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So on my To-Do list right now is;
This doesn’t include the reading I want to fit in, my daily exercise routines, podcasts I like to listen to, trips I’m planning for, prepping for my forthcoming wedding party and spending time with family & friends!
It’s so easy and I do it so frequently to write a list of daily tasks that looks something like;
Hasten to add with a to-do list like that my fail rate of accomplishing all my ‘To Do’s’ in a day is close to 100%!
In today’s episode I’m going to explain why this approach doesn’t work and what to do instead to double your productivity and have some fun in the process!
So I have a history of being a productivity nightmare! Seriously it’s been the one thing that’s really held me back over the years.
I’ve been guilty of overthinking, over procrastinating, allowing my emotions to control my behaviors and just generally going week to week, sometimes year to year without really achieving much at all.
I have recently discovered three habits that seem to be at the very heart of it and have changed my productivity levels immeasurably without me feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
So I’m going to share these 3 with you plus some more tips which undoubtedly help with packing as much in to your day as you want to without feeling like you’re working 24/7.
Oh my gosh if I could sing one huge word from a massive signboard in the busiest intersection in the world it would be ‘Get Clarity!’ Ok that’s two but you get my meaning.
I’ve spoken about this in other podcast episodes, but having a lack of clarity for what your vision or goals are will lead to overwhelm, stress, procrastination, and massive self-doubt.
You think you want to go one way, but you’re not sure, so you wax and weave a bit thinking another way may be better and wax and weave a bit more until you really have no idea where you’re going.
I can tell you from experience all you end up doing is wearing yourself out and giving up before you truly reap the benefits of all your hard work.
I’m not saying you have to know step by step every single move you’re going to make, this isn’t about becoming a Chess Grand Master (although I’m sure that skill would be helpful!)
This is about having a super clear vision of what you want something to look like.
So for example in the last 6 months I have become crystal clear and I mean high quality, best of the best, unbreakable crystal, on where I want to take ‘Your Lifestyle Business’.
I want to educate & inspire action-takers on how to build lifestyle businesses they can run from anywhere in the world whether that be your kitchen table or a beach in Fiji. That’s not just a mission statement it’s precisely what I want to do.
I will do this via blog posts, podcasts, videos, books (I so want to be an author), my social media accounts, lifestyle business experiments (like my eCommerce experiment I’m doing now).
On my blog, I will write about building a lifestyle business, how to get out of your own way and believe in yourself enough to get out there and do it and also inspire via my lifestyle and travel experiences.
Why? Because I can! Because it’s precisely how I’m living my life and traveling the world and grabbing life by the balls! I want anyone who wants too, to feel this level of freedom and excitement and independence.
Can you see how clear my vision is?
The benefits of having that level of clarity are;
Now compare this to a few years back when I was the facebook queen, oh no, maybe social media, nope, online marketing? Ummm, maybe Amazon & ecommerce, No No, personal development?
No clarity led to exhaustion & burnout. (Please note I have no regrets. We created an amazing life for ourselves, changed our financial fortune and I learned more than I ever would just sitting around doing nothing. So something is always better than nothing).
So my friend get absolutely clear on what you want moving forward and stick to it! Get excited about!
Create your own mission statement of exactly what you want to do and why. You don’t have to publish it if you don’t want to, but read it every single day and believe enough in yourself & your vision to act on it every day.
I have set yearly goals, 90 day goals, 12 week goals, daily goals, weekly goals, you name it I’ve got an Evernote folder for it!
Then I noticed on Instagram people doing these 100 day challenges. Do something for 100 days and create a habit.
A good friend of mine had also completed a 100-day health challenge earlier in the year and so I thought I’d give it a go.
I set three main goals to achieve in 100 days. Three humdingers actually, probably a bit big but hey ho we live and learn.
So it became more like 4 goals!
I then split them down into 20-day segments and set myself mini-milestones to achieve every 20 days.
Wow has this worked for me!
As I record this podcast I’m 58 days in and I’ll be honest I’m not quite achieving all my goals mainly because each one is hugely meaty all on its own. I think next time I may only set one or two, but I’m pretty confident I will achieve at least two of them in the next 52 days.
So why is this one working for me when countless others haven’t?
I think it’s just the timing of it for me. 100 days is just over 3 months which makes it close enough to see the end but far enough away to be reasonably audacious. Then setting 20-day reviews allows me to get really stuck into something and unlike a week which seems to be over before its begun.
I also have a poster on my board above my desk that says 100 Days to Habit and it has 100 days on it which I’m just crossing off each day. It gives me a visual of how many days have passed vs how many days left.
Also, I’ve learned something huge about myself during this time period. I’m terrible at multi-tasking and by multi-tasking I mean doing several different jobs on the same day.
So if I’m focused on writing that’s me for the day.
