Make the Decision
The first step to become more productive is by making the decision to be. This is different than saying “I will do___ for the New Year.” Making a decision is the heart and mind coming together to say “enough is enough” and choosing to develop mental toughness, and consistency day-in and day-out. Once the decision is made to step into the direction of the better you then it will become easier to plan your months, weeks, and days according to your goals, identify areas to improve upon, and not give into distractions. Making the decision to become better also makes you more receptive to constructive criticism from mentors which is feedback that is absolutely essential to personal growth.
Mind Your Body’s Natural Rhythm
We all have points in the day where we work our best and when our energy levels dip and our mental fatigue kicks in. These are known as circadian rhythms and ultradian rhythms. In other words, the morning people and the night owls. Sustained productivity and motivation all start from a nurtured vessel so it’s important to honor when you work your best in order to plan your tasks accordingly. If you work a 9-5, take note of the days that you are most energetic as well as the time blocks during those days to know what high value tasks should be scheduled during that time. In order to give your best effort to your most meaningful tasks, you have to have the energy reserved for it.
Mind Your Environment
Maintaining peak levels of performance requires knowing where you work your best in order to be able to focus and give the task 110%. For me, this means leaving my house and working at a coffee shop, or waking up early to benefit from the peaceful morning before I have to put my wife/business owner hats on. For you, that might be arranging your desk in a particular order, working with music, or working in a public space. Whatever you need to trigger your brain to get into “work mode” is another way to increase and sustain your productivity. If your circumstances do not allow you to change your environment, perhaps incorporating a personal routine or ritual to get you going.
Stop Creating Overwhelming To-do Lists
Progress is a slow process so self-pace is extremely important in order to have a lasting impact. Having an extensive to-do lists can work against you because the incomplete items can become discouraging and seem insurmountable. Since this negative emotion works against you, create a list that energizes and keeps you motivated. This is done by having no more than 5 items on your to-do list within an 8 hour period. Once you’ve identified what needs to be done then you can prioritize each task based on the following criteria:
- Which one will get me 80% closer to my goal for the day/week?
- Which one requires more of my time and energy?
- Which one can I delegate?
This method might seem like it is time-consuming at first but once you find your stride it will become second nature. You’ll not only be surprised at how much you get done in a short amount of time, but how much time you will have do to what you want from the eliminated time-wasters.
The human mind is created to make snap judgements within seconds. It’s a survival trait that has stood the test of time and will be with us for many centuries to come. Considering we no longer have to concern ourselves with hunting and surviving in the wilderness, we can make use of this survival trait in the 21st century with color-coding. If you follow me on Instagram, then you’re familiar with my support of a color-coding system. The reason is because it triggers a natural instinct in our mind to make a snap decision when we see that color by evoking an emotion or reaction which can lead to increased productivity. I’m a proponent of selecting colors that are not overstimulating however, this is entirely a personal preference.
The New Year is always an exciting time. It’s an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. But, with reinvention comes change, and with that comes time, energy, and effort. Give yourself a leg up in the New Year with to-do lists that reinforce your personal boundaries by working with your personal rhythm and preferred environment, and color-coding tasks to help you create a well-oiled life management system. After all, you are only one decision away from the life that you see for yourself. What will you decide?