Rethinking Productivity

When you hear the word productivity, the immediate thought that comes to mind is doing more. But I think we should be challenging this notion.

In a world that is always on, your capacity stretched to the limit and saturated with a constant flow of notifications, emails and information that needs to processed, doing more is not the answer!

Productivity is not the next app or quick fix tool; it should be how you focus your time and energy to create freedom. Freedom from stress, fatigue, and guilt. Freedom to invest your time in the areas of your life that have real value.

Things to consider when trying to boost productivity:

  1. Have you taken the time to think about what really matters in your life?
  2. Are those areas protected from time thieves?
  3. Do you have clearly defined values and goals?
  4. Do you have a clear view of everything that needs to be done? I am a passionate advocate of doing regular brain dumps as a tool to accomplish this and reduce feelings of overwhelm.
  5. Do YOU need to do all these things? Is it the best use of your time? Can this be outsourced to free up more of your life to do the things that really matter?
  6. Have you looked at the tasks on your to-do list and thought about the time they take to complete vs the return on your investment of time?
  7. Are you being conservative with what you can achieve in any given period or is your time and energy completely over-subscribed?
  8. Are you on team FOMO or team YOMO?
  9. What are your digital habits like? Are you checking email late into the night? Feeling pressure to respond to every single notification immediately?
  10. What can you cut down or eliminate from your ever-expanding to-do list?
  11. What are you doing purely out of guilt? What makes you feel used or resentful?
  12. What emotions and programming are increasing the pressure to be all things to all people? What is the internal dialogue you are having with yourself?
  13. Are you assertive enough and do your boundaries hold?
  14. Are you delegating responsibilities to others, empowering them to contribute and holding them accountable? Or are you simply doing everything yourself?
  15. Are you taking care of yourself in a way that enables you to function optimally? Do you make time to recharge your energy and your happiness?

The answers to these questions will give you a clear indication of what you need to change and what is working. The key to boosting your productivity at home and work is CLARITY, PRIORITIES and BOUNDARIES.

The next step is planning and deliberate action to improve your time management and energy utilisation.

Get specific about what changes need to be made and think in the ‘sphere of the possible.’ Some items will remain on your to-do list because there simply isn’t anyone else to do them or because they are important to you (and that is perfect), we need to identify the little time thieves that can be transferred out or discarded all together. 

You need to plan and make time for YOU (because there will never be time), this is like waiting to see a unicorn! Carve it out, understand that it is not a waste or a luxury but an investment.

Get serious about doing less! We live in a world that glorifies busy and output. But remember, you are a human being, not a human doing! Freedom and flexibility are the goals we should be striving for.

Give yourself permission to ask for help! Finding support is NOT a sign of weakness, it is a sign of intelligence and self-confidence. Knowing your limits and being wise enough to reach out, before you burn-out is powerful. We can prevent so many problems in life if we can simply pick up the phone and say “hey, I need some support”

AVOID MULTI-TASKING – science has proven over and over that it is not effective. It splits focus and has a switching cost between tasks which means that it takes longer to do things and the quality of your results is lower. In the words of Jack Ma “If there are nine rabbits on the ground, if you want to catch one, just focus on one.” 

Do the unpleasant or complicated things on your to-do list first. That way your day gets easier and more enjoyable. Procrastination erodes your confidence, so be strict with yourself.

Know your optimal time of day. When are your concentration and energy levels at their peak? Work according to your body clock when ever possible. This will radically improve how much you get done and the quality of your results.

Once you have the plan you need to execute! Don’t overthink it! Nothing changes unless you transition into the action phase. Stick to your plan, communicate your expectations to others, learn to say no and approach this hour by hour and day by day. This is not a crash diet or a quick fix, it’s a lifestyle and will need long-term commitment. The small incremental wins will stack up quickly and you will see MASSIVE changes in a month.

The goal here should not be more production, more output, more tasks, more responsibilities – it should be more quality time with family and friends, time to be creative and generate new ideas for your business and most importantly more time for you to enjoy the good things in life.

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