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The Only 2 Tricks You Need for Maximum Productivity

The Only 2 Tricks You Need for Maximum Productivity

    For the past 10 years I’ve been a student of productivity. In high school I managed to make the honor roll while running a small business. In college I became a master of acing tests without actually learning the material (the trick is to figure out what the professor will ask and then memorize the necessary information). When I started my second business in the heart of the recession I knew that I had to be a productivity ninja if I wanted a fighting chance.

    I tried everything. I experimented with virtually every legal stimulant, used computer programs to prevent distractions, tried to check my email only once a day, followed GTD to a T… the list goes on.

    Through it all, I learned that there are only two tricks you need to achieve maximum productivity.

    But first it’s important to understand that if you’re not feeling great you’re not going to be able to hit maximum productivity. Take good care of yourself. It’s the foundation for everything.

    With that in mind, here are the only two tricks you’ll ever need to reach maximum productivity:

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    Plot your day

    Most of us go to work and start working. Our time is spent either reacting to work as it comes in (emails, calls, assignments from the boss, etc) or working on things that are due soon.

    Working this way is very haphazard. It forces your focus to flicker, and it doesn’t guarantee that you’re dedicating time to the really important things, especially the important stuff that isn’t due soon.

    Instead of diving right in, the first thing I do when I get to my desk is I open up a word document, look at my to-dos and emails, and then figure out how to fit everything in.  I literally write out my schedule for the day. My schedule for today looks like this:

    10:00 – 10:10: Plotting the day

    10:10 – 11:10: Blogging (edit and post Necessary Suffering, write LifeHack article on productivity)

    11:10 – 12:10: Work on new white paper

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    12:10 – 12:30: Email

    12:30 – 1:00: Grocery (spinach, garbanzos, canned tomato, onion)

    1:00 – 1:45: Lunch with Will from Ingenuity Prep

    1:45 – 2:00 Prep for call about guest lecture at Georgetown

    2:00 – 3:45 Call with Jay about guest lecture

    3:45 – 4:00 Prep for call about upcoming speech at BSU

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    3:00 – 4:00 Call with team at BSU

    4:00 – 5:00 CRM

    5:00 – 6:00 Email

    Writing a schedule for the day keeps you focused and productive, and it ensures that all the important things are getting your attention. Spend ten minutes in the morning plotting your day and then stick to it.

    Carve out time each week to reflect and calibrate.

    If you really want to be productive throughout the day, one of the most important things to understand is how your daily work fits into the bigger picture of your work and life.

    Most of us are so busy that we don’t bother reflecting. That’s a mistake. Nothing is more important than reflecting on your work and your life – how else would you know that you’re on the right track?

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    Find a few hours each week to reflect. I use Fridays from 3-5. No real work gets done at this time anyways.

    The questions I ask myself:

    • What went well this week? How can I carry that into next week?
    • What went poorly this week? How can I prevent that next week?
    • Did this week fit into my bigger vision? If not, how can I change that next week?
    • What are the 3-5 most critical things for me to be working on next week?

    All that is left for you to do is make sure you are improving a little bit each week and that your work ties into your bigger vision. An easy way to do this is to schedule time each day for the tasks that you have predetermined to be the most important.

    We all want to achieve maximum productivity and efficiency. Doing so requires blending our day-to-day with the big picture and using our time thoughtfully. Starting your day by plotting how you’ll use your time, and spending an hour or two each week calibrating and reflecting, will enable you to hit maximum productivity.

    (Photo credit: Stitched panoramas via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

    13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

    Achieving work-life balance can be really tough. More and more people are reporting that managing their personal and professional lives has become more difficult.

    Longer working hours, more pressure to get things done quickly, more pressure to succeed and less personal time. Added together this combination of things creates more stress and plenty of daily struggles.

    But working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most.

    “I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles” — Zig Ziglar

    The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control. Here are 13 work life balance tips you can implement right now to start living a more stress free and joyful life:

    1. Take More Rejuvenation Days

    When was the last time you took some time out from work to completely rejuvenate?

