Nothing stimulates joy like getting things done and doing the right things. You become happier when you are focused and productive.
So what is productivity and how do we improve it?
What is Personal Productivity?
Personal productivity means different things to different individuals. Some might define personal productivity as accomplishing your milestones without failing, or setting goals and completing them.
So what, then, is personal productivity?
Personal productivity can be thought of as completing a set of tasks that moves you forward in the direction of your life purpose without causing you to sacrifice other life aspects.
Personal productivity can be improved by identifying your key objectives and what actionable steps you need to take to fulfill them.
In all of this, it’s important to remember that personal productivity is different than workplace productivity. Here’s why.
Personal Productivity Vs. Workplace Productivity
Workplace productivity deals with your level of efficiency in accomplishing corporate goals and providing goods or top-notch solutions for customers. For instance, productivity in the workplace could incorporate the speed at which you respond to a query as a customer service assistant or design a website for a web development agency.
The 4 Components of Productivity
Penny Zenker, a notable Productivity Coach, propounded four essential components of productivity: purpose, language, focus, and physiology. Let’s break these down.
According to Penny,
“When you are on a course or purpose that goes beyond what’s in it for you or what you need to do, you gain a higher sense of being more productive and a feeling that you are working on something significant.”((Penny Zenker: The Productivity Zone))
One way to find your sense of purpose is by answering your “Whys.”
Language is another crucial component. It’s how you express yourself in describing the world around you.
Any time you utilize negative words during self-talk, you are conditioning yourself to produce negative situations.
Productivity can be improved by paying attention to the language you use. That way, you can change your words consciously and then talk yourself into becoming more productive.
Therefore, try to change your language to improve your output!
You only have 24 hours each day. How do you guide your energy within this limited time-frame? The answer lies in being focused.
Focus is the art of directing your energy towards your objectives. It is eliminating every form of distraction and achieving your set goals.
You need a great body to be productive. That’s why your physiology influences your level of productivity.
For instance, what you eat affects what you can do. If you continuously neglect the habit of eating healthy, you will continually undermine your performance and efficiency.
So what’s the way forward?
Take good care of your body!
Productivity can be improved by eating healthy, exercising regularly, and spending time with nature.
How to Evaluate Productivity
Evaluating your productivity is an important step as it helps you keep track of what you’re doing right and wrong on your journey to completing your goals. Try these five proven steps to keep you on track.
1. Review Your Completed To-Do Lists
One of the strategic means of assessing your productivity is by examining your completed to-do lists. You can accurately look at your activities in the past two to three weeks. Find out what you have accomplished. Estimate how many tasks, how long each task took you, and find the ones you failed to complete.
Were you distracted? Busy? Or lacking sufficient time? The essence of this assessment is to enable you find a solution that can assist you in completing your objectives on time.
2. Track Your Time
Tracking your time is highly crucial to determining your productivity level. You only have 24 hours, just like any other person. How you spend each second is what differentiates you from the rest of the world.
While some are experts at managing their time productively, others retire at night without any significant thing they have accomplished all day.
You just can’t live your life like that.
Track your time to derive an accurate evaluation of your accomplishments and performance in your workplace.
3. Practice Accountability
While you can collaborate with an accountability partner to monitor your progress, Jones Loflin, a keynote speaker and a prolific author, also recommends that you ask yourself some reflective questions daily((Jones Loflin:10 Ways To Measure Personal Productivity)):
- Was I productive today or reactive?
- Have I accomplished any of my short-term goals?
- What took my time today?
- Who is excited that I was part of their day?
- What did I accomplish today that will relieve me of stress tomorrow?
- What did I fail to do that can make my tomorrow worse off?
While you don’t have to ask all these questions each day, you can ask them at intervals throughout the week.
You can also practice journaling or blog about your experience.
4. Allocate a Time-frame for Your Goals
Establishing a timeline is one of the requirements for creating SMART goals. You can determine if you have accomplished your objectives when you have a time period as a point of reference. You provide yourself a timeline to implement your tasks when you assign deadlines for all your milestones.
