Some day is not a day of the week. Productivity: Get it all out

Being productive and organised is something we all aspire to be. I’ve never met anyone who’s ever said “do you know what, I’d rather be less organised”. But it’s so easy to procrastinate and get nothing done or be busy without actually be productive. Hitting that sweet spot of productivity is often difficult. Some enemies of productivity are:

  • Lack of purpose
  • Lack of motivation
  • Unsuitable work environment
  • Stress
  • Burnout
  • Information overload

But the good news is that there are a few things you can do, some that you can implement daily, that don’t take much time at all which will ensure you are working on the right things, at the right time, to increase your productivity, particularly in your business.

We hold so much information in our heads that it\s often hard to make sense of it, so the first step is to get it all out of your head. This is done in 3 stages; big picture, medium term and immediate future.

Take some time and think about your long term goals. Ask yourself the big questions like what does life look like in 5 years? When do I want to retire? When am I going to take that dream holiday?

Once you’ve done this big picture planning, it’s time to zoom in a little bit. Think about the next 12 months; what do you want to achieve in business and life? You may want to go a step further and work out what actions you’ll need to take each month in order to achieve that goal.

All this goal setting, thinking and planning will help you with the granular detail of what you need to do today to be productive. This step is where we brain dump everything that’s swirling that’s swirling around our head and get it out. We’ve all heard of the brain dump, but how many of us actually do it? If you don’t do it regularly (or have never done it) then your first brain dump could take you quite a while, but it is a worthwhile exercise. Find some time, get a brew and sit down with a blank sheet of paper in front of you, or your notes app (whatever works for you) and then literally write everything down that’s in your brain; all your to-dos, appointments, admin tasks, hopes, dreams, everything! Don’t worry about organising your list, just write it down as you think it.

It might look like a long list. It might feel overwhelming, but now it’s out of your head, we can start organising. The first thing I like to do is get two different colour highlighters and colour each item either personal or business. This separation helps with the next bit.

Now you’ve got your beautifully coloured list with all the items on it, start with either business or personal and go through each item. If it’s an appointment, make sure it’s in your diary with all the information you need. If it’s something that needs actioning, then add it to your to-do list. If it’s a hope, dream or goal that you missed from your 5 year plan, or 1 year plan then make sure you add it in.

The first time you do this exercise it may take some time, you’re likely to have loads of stuff in your head, but if you do it regularly (either weekly, but preferably daily) it shouldn’t really take you more than 10 minutes. 10 minutes a day to feel more organised is worth carving the time out for but having these lovely lists is no good unless you are going to do something with them, and this is where productivity comes in.

Most people keep a running to do list and yours is likely to have grown much longer after you’ve added the stuff from your brain dump on it but just working your way through from top to bottom isn’t going to be the most productive use of your time. In business there are definitely going to be some ‘high value’ tasks. These might be tasks that absolutely need to get done or that actually bring money to your life. There might also be tasks that move you towards your goal. Then there will be other books that it would just be nice to get done if there is time. Organise your list into three:

  • high value tasks
  • Goal tasks 
  • Nice to-do’s

By working through these priorities now you will be doing the right work, rather than just keeping busy, which is key to motivation and productivity.

This is the starting part of your journey to productivity. Take time to do this step as it will help guide and inform you as you start your journey to being more productive and getting stuff done!

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