would be crazy for you to look for an employee position as you will be moving on every 6 months. Who would employ you?

Knowing what’s important will guide you to roles and options that are more flexible. Perhaps you will create an online business that makes you passive income?

Based on determining what is important you can start acting on only those tasks that get you closer to making enough money in a way that lets you travel every 6 months. This eliminates all the tasks that do not get you closer to that goal.

A quick note: you will have goals on multiple levels. That’s okay. Just understand that at all levels you need to follow the same simple approach.

A simple approach.

The best approach is always a simple approach. I don’t care how complex a situation is. You can always break it down into simple and manageable chunks. Simple is where the results are.

Here is my simple approach:

– Determine the three most important things you can do to achieve your ultimate goals.
– Don’t do anything that doesn’t fit into these three areas.

Couldn’t be simpler. Now, remember simple doesn’t mean easy. The hard work comes at the beginning in determining what’s important.

You have to be consistent

Most systems fail because they are not followed consistently. Perhaps this is because we have a short attention span. You see, this is one of those times that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “

All systems are only as successful as their component parts and you are the largest component of your own personal productivity system.

A quick review

Let’s recap:

1. Define what’s important.
2. Build your goals and plans based on the important stuff.
3. Choose three key areas that will get you closer to your goals and help you action your plans.
4. Only start (and complete) tasks that fit within these three areas.
5. Rinse and repeat.

Related Posts:

– Seven Ways to Achieve Results
– My Unconventional Approach to Getting Things Done
– How I Tried to Send Myself Crazy
– 5 Things That Suck About Improving Your Personal Productivity
– the 5 Simplest Steps You’ll Ever Take to Simplify Your Life

10 Tips to Improve Your Personal Productivity

Many of us know the answer to the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer, “One bite at a time”! Sadly, for many of us our To Do Lists can outweigh an elephant and yet we actually tackle our To Do Lists like we would eat an elephant – by checking off one item after another. Unfortunately at some point we get too full to finish eating the elephant so we give up and the same is true for our To Do Lists. They just keep building and the task of actually completing all the items on our To Do List becomes overwhelming.

A few simple Personal Productivity Tips can help you tame your To Do List and in turn help you live the life you always dreamed of.

Personal Productivity Tip 1: Set goals. Don’t just survive your day; thrive by taking steps every day that move you toward your dreams. Too often we get so caught up in the process of being busy that we fail to plan our lives. We end up reacting to the incoming requests that present themselves each day in the form of emails, phone calls, mail, interruptions, etc. and let them guide us through our days and hence, our lives.

Personal Productivity Tip 2: Plan Ahead. Spend 10 to 15 minutes each night looking over your To Do list, appointments and projects and prioritize and schedule the most important items for action the following day. Take this one step further by actually assigning the completion of these priority items as an appointment on your calendar. This is an appointment you must keep with yourself. Make sure you factor in some down time and procrastination time (you know you do it). It is important to make your schedule realistic and achievable. It is also important to have time to recharge your batteries to be able to operate at your optimum productivity. Actually schedule your sleep time on your calendar. Don’t assume you can work an 80 hour week without burning yourself out.

Personal Productivity Tip 3: Make time for what matters most. Make sure that the tasks you assign yourself are in alignment with your goals. If not, re-evaluate their importance and the priority you give them.

Personal Productivity Tip 4: Determine if you are living to work or working to live. If you work 60 plus hours a week and hate it but do it just to have the big house, big car, etc. but are too worn out and stressed out to enjoy it, is it really worth it? Try living on less, not just less stuff but less stress.

Personal Productivity Tip 5: Set limits. It is a well know rule that things expand to fill the space and time available. The larger your space the more stuff you get to fill it. The more storage you have the more stuff you store in all those containers and closet and the more time you have to work on a project the more time it takes to get it done. More isn’t always better, sometimes more is just more. Have you ever procrastinated when you knew you had to accomplish a particular task that day only to wait until the very last 30 minutes of the day to get it done. What if you had started the day by using the first 30 minutes to focus on that project and then had the rest of the day to complete a few more tasks and then since all your work that you assigned for the day was complete you could take the rest of the day off? Wouldn’t the reward be worth the effort?

Personal Productivity Tip 6: Stage the night before. By prepping your briefcase, kid’s backpacks, packing lunches, laying out clothes and getting gas the night before you set the stage for a stress free morning. And starting the day right can set a positive trend for the whole day. A few minutes at night are easy to come by but a few minutes extra in the morning can mean the difference between being late for work and being on time. Even a few minutes late is LATE and it doesn’t send a good message to your co-workers, boss, or even friends you meet for social outings. If you find yourself excusing it by saying “it’s only a few minutes” realize those few minutes can have a large cost when you are not perceived as caring about your job or other people’s time. The party on the other side may be thinking “why can’t you just leave a few minutes earlier so you aren’t always running late?”

Personal Productivity Tip 7: Institute the Family 15: Learn to delegate and get everyone in the home or office to pitch in and put things away. Set a timer and spend 15 minutes before heading off to bed to pick up everything from the living room, dining room, kitchen counters, etc that belongs in other rooms and return them to their proper home. Spending a few minutes each day helps to prevent major piles that will require a complete Saturday to clean up.

