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Last Updated on August 6, 2019

Top 10 Productivity Tips to Achieve More and Create Peace of Mind

Top 10 Productivity Tips to Achieve More and Create Peace of Mind

Do you know anybody who’s not busy?

Most of us wake up each morning facing crammed calendars and mile-long to-do lists. As a lawyer/wife/mom/writer, I know I certainly do.

Out of nerdy fascination and sheer survival instinct, I’ve made a lifelong study of productivity and time management. Here are the top 10 productivity tips that help me get done the things that I must or want to do without losing my mind:

1. Write It Down

Every task, every commitment should be written down. This frees your mind from the energy- and attention-sucking job of trying to remember.

In his seminal book on productivity, Getting Things Done, David Allen points out how uncompleted commitments take up psychic energy, each one making you just the tiniest bit more tired, more distracted, and therefore less productive.

He emphasizes that the first step to managing your life and time is getting every commitment, large and small, out of your head and into a trusted system.

I use OmniFocus to capture these commitments, but you can start with a simple pen and paper.

2. Get a Head Start

The best way to hit the ground running is to start the night before.

Before leaving your workspace, or before going to bed, take 10 minutes to look over the next day’s commitments.

What appointments can’t be missed? What do you need to have with you for those appointments? (Make sure you’ve gathered those materials and have them ready to go.) What three to five tasks must get done?

Decide what you’ll do first. Look at that to-do list and decide whether any tasks on it can be delegated to someone else (see number 9 below) or, even better, crossed off the list altogether (see number 10 below).

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The busier your day, the more important it is to do this quick survey the day or evening before. It means you waste no time in the morning deciding where to start, or gathering materials (and maybe discovering a crucial item isn’t available when you need it).

3. Do Your Most Dreaded Task First

Everyone of us has one or more tasks on our to-do list that we dread doing. Maybe it’s that unpleasant phone call you don’t want to make, or that blog post you’ve been putting off writing because you don’t know how to start, or that project that just overwhelms you because it’s so massive.

Whatever it is, it hangs over your head, distracting you with guilt because it keeps getting pushed to the next day and the next. It’s time to end that cycle.

Do it first thing. Writer Michael Hyatt talks about slaying your dragons before breakfast—there’s nothing more motivating for the rest of your day than crossing that monster off your list first thing in the morning.[1]

But many people instead of doing the tough tasks first, they do the easy ones. If you really want to be productive, there’re some tasks you shouldn’t do first in the morning: To Be More Productive, Never Do This To Start Your Morning

So make that call. Pull out a piece of paper and brainstorm ideas for that blog post.

Do something about that overwhelming task—maybe you can’t finish it in one day, but you can at least get started. Whatever it is, just do it.

Then, let the satisfaction of crossing it off your list carry you into the rest of your busy day.

4. Turn off Distractions

One of the major productivity killers is the distraction of constant interruptions: emails, phone calls, people appearing at your door…

The technology that can (and should) make our lives easier and better also can make it virtually impossible to maintain the kind of focused attention that’s necessary to work efficiently and effectively.

But here’s the thing: you can control that technology.

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When you’ve got an important task that requires attention and focus, create the space to give it your best.

Whether it’s a meeting with a client or colleague, or an important letter that needs to get written, or a piece of art you want to create, schedule a block of time to focus on that commitment, and then turn off all distractions. Shut down your phone (or at least turn off the ringer). Silence your email alerts. Disconnect the internet (or at least Facebook and Twitter). Close your office door.

Just for that hour (or thirty minutes, or half day), turn off all outside communications and give yourself the necessary luxury of undisturbed time to really focus on the matter at hand. Find out here more about How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done.

5. Take Breaks

There’s a limit to how long anybody can devote deep focus to a task.

No matter how busy you are, after a certain amount of time, the law of diminishing returns kicks in, and fatigue—physical and/or mental—starts to impair your effectiveness.

Schedule breaks periodically even during the busiest days. Take ten minutes to stand up, stretch, get a drink of water, walk around the block.

You’ll return to your work refreshed, both mentally and physically, and ready to be even more productive.

If you’re not convinced yet, read this article about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

6. Batch Process

If the demands of your day include routine tasks, try to group similar tasks and schedule certain times during the day to knock them out.

Answering emails? Returning phone calls? Entering expenses into a spreadsheet? Instead of interrupting your other tasks to do these things piecemeal, batch them.

Set two or three or five times a day to check and respond to emails. Return phone calls at 11:45 am and 4:45 pm (or, if you want to avoid getting sucked into long phone conversations, return them at 12:15 pm while folks are at lunch, and 5:15 pm after they’ve left for the day, and just leave a message!)

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By batching similar tasks, you save the time lost to ramping up multiple times a day and reap the benefits of momentum.

7. Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Do I need to explain this? There are countless studies confirming the importance of breakfast for maintaining our health.

Healthy people are more productive. No matter how busy you are, eat a decent breakfast. It’ll fuel you for a terrific start to your day.

For more breakfast ideas, check out this: 31 Healthy Breakfast Recipes That Will Super Boost Your Energy

8. Get Some Exercise

Not to be too repetitive, but healthy people are more productive.

Exercise makes you healthier, so be sure to get some exercise every day.

You don’t need to spend hours at the gym to get the benefit of this; take a walk around the block, or do some isometrics at your desk.

Try these 29 Exercises You Can Do At (Or Near) Your Desk or 15 Simple And Quick Office Stretches To Boost Work Efficiency.

Just do something to get your heart pumping and your blood racing. It will enhance your general well being as well as your ability to think more clearly.

9. Delegate

I’ll confess: I stink at this. I hate to ask for help, and often it seems more trouble to explain a task to someone else than to just do it myself. But not everything that needs to be done in your life must be done by you.

Evaluate that to-do list carefully. What tasks could someone else do, thereby freeing you up to focus on the things only you can do?

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Look around you: who is available to do some of those tasks? A secretary? A colleague? A family member? A paid helper?

An important key to productivity is doing only those things that only you can do, and giving somebody else the opportunity to contribute by doing those other tasks.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to delegate work effectively, take a look at his guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

10. Say No

How many commitments have you made that don’t really need to be kept at all?

Have you taken on tasks that don’t actually matter to you or anybody else?

Is your calendar cluttered with meetings that don’t accomplish anything for organizations that you no longer care about?

Has your day been hijacked by somebody else’s priorities?

If your calendar is jammed, if your to-do list is miles long, take ten minutes or so to look at each item with a careful eye. Can any of those appointments or tasks simply be crossed off to create some reasonable margin in your life?

When someone calls or appears at your door with a request for your participation in some activity, take a breath and consider whether it fits into your own priorities (which priorities, of course, might legitimately include keeping your boss or spouse happy).

If the answer is no, then just say no. Practice it ahead of time: “Thank you for inviting me, but no.” “Thank you for asking, but no.” “Thank you for thinking of me, but no.”

As a wise person has said, “no” is a complete sentence. No explanation is necessary. Just no.

You may want to learn from Leo Babauta The Gentle Art of Saying No so you can set better boundaries for yourself.

More Resources About Time Management

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

[1] Michael Hyatt: Slay Your Dragons Before Breakfast

More by this author

Laura McClellan

Passionate about encouraging women in their roles as wives, mothers, friends, and workers.

Top 10 Productivity Tips to Achieve More and Create Peace of Mind The Ability to Multitask Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be 15 Minutes to Workplace Sanity How to Write a Formal Letter

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

6 Ways To Make Progress (And Realize All Goals)

6 Ways To Make Progress (And Realize All Goals)

Are you at a critical stage in your life, and it seems you are not making headway as far as your life goals are concerned? Does it feel like you are complacent, and you are struggling to accomplish your set goals? You can make progress by establishing and diligently working towards those goals that align with your life mission.

A lot of dreams are not terminated because the dreamers gave up; they died due to a long period of inactivity. This is the more reason you need to develop a progress mindset while you pursue those relevant and meaningful goals.

A progress mindset will enable you to work on any disability or inadequacy that can truncate the realization of your goals. With such a mindset, you are constantly evaluating yourself, improving your skills, and seeking ways to learn and grow through life.

Why Is It Essential to Develop a Progress Mindset?

Your mindset encompasses your beliefs-how you perceive your talents, skills, knowledge, personality. Your belief system eventually influences your viewpoints about goals and success. A fixed mindset can hinder your progress, while a progressive mindset will enable you to achieve sound health, happiness, good relationships, and peace.

6 Ways to Make Progress and Realize Your Goals

Here are 6 practical ways that you can make progress and realize all your goals.

1. Figure Out Your WHYs—Reasons

Nothing is static! You are either making progress or retrogressing. However, no one desires to retrogress, and that’s why you are here. You need to establish why you want to move forward.

  • Career: Why do I want to be fulfilled in my career?
  • Marriage: Why do I want a happy home and lovely children?
  • Health: Why do I want to be physically and mentally sound?
  • Finance: Why do I want to be out of debt?
  • Academics: Why do I want to ace my grades?
  • Relationship: Why do I want to communicate better?
  • Personal: Why do I want to be a better person?

For every aspect of your life, establish the reasons for changing levels.

Someone once said,

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“When your why is strong and convincing, the how will emerge.”

Establishing your reasons will help you to be an active player in decisions that affect your life. You will also be able to establish if your motivation to progress is intrinsic or extrinsic.