    One of the best ways to create an environment for future high productivity and creativity is to take yourself outside of the day to day and remove yourself completely from work-related activities.

    By taking time out for yourself, you will gain clarity on what’s most important, both now and in the future, and you will come back refreshed, energized and motivated. By taking more rejuvenation days, you are investing in yourself which naturally means you are creating more balance.

    If you can take this day to yourself every month or two you will start seeing immediate results on all levels of your business and life.

    Now get your calendar out and mark down your rejuvenation days!

    2. Let Go of Fear

    Many people, be they entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders or managers worry that if they’re not working, or seen to be working every day, they may miss out on something important. The business may fail or they may not get that promotion or something. There’s always something. There is a sense that something bad could happen if not enough time was invested or “I could always be working on something else”.

    But, what if you believed you were good enough, you were achieving and doing something meaningful, and that you mattered?

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    Once you have that belief and confidence, you can let go of the fear that there is ‘always more’. You will feel more joyful, productive, abundant and know that what you accomplished was good enough.

    This guide will help you get over your most irrational fears: How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

    3. Prioritize Your Day

    If you took a step back and looked at what’s on your to-do list, how many things are critical? How many things MUST be done that day?

    It all starts with a clear understanding of what your bigger and better future looks like. Are you planning a year ahead? Three years? Ten years? What are you working to achieve?

    Once you understand that, you can work back and create plans and goals that help you achieve your bigger objectives.

    You may build 90 day outcome goals, the things you really want to achieve in the next quarter and then lay out the process for getting there. From this plan you will understand your priorities and where your focused time should be.

    Don’t have 10 things on your list to complete that day. Focus on achieving just 3 or 5 important things every day. Achieve them and your motivation will go through the roof. Have too many and don’t complete them and your energy levels will drop.

    Lifehack’s CEO Leon has his unique way on how to prioritize: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    4. Express Gratitude for What You Have

    Sometimes we are so busy working through and dealing with the day to day and having our mind in the future that we forget about the here and now, this present moment. I believe it’s essential to include proactive gratitude as part of everyday life, to actually look at everything in our lives and appreciate what we have.

    Many of us think of gratitude as reacting. Something happens or someone does something and you feel grateful. You say thank you, maybe send an email.

    But a far more proactive strategy for creating and living an abundant life is to actively find things you appreciate. This affects your own personal state of mind but also impacts others. You could send a handwritten card to the people you love or someone that means a lot to you.

    Try giving thanks for three things at the end of every day and see how this shifts your mood and mind-set.

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    5. Learn to Say No

    It’s important to decide what you want to do, who you want to build relationships with and where you want to spend your time. We have so many requests made of us and so many opportunities to do different things that we end up saying yes to things that we really don’t want to do but feel we should do.

    Have the self-respect, confidence and courage to live life on your own terms and say yes only to the things that really matter. For everything else, start saying no.

    When you are clear on who matters most and what matters most, you gain clarity on what and who is essential and who isn’t.

    Your time is scarce. When you start saying no to most things, you will become more focused and be completely present in everything you’ve said yes to.

    Leo Babauta has this guide on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    6. Have More Fun

    If you looked back at the last week, how much time did you spend just having fun? If it wasn’t much, then it’s time to change things up.

    Think about what gets you excited, think about the people you love spending time with. Jump into new things and new relationships. Take some risks, try something new, learn a new skill and start laying the groundwork for a big project you’ve always been putting off.

    If you need to get out of your comfort zone to have more fun, just do it. However, you want to change your life, having more fun keeps you energized and motivated.

    7. Start to Journal

    One of the biggest things that has helped me in my own personal growth and goal achievement is using my journal every day.

    This is the place to house my dreams. It is home to my creative thoughts and my thinking tools. It’s a place to escape to. It’s also a place to write down thoughts and notes on where I am right now — my thinking, my mind-set and my belief system.

    The habit of writing in my journal felt like a small step but has been transformative. It has become a routine that has affected other parts of my life.