Recording makes a day of it.
I can’t switch efficiently from writing to recording to eCommerce etc.
So now I have days like today when my goal is to write 2 podcast episodes and 5 MIHM episodes.
Then tomorrow I’ll get on the mic and record my podcast episodes and then get in front of the camera and do the MIHM episodes.
I talk a bit more about this in the batching section which is coming up, but wow is this strategy working for me so you may want to give it a go!
Ok so this one is probably a surprise, but how we feel on a day to day basis and how productive we are intrinsically linked.
If you feel like crap, you’re tired, you’re unhealthy, you eat mind-numbing foods which kill your brain cells, you can’t hope to be as productive or achieve as much as you’d like to in your business or in life.
I know you may not want to hear this depending on your lifestyle, but ever since I started exercising, eating lots more veggies, drinking lots of water, cut right back on alcohol & sugary carbs my productivity and enthusiasm for productivity has increased tenfold!
You don’t need to become an athlete to see marked differences and I’m certainly no nutritionist or fitness expert, but even just walking 30 minutes a day, drinking more water and increasing your intake of live foods & veggies will make a difference to how you feel.
My recommendation by the way – read The China Study – just saying.
Ok so they’re definitely the big 3 that have made the biggest difference to not only my productivity levels but also to how enthusiastic, energetic and vibrant I feel each day meaning I can get more into my day including exercise, time with my family, seeing friends and work stuff.
However, there are a few more habits you can adopt that will also help hugely.
I said above that I’m a horror at multi-tasking and so I tend to stick to one type of task per day. Well having set such meaty goals for my 100 days I quickly realized I couldn’t do them all at the same time, so while I was writing my book, I wasn’t building my eCommerce store and while I was building my eCommerce store I wasn’t recording podcasts or writing blog posts and so on.
So I have adopted the habit of batching.
So I spent a full week, just building the ecommerce store and nothing else. When that was done and I could see the power of focusing in on one thing, I decided to take 10 – 14 days to prep 10 weeks worth of podcasts, videos & blog posts to give me a clear window to now focus on marketing the commerce store and writing my book.
I no doubt will break those tasks into weeks, so perhaps 4 weeks on the store and 4 weeks on the book, we’ll see how it goes, but the goal is in 8 weeks time to spend another 10 days or so prepping my blog content for another 10 weeks.
It means that all your public-facing content is done and you can become incredibly consistent in delivering valuable information.
I’m a bugger for not sticking to my deadlines! In fact, I have only 8 minutes left to finish writing this podcast before I need to start the next one!
Hard deadlines my friend. You have to set hard deadlines. In other words unbreakable deadlines.
This is a discipline which requires a lot of practice. By doing this you start to time how long things actually take you, for instance I know I write at about 1500 words an hour and I hope most of what I write is pretty valuable stuff. But knowing that means I need to set a timer for 2 hours for me to write a podcast or blog post because they’re usually around 3000 words long.
And that’s it! They must be down within that time.
I’m actually practicing trying to get quicker in my writing so I set a timer for 1 hour today and so far have written 2223 words in that hour which is great!
It’s the only way to ensure you can get everything in your day in.
If you don’t stick to deadlines then half your to-do list is left undone and there is no greater demotivated than constantly moving things to the next day and the next day and so on.
Set your deadlines, make them ambitious but realistic and when that alarm goes off what’s done is good enough! (Or you have to sacrifice something else altogether).
He’s faced with something whatever that might be, he looks for a solution and then makes a decision and makes it happen just like that.
In the meantime I’m researching the best options online, reading blog posts, looking at social media accounts to see if this is the best way.
By the time I sit down to tell him my findings he’s done the task, tested the method and knows what works and what doesn’t. It’s mind-blowing to watch actually.
Another skill that requires practice. Making a fast decision is art.
Next time you’re faced with a decision, any decision, what you’re having for dinner tonight, what dress to wear for drinks with friends, what color the logo should be, what your headline is going to be for your next post, set a timer for 60 seconds and make the decision in that time. End of.
Shepherds Pie or Tuna pasta bake – 60 secs tick tock, tick tock – Boom – Shepherds Pie.
Try it out and let me know how it goes.
So we all buy into courses and education which can improve our skills. I certainly do.
But you need to put those courses into action as fast as you can.
I highly recommend blocking out an entire week in your diary to firstly spend just one day consuming the entire course in one go. I use a chrome extension to speed up videos so I can watch faster. Video Speed Controller
By watching the whole thing, you’ll know what you need to do straight away to have the biggest impact.
Then for the next week start to implement all the instructions because the only way to truly learn is by putting it into action.
So next time you’re about to buy a course, ask yourself – have I got time to block out a week in my diary within a week of purchasing the course?
