My 7 favourite productivity strategies for staying focused and getting it done
Having a strategy helps you make worthwhile things happen.
As January comes to a close, think about what you wanted to achieve, what you did achieve, how you made it happen, or didn't happen. Did you meet your goals? Fulfil your standards? Could have done more? Better? Differently? Now is a good time to assess your current strategies and evaluate what is and isn't working for you.
Here are 7 of my favourite productivity strategies for staying focused and getting good things done:
Strategy 1: Get organised
Did you know most people waste about an hour a day looking for stuff? That's a significant amount of time wasted when you add it up. Sure, it's normal to accumulate stuff but when that stuff becomes clutter it can lead to unproductively, a lack of creativity and that 'boxed in' feeling. Take control of your workspace - if you don't use it, you don't need it. Pack it away, give it away, toss it.
Give it a go:
- Simplify and declutter your workspace - if it sounds overwhelming, break it down one section at a time.
- Introduce a filing and retrieval system that works for you - find something that sticks.
- Keep all the things you use regularly, including files, close by.
- Use one calendar or system to schedule ALL your appointments.
- Keep a notepad and pen close by - for when inspiration strikes.
- Turn your to-do's into appointments.
- Organise your inbox and clear emails out daily - aim for a zero inbox by evening.
- Give your space the once over at the end of the week - quick clean ups will help you stay in control.
Strategy 2: First things first
Review your diary first thing in the morning and decide on your three most important priorities of the day and focus on them first. Don't allow yourself to get sidelined by low priority or irrelevant tasks - these can steal your time and motivation later in the day.
- Identify your top 3 priorities for the day and place them in order of importance.
- Work on each, one at a time, in that order.
- Once complete you can move to other activities. (Everything else you do is a bonus!)
Strategy 3: Evening reality check
At the end of each day, evaluate where and how you spent your time by putting the day through a reality check filter. It's a quick way to assess if you are moving closer to your goals, or further away from them. And a good prompt to make adjustments and better decisions tomorrow.
At the end of day ask yourself:
- What did I do to support my goals today?
- What activities moved me closer to my goals?
- Where did I waste time?
- What, if anything, do I need to change tomorrow?
Strategy 4: Focus on your genius
To focus on your genius means to maximise your strengths, talents and the uniqueness you offer. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you can do everything because you think you can't afford to outsource. Don't. Learn to budget better and work leaner if need be. Always look to deliver a professional and polished result.
- Identify your genius zone - make a list of all your strengths, natural talents and abilities.
- Review your goals and write down who will be responsible for executing each task.
- Identify what you and only you can do.
- Drop, delegate or outsource the rest - identify who needs to help and how to make it happen.
Strategy 5: Timebox tasks
Timeboxing can help you create solid working routines, eliminate time and energy wasting activities, optimise results and achieve really big goals by breaking them into much smaller pieces. It works by boxing up your activities and allocating them to a time slot. Speed dating applies this strategy well i.e. 7 minute speed date. I like to timebox emails, writing, and TV - it stops me from straying into procrastination territory.
Give it a go:
- Identify your goals for the month.
- Determine what tasks are required to achieve those goals.
- Define the amount of time required to complete each task.
Strategy 6: Create a morning routine
There is one particular habit many successful people share - a morning routine. They are often energising rituals that help them reflect on their goals, what's important in life and set the focus and motivation for the day. And are good for the mind, body and soul. A morning routine might include some form of meditation, visualization, exercise, a healthy breakfast, etc.
Need some inspiration?
- Steve Jobs (late Apple CEO) used his mornings to reflect and reassess, saying “For the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
- Anthony Robbins (motivational speaker and self-help guru) eats fish and salad for breakfast, follows a specific breathing routine, practices gratitude and focuses on three things he is going to make happen that day - his 3 to thrive.
- Anna Wintour (former Vogue editor-in-chief) gets her heart racing with an hour of tennis each morning, starting at 5.45am before heading off to have her famous bob styled and is in the office by 9am.
- Brian Tracy (Speaker, Author, Coach) is a fan of using any time spent in the car for learning. “Audio learning has been described as the most important advance in education since the invention of the printing press.”
Strategy 7: Wellness breaks
Wellness breaks help you slow down, relax and reconnect so you can rev back up again feeling refreshed and energised.
Create your own:
- Make a list of everything you could do - e.g. stretching, deep breathing, meditation, a gentle walk, etc.
- Vary your breaks from 60 seconds to ten minute activities - no excuses that you don't have time.
- Make them a part of your daily routine - schedule them into your diary.
What productivity strategies will you commit to trying in the next 24 hours?
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