There are so many things out there for hacking productivity. How do you know when you've found the right one for you? How much time should you allot to testing or trying out a method before "marrying" it or knowing it's time to switch to a new one?
I smiled at this question because I went through a number of different productivity systems to help me alleviate my stress, help me find balance, help my days run smoother, and on and on and on before I settled on what I created with The Pinnacle Planner.
I read the articles on Forbes, Huffington Post and a host of other blogs. I implemented the systems every week, or month, depending on when things got too boring. The one constant was that I always found myself back searching.
After years of trial and error, I soon learned that no productivity system would ever work if I didn’t first study and honor MY way of working. For example, there are a TON of articles that state one should wake up at 5am (or earlier) to increase productivity. Well, if your natural circadian rhythm does not allow for this you’re implementing a system that is working against your body. If you are a natural night owl, own that and work accordingly. Please don’t feel like you are less productive because you’re not up at 5am.
There are a ton of other examples but this is the one I see as the most prevalent. Instead of starting with which productivity tips to put into practice I recommend first:
- Learning your body’s natural rhythm by paying attention to what part of the day you work your best. I work best in the morning. I am no good to anyone or anything between 2pm-4pm. So I schedule my days, projects, and responsibilities accordingly. Granted, will there be days where you have to just push through? Of course! However, honoring your body’s natural rhythm is the starting point to establishing a framework to work within when scheduling your tasks.
- Learning your mind by paying attention to how you internalize and process information the best. I believe that this one is often overlooked because we’re conditioned to work within a prescribed structure at work, school, etc. However, this one matters. For instance, I retain information (and focus) better by reading versus listening. I tend to daydream during podcasts or videos. Someone else might glaze over words but be more engaged with videos or audio. Another person might need to learn with a hands-on approach (tactile learning). Whichever way you learn the best is what should take priority. Once this is identified then you’ll be able to implement productivity strategies accordingly.
- Learn your environment by paying attention to what triggers your focus. This is another one that has been forgotten because we’re use to working in particular settings. Your environment matters. I can’t work in quiet environments. I get distracted easily. Instead, I work better in coffee shops or when I worked in my office job in D.C. I had to work with music on to help me focus and my desk had to be organized. There was a sort of ritual to it. I read an article somewhere that stated that a famous writer always had to work with an apple in his desk because the smell sparked his creativity. We don’t have to get that eccentric but the point is to find that ONE thing you need to help trigger your focus.
Yes, there is power in early morning wake-ups, color-coding, intentional to-do lists, and the other strategies that I believe in and share with you. But before we get into that, I encourage you to turn to yourself first and get an understanding of these three things. This way you can confidently pick and choose which productivity method works best for you. Once you do this you’ll be able to QUICKLY pick what works and stick with it for the long-term.
First published on the Instagram page