Productivity Tips for the Unproductive.
Is it just me or does it seem like all productivity advice is written by and for already productive people?
They make it seem so simple with their list of tasks and blocking of distractions.
Do you have any idea how many things distract me!??
I can't possibly block them all. I just got distracted by the protective cover on my keyboard (it's a bit broken, there's a flap on the 'n' and...never mind, the point is) I need more than that!
Making a list of my top three tasks for the day is great and all, except we all know to do that and we're still not getting stuff done.
Somethings only work for naturally productive people (or those that have trained at it) as they just need a little focus. We on the other hand need a whole game plan.
So here are my tips for being productive when you're not a Type A achiever extraordinaire .
Start off right
For some reason it's about 503% easier to be productive in the morning. That's why when people get up at four they get more done by seven then I get done all day. Time works differently in the morning. It's just science.
You don't have to get up at four (though I hear great things) but when you get up, try to be as productive as you can straight up. Exercise, eat, shower, do the dishes, fold all the laundry, practice your drum solo, dust the ceiling, ect ect.
Try to start with tasks that are more physical based (but not exhausting) first, before doing things that involve sitting and screens. If you're going to work on a design project or on an article on your computer then start after some cleaning, some exercise, some moving about.
You don't have to spend hours scrubbing but doing a load of dishes or giving your room a quick tidy can boost your mood and get your blood flowing. You get a quick sense of accomplishment that can then propel you to the later tasks.
Start off small
Use the momentum from one task to move you to the next.
Start with emptying the dish drainer and let that carry you to filling the sink, washing dishes, putting things away and wiping benches. Soon the kitchen is clean and you didn't even need massive motivation.
Open your website, let that carry you to organizing and improving a few things and on to creating a new draft post.
Do one push up. Come on, it's just embarrassing to put off one push up, let that carry you throw to the next one, then the next exercise.
Create a flow through your day where you gain energy from one task that pushes you to the next. You work more efficiently and get more done.
Start and finish
Nothing saps productivity like leaving unfinished things behind you as you move through the day. They just sit at the back of your mind, whispering about everything you still have to do until you just......frizzle out
Unfinished tasks, or tails as Arina Nikitina calls them, drain your energy and focus, creates mental stress and prevent us from doing our best work.
Finishing what we start allows us to move to the next task or project with more energy, clarity and a feeling of confidence in ourselves.
(You can read more of Arina Nikitina's "drop the tails method" here. Head on over to her site and check out as many of her videos as you can. They aren't too long and her stuff is really good. She's also interesting to listen to because of her accent which is a huge bonus for me because I usually do very well with audio based learning.)
Start a deadline
Somethings don't have deadlines. Particularly working for yourself, personal projects, or are a stay at home parent.
Laundry doesn't really have a deadline until you actually run out of clothes. Making dinner doesn't have a deadline until its seven and you're starving. Booking an appointment doesn't have a deadline until you take a sip of your morning coffee and OHMYGOSH my teeth (me, this morning).
Have a think and see if you can create a deadline. Get this article done before picking your kids up from school or daycare. Make a coffee date with a friend and run errands before hand.
Think creatively about giving yourself a deadline, the more tangible the better.
Start a plan (but don't follow it blindly)
Of course this one goes against every productivity advice ever given and use it carefully, this is not an excuse to procrastinate. Just pay attention to what you're feeling like in the present moment.
Had you planned to make phone calls this morning but are feeling super inspired to create. Were you planning on writing after lunch but you instead cleaned the whole lounge room and are making great progress sorting out a bunch of stuff that had been dumped on the bookshelf.
Don't force yourself to absolutely stick to a plan if you made it arbitrarily.
If you have to get something done by three then, yeah, definitely do that. Now is not the time to be organizing your linen cupboard. But if the plans you made were more along the lines of, well I guess I can to that tomorrow, then give yourself a little wiggle room.
You can't produce anything, let alone anything wonderful, if you don't ever begin.
Even if you don't really have a plan. If you're not sure what you want to write about. If you don't have all the perfect materials you need.
Nothing these days is permanent. Everything is editable, improvable.
Stop researching ideas, stop looking for the perfect theme, stop writing another to-do list. Just begin.
Productivity is elusive and highly personal. Sometimes advice like creating a daily top three, breaking down the task into tiny bits, setting a timer for twenty minutes are helpful. Some days I find myself thinking everyone must have it worked out already if that's all it takes them, as I struggle along consistently not producing and improving the things I want.
How about you guys?
Obviously, most of you must struggle with productivity since you came to this post. Any secrets? Tips? Advice? Let me know in the comments how you stay productive or shoot me an email. I love to hear from you, seriously it makes my day.
I'm in the middle of creating a productivity goal smashing course specifically for people who suck at productivity and goal smashing.
Want in for the beta (cheaper) round?
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