Productivity is a buzzword these days.
There are apps, checklists, mental exercises, books, and entire websites dedicated to helping us become our most productive selves. Why the sudden push toward productivity?
This need has grown out of a new age in which we have the world at our fingertips. There are a million different things vying for our attention, and we can often find ourselves distracted, unfocused, and generally spread very thin. Hence, productivity. Being a successful individual in a world full of virtual connection and distractions is uncharted territory–we’re all scrambling to figure it out.
Part of the problem we encounter is that productivity is a relative term. The standard by which we measure productivity changes from person to person, and what boosts productivity for one person will not necessarily help the next. Perhaps the first step in this battle toward a more productive life is to determine what productivity looks like for you personally.
Here are few questions to get you started:
1. What is important to me?
This is a big question and your list could become very long. I encourage you to think of it as a fluid list. What is a top priority to you today may not be tomorrow. Allow yourself some flexibility and the freedom to add and subtract from the list as necessary. Also, keep in mind that you are the only one who can make this list. It requires some introspection to determine what you really want versus what people around you want. This list is about you and your life. Take some time to think about it, then make the list with the understanding that it will change and evolve as you do–and that’s okay.
2. What are my short term and long term goals?
Do you want to go to grad school? Start your own business? Move someplace new? Dig deep and start thinking of these things as “goals” rather than “dreams.” Goals are attainable; dreams are hypothetical. When you’ve made a list of your goals, you can use them to motivate you throughout the day. Suddenly, an eight hour work day is another step toward paying off your car, or a great meeting is the opportunity to grow your client base and your business. Again, this list will evolve as you evolve and give you the motivation to work toward building a life you love.
3. How should I approach my work?
There are several facets to answering this question. One is understanding your personality. Are you an organized, logical thinker or do you tend to be a creative, abstract thinker? Do you thrive in ordered work environments or do you require spontaneity and freedom? 16 Personalities offers a great test that doesn’t take long and will give you a foundation from which to answer this question. After taking the test, review times when you are most productive. Is it early in the morning? Late at night? When you’re around people? When you’re working from home? Honestly evaluate yourself so you can capitalize on your natural tendencies. There’s no reason to try to make your habits look like someone else’s if that doesn’t work for you; however, if there are habits you need to break or make, you’ll be able to see them clearly through this process.
4. What does productivity look like for me?
Here it is, your opportunity to discover what your productive day looks like. Look back on days when you’ve felt empowered and able to accomplish everything on your plate. What made those days different? Put it to yourself this way: I will feel productive today if ___________________________. Determining your standard for productivity will help power you toward accomplishing your goals daily. By getting it out there, you’re free from trying to measure up to some imaginary, undefined standard of productivity that will only leave you feeling like there’s always something else to do. Set your standard for the day and let that be enough.
Every day is different and comes with its own set of requirements. With each of these questions and any goals you set for yourself, be flexible but focused. Rigidity is counter-productive and can actually cripple us when it comes to productivity. Once you’ve determined your goals, discovered your personality strengths and weaknesses, and determined what your productive day looks like, you’ll be able to filter through and apply the productivity boosting tips and tricks that flood the internet. Know what works for you and move forward from there.
Need help with this process? As a business productivity coach, I give my clients practical tools so they can become laser-focused and accomplish their goals. If you’re ready to dive in and build the life and business you’ve always wanted, contact me!