Ever feel like your time is out of control? The days seem to go by faster and faster. You are really busy but still not getting everything done.
There seems to be a constant line of new things to be tackled, ready to jump in as soon as you’ve finished something else.
It doesn’t seem to matter how hard and how long you work, you can’t get back on top of it all.
Just for one moment, I want you to think of someone you know who you think is really productive.
It may be someone you know personally or someone who you know of, like a business personality.
You know they only have the same 24 hours as you in a day right? So what is it they are doing differently with their time than you?
To start understanding this you need to take a step back.
Step back from the to-do lists and start to go inside your head as this is where productivity starts – in your mind.
Busy people who say they struggle with time management often feel out of control. They feel like everything is happening to them, and they just have to keep plodding on trying their hardest to work through it all.
Insanely Productive People are Always in Control
Productive people on the other hand, know that they are in control of the 24 hours in their day and they have a choice how to spend it.
That’s the first step to being productive – accepting that you have a choice. A choice to do things and, a choice to not do things.
Do you feel like you have a choice each day in how you spend your time?
Another trick that productive people use is to manage their focus.
You’ve probably already heard that it’s best to focus on one thing at a time right? Multi-tasking is definitely NOT a way to achieve productivity.
Highly Productive People Focus on One Thing at a Time
Choose what you are going to do and focus on getting it done. Then move on.
Let me give you an example here – how many things do you have open on your computer right now? It’s become quite normal to start your computer up, open your email page, open up your Facebook and Twitter page, from there click on a couple of interesting articles you want to have a read of….
Before you know it, in just a couple of minutes you’ve got half a dozen things open, none of which are probably important in moving you to your goals!
If you take just one tip away from this article – try and keep only the thing that you are working on open on your computer at any one time.
This forces you to focus on the job in hand and not get distracted, flicking from screen to screen.
By focusing on the moment, productive people are not thinking about what they’re not doing, or what they think they should be doing, or what they need to do next. They’re fully engaged in the moment and not wasting energy elsewhere in their head.
Imagine this scenario:
You’re writing a report for a client. It needs finishing today and should take you a couple of hours.
After 5 minutes you check your email, just in case anything important has come in. No. But you do see an email from a friend trying to sort out a date to meet up. It’ll only take a couple of minutes to respond, so you do.
While you’re there, you spot an interesting article you want to read. Off you go to read through it.
10 minutes or so later, you remember the report. Back to it.
15 minutes later you scan over the Facebook screen and see that a couple of notifications have come in, Better just check them out. And while you’re there just have a quick scan of your news feed.
Then 20 minutes later you check the clock – crikey, you’d better crack on with that report.
And so it carries on, with the report taking you 3 hours to finish. Well, probably only 2 on the report and 1 looking at other stuff.
Very busy but not productive.
Now let’s pretend you’re productive.
When you turn your computer on you go straight to the report you need to write and get on with it.
You don’t open anything else until it’s finished, one and a half hours later.
Why’s it quicker to complete? Because you are in the flow. You know where you are throughout the process as you’re not stopping and starting and having to get back in the flow each time.
Right, now you can check your emails and respond to them, and next you check and update your social media.
You are focusing on 1 thing at a time and taking back control of your time.
Another tip from productive people, they know their goals and their vision.
Once you get clarity on these it gets easier to know what you should be spending your time on.
They know what to say no to, and are happy to do this if something doesn’t align to their vision.
They are happy to take things off their lists if they are no longer valid.
They ask themselves each day – “what can I do today to move me nearer my goals?”
They will delegate where they can, and work to their strengths.
They’ve given up on perfection and are aiming for progress instead.
How can you start to take on the traits of productive people and become one of them?
Today’s Micro Action
Recognise the choices you make with your time and take back some control. Decide which traits of productive people you are going to adopt.