    So, start keeping a journal. Commit to writing every day, even if it’s just for five minutes and see where your imagination takes you.

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    Here’re some tips to kickstart journaling: Writing Journal for a Better and More Productive Self (The How-To Guide)

    8. Create One Hour a Day to Think and Relax

    It’s amazing what we actually have time for, especially when we decide to really make time. I hear the phrase “I don’t have time” constantly. How about you change that mind-set and start dedicating one hour a day to yourself?

    One hour to work on yourself. One hour for reading. One hour to learn a new skill.

    The truth is we can all find time if it’s important to us. This one hour a day could help us become more creative and increase your energy and focus. Plus, you’ll increase your capabilities.

    9. Do One Thing You Love to Do Every Day

    As we get sucked into the whirlwind of the everyday, it’s all we can do just to get by. We often forget to do or enjoy the things that actually bring us the biggest amount of joy.

    One of the best ways to bring more balance back into your life is to recommit to do the things that give you the most pleasure. If you don’t have anything, I suggest you find something you’re passionate about. This could be reading, walking, meditating, learning an instrument or a language, or becoming a better cook or gardener.

    It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you get joy from the experience. Try carving out time every day to do this one thing. Do it for 30 days and it will become a habit. Plus, it will help you reconnect with what you really care about.

    10. Create More Family Time

    This is an area that means a lot to me and was one of the reasons I set up my coaching business in the first place.

    I have two young children and I wanted to see more of them and to spend more time with my family. I get to take them to school sometimes and am often home for ‘family dinner’ and bedtime stories. Having the freedom to do this is essential in how I run my business and how I help other entrepreneurs run their business.

    If you can create a bit of space to spend more time with the people that matter you will see a massive difference. Here’s a guide on How to Maximize Family Time with plenty of ways you can try immediately.

    11. Set Clear Goals

    Successful people are always guided by a vision of their future. To keep them on course and motivated setting clear goals, both long-term and short-term, allows them to achieve their biggest dreams.

    Setting specific and measurable goals gives you the best chance to transform how you work and live. They help you move forward and build momentum every single day. As Dan Sullivan says,

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    “Your future is your property. If you don’t take ownership of it, others will be happy to do it for you.”

    Learn how to set clear goals with this step-by-step guide: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

    12. Focus on Results, Not Time Spent

    Rather than thinking about working harder, focus your time and energy on achieving bigger results. By simplifying your areas of focus, you free up more time to live a more joyful and balanced life.

    It’s really easy to fall into the trap of doing countless activities that drain your energy and take you away from building momentum in moving your business forward. You are being pulled in multiple directions and don’t have enough time and often take on too many projects. This can often leave you drained, worried and uncommunicative at the end of the day.

    Remember, getting more things done means nothing when nothing great is done.

    By focusing on a smaller number of projects and delivering maximum impact, you have a bigger sense of achievement, confidence and motivation. Plus, you may have more time to stop work early and spend time with the people that matter.

    13. Commit to a Bigger Future

    You have the power and control to decide what bigger and better future you want for yourself right now, in this present moment. How far into the future you want to ‘vision’ is up to you. It could be 3 years, 5 years, 10 years or 25 years. This future is yours to create but, it only comes from investing time now to think about where you are and where you want to go.

    Try this: Look into your ‘future you’ and be clear where you want to go, who you want to be and how you want to live your life. Then, bring yourself back to the present day and create an action plan on how you’re going to create and ‘walk to’ this bigger future.

    You will feel a higher sense of energy, engagement, motivation, creativity and productivity because you have a clear vision and clarity on exactly where you want to go and the steps you need to take to get there.

    This article can help you do that: The Best Way to Create a Vision For the Life You Want

    The Bottom Line

    Some of these strategies and tips will allow you to think differently and work differently immediately, whilst others will take a little longer to implement but will be key to your long-term success.

    Creating a balance between how you think, how you work and how you spend your time is essential to your long-term health and mental wellbeing. The desire to create that change only comes from within. Hopefully these strategies and tips will set you on the right path!

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    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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