2. Establish Your What—Tangible Goals

Once you have established your reasons, the next step is to establish your life goals. Develop your aims for short-term, mid-term, as well as long-term. This process will enable you to track your progress and implement changes that improve your progress.

Keep your goals SMART: Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. For instance, I want to improve my typing speed by 150 wpm within the next three months. I will spend two hours daily practicing on Mavis Beacon. I wrote in detail on how to set SMART goals that you will accomplish.

Write your goals on paper: Sticking your goals on your wall or notepad will offer you a visual cue that can reinforce your goals.

Update your goals as required: Review your goals at intervals to ensure you can still achieve them.

3. Create Your How—Game Plan

It is not enough to know what you want from life; you need to design a roadmap to get to your destination.

Here’s what you can do:

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Break your smart goals into habits: Begin by highlight the good habits you need to cultivate and the bad habits you need to eliminate. Here’s how to break bad habits that can truncate your progress.

Master one habit at a time: Once you figure out the good habits to have in your life, then ensure you practice them daily. Scientists revealed that you would need 18 to 254 days to develop new habits and that a new habit will only become permanent after 66 days of practicing it.[1]

Once you have gained mastery over a habit, add more routines that will enable you to make progress in the direction of your goals.

4. Imbibe Positivity

A positive outlook means you are always optimistic about yourself, interactions, and events. It also means your ability to expect favorable outcomes when working towards your life goals.

Positivity is a mental posture that sees accomplishments and opportunities instead of failures and defeat. It will keep you hopeful when you are facing daunting challenges.

A study on positive thinking conducted by researchers at the King’s College in London and published in the Journal of Behavior Research and Therapy revealed that visualizing positive images can reduce worry and anxiety.[2]

How do you maintain a positive outlook on life?

  • Look out for the best in every circumstance. This will enable you to be more progress-minded.
  • Use positive affirmations. For instance, when you wake up, say, “I will work hard to complete all my milestones today.”
  • Associate with positive people that will support your progress. You need positive energy to make consistently make progress in the direction of your goals.
  • Change your perspectives about failures and setbacks. See them as significant components of making progress.

5. Practice Reflection as You Progress

A lot of things will occur once you are determined to advance. You will learn new lessons and implement changes. You will form new habits and eliminate bad ones.

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It is reasonable to take time out and evaluate what worked and what did not. Ask yourself how you can improve and surmount new obstacles. You can log your answers in a diary or use a virtual journal to track your thoughts.

Scientists have proved the significance of reflective practice on your productivity. A group of students at the Harvard Business School found out that call center agents who reflected for 15 minutes on what they’ve learned outperformed their colleagues by 23% who attempted the test without revealing.[3]

Self-reflection will enable you to keep your goals in mind constantly.

How do you make this happen?

  • Set up a weekly appointment with yourself: It sounds funny, but it works. During this period, define your goals and reflect on them. It will also help you to verify if your goals are still achievable.
  • Ask reflective questions: Did I achieve all I planned? What salient lesson can I pick this week? What new things did I learn and what actions do I need to make progress.

6. Celebrate Your Achievements

It is highly crucial to acknowledge every milestone you complete as you make progress in life. Celebrating your achievements will build your confidence and provide you the motivation you require to continue.

One of the best ways to do this is by pampering yourself with rewards when you achieve a goal. These rewards could be things you enjoy, such as a special meal, a music collection, or a mini-vacation. These little rewards will continuously remind you of victory anytime you feel like giving up. Merely looking at your mini-vacation pictures will motivate you to keep working towards your next goals.

Bill Carmody wrote in a report by Inc that celebrating your achievements will enable you to build on existing momentum and will allow you to attract more successes.[4]

Bonus Tips

Here are other things that you can do to help you make progress toward your goals.

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Invest in Self-Improvement

Self-development enhances your self-worth and self-confidence. You can improve yourself by listening to podcasts or audiobooks on any subject of interest. You can also attend webinars, seminars, or workshops to enhance your skills and broaden your knowledge.

Keep Moving

Every success comes with obstacles. Not giving up on your goals despite setbacks will help you achieve anything you desire. For instance, if you write a book and don’t make a single sale, write another one.

Don’t allow anything to discourage you from making progress. In case you missed a deadline, train yourself to meet the next one. A positive attitude will enable you to stay on course and infuse you with confidence.

Final Words

Goals offer you a sense of mission. When accomplished, it gives you a sense of fulfillment. When you make progress relentlessly in the direction of your goals, you build up the confidence to overcome obstacles, and every setback becomes a stepping stone to achieve your next target.

Apply these six practical steps to make progress and achieve every goal you have set.

More Tips on How to Make Progress Toward Your Goals

Featured photo credit: Khiet Tam via unsplash.com

Reference

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