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The First 6 Steps You Can Take To Become Productive Instantly

The First 6 Steps You Can Take To Become Productive Instantly

Productivity is very important. Productivity means being able to achieve more than usual within the same amount of time. You’re able to squeeze the most out of life. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t very productive. The good news is it only takes a few practical steps to enhance our productivity.

Keep in mind that, while productivity improves gradually, there are ways to kick start it instantly. Here are 6 steps to follow right now:

1. Look at the Big Picture

When you’re losing productivity, the first thing to do is step back and think about what you’d like to achieve in the long run, and what matters to you the most. Next, look at the potential activities you can involve yourself in, in relation to that.

You’ll immediately get more clarity, you’ll feel more motivated to take action, and thus your productivity will instantly increase. Even if the tasks are hard, looking at the big picture will embolden you to do them .

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2. Anchor Yourself in the Present

One of the biggest productivity killers is distractions. Whether it’s a TV running in the background that routinely grabbing your awareness, or a series of thoughts that run in your head and are unrelated to the tasks at hand, distractions put much of your attention in the wrong place, and hurt your productivity immensely.

Overcome distractions and anchor yourself in the present. Sometimes this means eliminating external distractions, like turning off your TV. Other times it means being in the moment. Take a deep breath, clear your mind of unwanted thoughts, and become present. This simple exercise, done repeatedly, works wonders for your productivity.

3. Delay Gratification

Frequently we are not productive because the task is not as fun as some other activity. It’s tempting to abandon the less enjoyable task for the less valuable one.

This is where delaying gratification comes in. Don’t allow yourself to do that thing you enjoy most until you have taken care of that task with a lot of value. Put business before pleasure.

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Once your mind realizes that the only way to get to that fun activity is by doing some other activity first, you’ll become highly motivated to get this other activity done, which boosts in your productivity. This is how you make gratification work for you, not against you.

4. Eat a Healthy Meal

Even though it seems like a minor factor, what you eat influences your productivity. A lot of us eat in a hurry, and we eat really appalling meals, with lots of sugar, lots of unhealthy carbs, and low nutritional value.

A meal like that will make you feel full, but it will also make your energy level plummet. After eating you’ll feel exhausted and lethargic, so you can bet that your productivity won’t be too high, either.

On the other hand, eating a nutritious meal, containing fruits, vegetables, and lean meats will boost your energy and make you feel good, which will help your productivity. So pay attention to what you eat, and eat food that gives you energy instead of taking away from it.

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5. Chunk Everything Down

Sometimes we deal with tasks that are really big and will take months to accomplish. When we look at big tasks, their size can feel overwhelming, and this can de-motivate us. Handle this issue by breaking every big task into much smaller tasks, and focus primarily on the small tasks.

For example, let’s say that your big task is writing an entire book. You can break that down into writing a number of small chapters, and then when you work, instead of thinking about the whole book, concentrate on the chapter you have to write. Writing a small chapter is a much more manageable task than writing a whole book, and before you know it,  you’ll have written the whole book.

6. Take Regular Breaks

It may seem counterintuitive, but regular breaks actually increase your productivity, as long as they’re not too frequent or too long. Breaks give your mind and body a chance to rest and recover, so that when you get back to work, you’ll be more efficient and productive.

Conversely, people who almost never take breaks when they work in an attempt to become productive, only succeed in exhausting themselves. They may work more, but at a much lower efficiency, which is bad for them and bad for the quality of the work they do.

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The best thing about these 6 steps is that you can start applying them immediately. As soon as you begin, you’ll see your productivity improve. You’ll get more done, and the quality of your work will improve.

Small productivity boosts every day add up to big productivity shifts in the long-term. And big long-term shifts drastically alter your life for the better. Isn’t that what most of us seek?

Featured photo credit: Blumpy via flickr.com

More by this author

Eduard Ezeanu

Eduard is a confidence and communication coach with 7+ years of experience.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

There’s no denying that goals are necessary. After all, they give life meaning and purpose. However, goals don’t simply achieve themselves—you need to write an action plan to help you reach your goals.

With an action plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how to get where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll find the motivation to keep driving forward. Without creating a plan, things have a way of not working out as you waver and get distracted.

With that in mind, here’s how you can set goals and action plans that will help you achieve any personal goal you’ve set.

1. Determine Your “Why”

Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme here.

The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.

Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:

“Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”

That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.

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I’ll share with you a recent example of this in my life. Earlier this year, I decided to make my health a bigger priority, specifically losing weight. I set this goal because it gave me more energy at work, improved my sleep, and helped me be a better father—I really didn’t care for all that wheezing every time I played with my kids.

Those factors all gave me a long-term purpose, not a superficial short-term goal like wanting to look good for an event.

Before you start creating an action plan, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).

2. Write Down Your Goal

If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your goals out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down[1].

This is especially true for business owners. If they don’t schedule their time, it’ll be scheduled for them.[2]

When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.

3. Set a SMART Goal

A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management[3]. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.

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Use SMART goals to create a goal action plan.

     

    By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin to brainstorm the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.

    • Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
    • Measurable: To make sure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress. Identify how you’ll collect the data.
    • Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how you can attain them.
    • Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective — and whether it’s worth pursuing.
    • Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.

    Learn more about setting a SMRT goal here: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

    4. Take One Step at a Time

    Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.

    Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these are mini goals that help you get where you need to go.

    For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.

    This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.

    5. Order Your Tasks by Priority

    With your action steps figured out, you’ll next want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.

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    For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.

    The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating, or replacing soda with sparkling water.

    Learn these tips to prioritize better: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    6. Schedule Your Tasks

    Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.

    What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created, as well as a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.

    For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame.

    Beware the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.

    While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set deadlines or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).

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    7. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits

    Without healthy habits, it’s going to be even more challenging to reach your goal. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch every day, you’re undoing all your hard work.

    Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.

    You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable.

    8. Check off Items as You Go

    You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety.

    There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine[4]. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.

    If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go the gym consistently.

    9. Review and Reset as Necessary

    Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.

    If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.

    The Bottom Line

    When you want to learn how to set goals and action plans—whether you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or make more money—you need to create a realistic plan to get you there. It will guide you in establishing realistic steps and time frames to achieve your goal. Best of all, it will keep you on track when you stumble, and we all do.

    More on Goal Action Plans

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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