If the answer is No, don’t buy it! Not yet anyway. You can always get it later when you do have the time and if you don’t, it wasn’t that important to you anyway.
As you go through your different tasks, ask yourself over and over, how can I make this easier.
How can I make this more efficient? How can I simplify this process?
The reason is that next time I go to use the nutribullet no doubt the extension would have been moved and I won’t be able to find it. So I’ll spend 10 minutes looking for it before I can get started. The same for the juicer, the extension is a bit dodgy and so you have to fiddle with it for ages before it works.
The answer would be to get a new extension, but for now, if you just leave it plugged into the extension but not plugged into the main units you need it, it works fine.
My point was, he was ruining my efficiency.
It’s the same with work tasks.
With everything you do how can you shortcut things, make things simple.
Do you have an email template you use every time which cost the time to write emails, perhaps you have a set of backgrounds created to easily create quotes for Instagram that you can just plug in and type over the top of with today’s quote.
Do you have sets of pre-listed hashtags for social media or five different types of blog posts you write?
This is such a good tip actually it deserves a podcast of its own, I’ll just add that to my podcast list.
But setting up systems so you’re not starting from ground zero each time is a huge boost to getting things done quickly and easily (and more enjoyable).
Undoubtedly my best times are first thing in the morning. I’m usually up by 5 am at the latest actually.
Since consuming more veggies and less meat there are days I’m up at 4.30 am, and I’m on fire in the morning.
I make myself a cuppa, put on my classical chill out music and write. That is absolutely my writing time no matter what else I have planned for the day.
Unfortunately morning time is when all the exercise classes are so I’m usually out between 7.30 am – 9.30 am, swimming or yoga or something, which is why when I get back I get into one groove or another up until about 3 pm when I start to fade (mainly because I’m still unfit and the mornings exercise has worn me out!)
When is your best time?
Are you a morning person, a night owl? A get it in quick while the kids are at school?
Identify when you work the very best and try to focus your working hours around those times for maximum productivity.
I joke about getting things done while the kids are out, but you must make sure you have some absolute undisturbed time.
Shut yourself away somewhere, tell family members you’re not to be disturbed, turn off social media, put your phone on silent or preferably leave it somewhere else and get your head down.
My time for this is usually 5 am – 6.30 am before school and if I can another couple of hours from around 10 am – 12 pm. Any other times and it just won’t happen, too much else going on and I’m not a night person at all.
Make sure that you have planned exactly what you’re going to do in these undisturbed hours beforehand or the night before, so that when you sit down, you sit down to work, not plan.
This is vital as is and I will repeat for effect, your phone is switched off and all notifications that pop up on your computer are turned off!
Alright, we’re almost there!
We all have stuff we would love to get done every day but how important is it. Must it be done today or can it wait until tomorrow?
Your musts are the things that absolutely must be done today, either because you have made a commitment to yourself or because you have made a commitment to someone else.
Be sure to get your ‘musts’ done first and then later you can do some of your ‘likes’, like playing around with that new app, or reading some blog posts you enjoy or watching youtube videos etc.
You know what your musts vs likes are! Come on, put Instagram down and get on with it!
Last but not least on my list today is self-belief.
I touched on it in point 1 – Get Clarity.
When you know what your vision is, one surefire route to distraction is that you don’t believe in yourself or your vision enough to do the work needed to make it a reality.
So much of our distraction comes from underlying self-doubt and the belief that maybe another way will be easier or faster or less uncomfortable.
Because following your passion isn’t always easy and it may well result in you having to step out of your comfort zone on a regular basis.
The ability to come out of your safe shell is steeped in self-belief. If your belief is that you’re not good enough, it won’t work, everyone else is doing it, you’ve missed the boat etc, then you will allow yourself to easily get distracted and sidetracked and your vision will never come to fruition.
But if you believe so strongly in your vision that you couldn’t care less that other people are doing it. That you can have your little slice of the pie too, that you love it so much you can’t wait to get started every morning and even if you might not be good enough, you’ll darn well try it anyway! It’s unlikely much will stand in your way and you’ll be so focused on your journey you’ll see fewer distractions on your route, which I have to say puts down thinking time massively!
Rather than spending time wondering if you’re on the right path, thinking about it, planning what you’re ‘gonna’ do etc. You’re just on it. Every day!
I saw a great quote yesterday – ‘It took me 10 years to discover I wasn’t a great writer but by then I was too famous to stop!’
Things are so subjective these days who’s to say whether you’re good enough or not!
So why not just get out there and give it a go.
So there you have it, listeners, my 12 point plan to massively increase your productivity!
I have written this post in 80 minutes and it is 3758 words long which is a new record for me! Yippeeee!
This is also what can be achieved when you’re passionate about what you do!
I hope it helps, thanks so much for listening, Live Life on Purpose and of course as always Make It Happen! 🙂