Let’s get real for a second. How many times a day have you seen articles in your news feed surrounding the topic of being productive? And how often do you hear friends and colleagues telling you the latest and greatest techniques to be at the top of your productivity game?
Exactly. It’s overwhelming! And very often, you’re so focused on the techniques, apps, and tools you can use to be productive that your productivity actually decreases with all the added rigmarole.
Being a young professional at the top of my game has lead me down the productivity rabbit hole on more than one occasion and the results were lackluster. Alas, fear not, there is hope. The tried and tested approach outlined below will lead you to productivity bliss. There are no tricks or apps, just four simple steps to success.
Get Productive! Step 1: Set One Or Two Actionable And Realistic Goals
Not three, not seven – just one or two. Why? Because that’s all a person can focus on at one time if they plan on being successful. Don’t be an overachiever. Just achieve.
Realistic and Actionable. You know what I mean. Don’t set a goal to be out on a NASA space mission by the year 2025. Choose a short term goal with small incremental milestones that lead to a larger, long term goal. For example, if you plan on writing a book in a year set a goal to complete an outline for that book within the next two months.
Get Productive! Step 2: Make A Plan
Sounds easy right? Not if you’re doing it correctly. This is where you need to be the most honest with yourself. Going back to the example we used in Step 1, imagine you have eight weeks to write an outline for your new book. You’ll need to think about the specifics of the plan.
How many hours a day should you devote to your goal? What small checkpoints can you add to your eight-week calendar to make sure you’re on track to meet that goal? Decide what you need, map it out, and make it happen! Build those tasks into your daily life.
Be brutally honest with yourself when you determine how much time you are willing (or able) to devote to your goal. Do you have kids? Does your day job interfere with your free time? Do you like to go out every night? Understanding your daily habits and routines will help you figure out how much time can realistically be designated to working on your goal. You may have to give up something else in order to make the time. If this goal is important to you that sacrifice will be well worth the effort.
Get Productive! Step 3: Get An Accountability Partner
There is a great deal to be said about having a buddy to support you in achieving your goals. It’s so easy to say, “I’ll get to it tomorrow,” and then a week later realize you’ve fallen behind the schedule you mapped out in Step 2 simply because “life” got in the way. And it does, we’ve all been there. But having someone check in with you, who knows you’re working towards something, and holds you accountable can mean all the difference between success and failure. Get a buddy and tell them your plan (or hell, give them a copy) to be productive over the next eight weeks, or however long the goal is you’ve set for yourself. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes!
Get Productive! Step 4: Set A Reward
Remember when you were young and your teacher put that gold star on your homework when you did a great job? It felt great to have your hard work recognized. The teacher may be gone, but you aren’t. Put a reward system in place for yourself after a long stretch of productivity. You deserve it! Tell yourself, “if over the next eight weeks I focus on this goal, follow my plan to maintain productivity, and meet my goal, I’ll reward myself with x, y, or z.” It doesn’t have to be something huge or expensive. Just a reminder that you worked hard, achieved your goal, and deserve some praise. After you’ve rewarded yourself, it’s time to set another goal and return to Step 1.
This method may seem simple and fairly straightforward, but it takes determination and follow through to be truly productive. It can be applied to your job, your personal life, and goals you’d like to achieve. You simply have to take the time to establish your goals, map out a plan, create the steps to get there and follow through. You can make your dreams a reality, those goals are well within your reach, you can have the life you’ve always wanted…you just need to take the first step. Good luck!