That way, you can detect when you are not meeting your deadlines and quickly get back on track.
5. Complete a Weekly Review
The best time to audit your accomplishment is the weekend and not the end of the year. Create time each week to evaluate your objectives and track your outcomes. Find out which stage you are in, and determine how you can tweak your schedules and routines to better achieve your aims.
How to Improve Productivity
Tracking productivity is important, but it’s all for naught if you’re unable to improve your productivity in the face of difficulties. Productivity can be improved by incorporating these simple things into your life.
Do this first thing when you wake up. According to research, exercise, especially team exercise, can enhance your mood for up to 12 hours after a workout.((ThriveGlobal: This Study of 1.2 Million People Reveals the 1 Exercise That Most Improves Overall Mental Health))
Therefore, if you care to have a productive day, invest your first 20 minutes in physical exercises.
Nothing energizes you like physical exercises, and productivity can be improved by a boost in your energy level.
2. Prioritize the Most Critical Tasks
Everyone has specific activities that count the most. An important step is to identify three things that add value to your life’s purpose.
What three things produce the most income?
What three things generate the highest impact?
Delete the “additional stuff” as much as you can. This action will enable you to enjoy the importance of focusing on your most important activities.
3. Allocate Less Time for Major Projects
Time is like a new mansion. You fill a new house with furniture and fittings, just as you load each block of your time with activities.
So here’s a practical approach you can apply.
Reduce the amount of time you assign for a critical task.
That will help you to focus and stay productive. It will also optimize your energy level and help you get things done faster.
4. Chunk Your House Chores
Now that you are working from home, housekeeping activities can become your greatest distractions.
You don’t have to worry about that.
Instead of performing those tasks at any time of the day, sort them out in an organized block. Then, schedule the blocks and take them out when you are tired or need a mental break.
5. Learn to Say No
That does not mean you are not polite. It’s important to protect your time by saying no as often as you say yes.
Time is a great asset; you cannot waste it trying to please everyone.
6. Schedule Free Time
Don’t let your free time just happen. It should not also be a product of “if you have a chance.”
Set out fun things to do during those free periods. It could be watching a new movie or playing an exciting game. Let it be something that you love so you can anticipate it.
Productivity can be improved by an increased level of happiness, which we can improve during those crucial moments of free time.
7. Take a Productivity Nap
A quick nap has the ability to boost your creativity, retention, and focus.((Sleep Medicine: Exploring the nap paradox: are mid-day sleep bouts a friend or foe?))
Midday siestas can supercharge your productivity, so don’t overwork yourself; take a nap!
8. Use Your Mind to Think, Not to Recollect
Never clutter your mind with mental lists of things you need to remember.
Instead, write those things down and focus your mind on how to do them better. Avoid wasting your mental energy on remembering important ideas, and let papers take care of that.
9. Turn off Notifications
Turn off email dings, phone buzzes, and pop-ups. Every notification distracts you from the most important task, so eliminating them is an important step if you want to focus your energy.
Go notification-free, and once or twice each out, check for a few minutes if you’ve missed an urgent call or a message.
Most of the time, you will discover you haven’t missed anything and that the time you gained was better spent being productive.
10. Create Room for Reflection
Block about 20 to 30 minutes of your working time for reflection.
Close the door and reflect. You can also take a walk during this period. Exercising this way can aid your thinking as it encourages focused energy and relaxation.((Complementary & Alternative Medicine: The Effect of Reflective Garden Walking on Improving Quality of Life, Hopefulness and Personal Growth))
Bonus Point: Use the 2-Minute Rule
In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen recommends:
“When an activity requires less than two minutes, do not schedule it, do not set it aside for a later time, do not set a reminder — just do them instantly.”
Productivity can be improved by the ten actionable steps mentioned above. Don’t forget to do the most important things first, allocate limited time for them, and focus like a laser to achieve your milestones.
Don’t forget the two-minute rule! If you can get it done quickly, get it done now.