Personal Productivity Tip 8: Limit internet and TV time. Does watching 4 hours of TV a night really contribute to your life? Don’t get me wrong, TV can provide entertainment and relaxation as it doesn’t require much thought but don’t let it stand in the way of achieving your goals. Surfing the internet or getting lost in a sea of emails can be a huge time waster as well. If you’ve ever said “If only I had the time!” chances are you do but you need to spend it more wisely. Keep a journal for one week and track how you spend your time. This will help you identify your time wasters and help you make a conscious decision to change these limiting habits and instill new ones that help you achieve all you want in life.

Personal Productivity Tip 9: Learn to make decisions quickly. Think of piles as delayed decisions. Whether it is piles of paper or piles of stuff, the pile was created by the failure to decide what to do with it and/or the failure to act on the decision. Have you ever picked up your mail and glanced through it on the way into the house, identifying many items as “junk mail” yet added all of it to the already large pile on your desk or counter to deal with later. These delayed decisions and actions create more work for you later. Next time you get your mail, sort it immediately. 3 types of items: action items, reference items and recyclable items (a.k.a. trash). Immediately put the recycling in a recycling bin and don’t allow marketers to add tasks to your already overloaded To Do list. If you weren’t actively seeking the item that is now on sale be critical on whether you really need to make a special trip to get something that you will only need to find a place to store once you bring it home. Chances are you don’t really need it. Reference items should only be kept if you really feel the need to refer to them at another time and if so you should file it immediately. If you are going to go through the trouble of keeping it make sure you know where to find it when you need it. The action items should be given priority and processed during your daily evening planning session. Consider creating a tickler system and adding items to your calendar/planner for completion.

Personal Productivity Tip 10: Don’t be an info junkie. More information doesn’t necessarily change your life for the better. Do you ever save magazines, newsletters, etc. and yet 6 months later never read a single issue? Yet you keep them because you have the best of intentions to get to them as you feel that there will be some inspirational story or tidbit of info that you just don’t want to miss out on. Do you read tips on subjects you are interested in improving in your life only to fail to take action on the advice given? Let the old magazines and journals go and start fresh.

Only through action do we change our lives. If you want to experience Personal Productivity start by changing some of your limiting habits and build new ones which will guide you towards a more fulfilling life. Start small and build on your success. Our challenge to you, pick one of the Personal Productivity Tips presented to you in this article and institute it as a new habit in your life today!

Let Me Show You How to Double Your Personal Productivity

Imagine what would happen to you if you doubled your personal productivity? How would that affect your work?

Have you ever finished your day and reflected on your lack of progress? You seem to have been busy all day yet achieved very little. Have you ever looked at your “to do” list and realized that it is longer than it was at the beginning of the day because nothing has been crossed off?

When you are managing a successful career or developing the business of your own, your time is in short supply and therefore invaluable. Your time is fixed. You can’t get any more. This means that you have to do all the things that you need to do in a fixed time frame. The clock doesn’t stop ticking. The secret is to make the best use of your time without working any harder. It is a case of personal management.

Logically speaking, the first step to better managing yourself in relation to time is to find out what you are currently doing.

· Measure how your time is being used.
· Check out how much of your time is being wasted.
· Who are the people that waste your time?
· What do they do?
· Can they be neutralized?
· How much of your precious time do you personally waste because of your work habits?

Keep a Time Log

You may say “I don’t have time to mess around doing that!” Keeping a time log is a very effective way to discover your current work habits. You’ll gain a tremendous amount of information about your use of time even after trying it for one day. It seems that once you start measuring what you are doing or what is happening to you, it creates a situation where you become conscious of your habits. Once this happens, you have the ability to examine them and if necessary, change them.

For one week keep a log of your activities. Record each activity as the day progresses. Throughout your day record the time whenever you start or stop any activity. You can use a stopwatch or put a timer on your desk. Be as detailed as possible in your time log.

Whenever your attention shifts from one thing to another, make a note of the diverting activity, no matter how trivial. This means that you will record all interruptions, noting their sources and reasons. Give as much detail as possible. Make a note on how much time you spent on each item. Set a priority for every single item. After a day, you will be able to see what proportion of your time was spent on high priority work.

Record your ideas on how you might have done things better. Write these comments as you go along. This reduces the chance of overlooking details.

Keep the time log close at hand. When you answer the phone, write down the phone call. When someone pokes their head in to make a comment or pass on information, reach over and jot it down on the log sheet.

Use abbreviations and shortcuts.

Show people by their initials.

Indicate interruptions with a big “X”.

For phone calls, use a letter “C” with an arrow pointing to the “C” for an incoming call and an arrow pointing away from it for your outgoing calls.

Each day go over the following points.

· Every time you shift your attention – log it. Be specific.
· If you note a 12 minute block as “Phone calls” you will not be able to tell if they were necessary or time wasters.
· Record everything.
· Do not skip over socialising or brief interruptions because they seem minor.

You are trying to determine how much of your total time is frittered away in such minor activities.

Note how much time you spend on interruptions, emails, reading blogs, web surfing, planning, phone calls, problem solving, research, filing, eating, drinking tea or coffee day-dreaming, doing meaningful work, going to the bathroom and thinking. If you get out of your chair, it probably means you need to make an entry in your time log. At the end of a typical day, I end up with around 80 log entries.

Warning:

Log your time as you go Don’t try to catch up at the end of the day.

When I first checked myself using a time log, I was astounded. Out of my 58 hour week I only did 13 hours productive work. As a self-employed consultant, this was my only source of my income. I soon changed the way I operated and managed myself differently.