Do you ever have the feeling that you sat at your desk or computer all day and got nothing done? I used to feel that way until I started giving myself rules to accomplish more within a given time frame. Here are 6 ways to increase your personal productivity and get more done.
1.Start with Specific Goals
Its hard to determine whether or not you’ve accomplished anything if you don’t have goals. Why specific? Because it helps you focus. If you write, commit to putting a set number of words on the page or writing a set number of paragraphs. If you’re a performer or business owner aim to rehearse three songs or scenes, paint for an hour or make 10 sales calls. Specific goals, even small ones, help you to focus your efforts. If a word count or something similar isn’t your style, aim to finish one thing and start something else. This way you’re always on track.
Starting something new after completing a goal means you’ll know what to concentrate on the next day. Specific goals help you to focus and you’re less likely to waste you’re time and get distracted. Don’t go overboard and make up unrealistic goals. That won’t help you to be more productive. That will just set you up for disappointment. Make your goals, specific, actionable and meaningful to you. At the end of the day you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment having met the goals you’ve set.
2. Schedule Yourself
If you freelance or have a side job, finding time to do what you have to is difficult. Being a freelancer means you have to practice discipline. Being an artist means you have to practice discipline. Learn to schedule yourself consistently. Having pre-determined work hours will reduce the ambiguity. With your actionable goals in hand, give yourself a time frame to really work on each item.
Don’t forget to schedule breaks so that you can recharge or rest. You don’t have to have traditional work hours from 9-5, but most people are comfortable with those hours. You can dedicate evenings, mornings or a certain day of the week to your most challenging activities. Even better give yourself a set amount of time to do specific tasks. Figure out when you’re most inspired or patient and take advantage of those times to be more productive and get more work done.
3. Break Projects Down Into Steps
Some projects can look overwhelming when you begin. The most important step when tackling a project is to start. Take 1 or 2 steps, get past the fear and keep moving along. It’s helpful to break large, difficult projects down into smaller phases. When faced with a project that you can’t seem to finish try the add on method. Add 1 piece to it at a time, section by section until you’re done. It may be 1 sentence or source or editing one paragraph. If you keep adding on 1 piece at a time you will finish. You almost trick yourself into finishing difficult projects. This way you can be more productive without the fuss.
4. Use Inspiration
Find what inspires you. Its hard to work through projects creative or non, without inspiration. Some people are inspired by nature, others by music. Find what triggers you to think and do. Recreate that experience as accurately as possible when you need to get a project done. Do something that unlocks the creative or analytical part of your brain. Sometimes I listen to music that inspires me. One technique that helps me is to read or research on the subject that I’m interested in. Even if that doesn’t specifically help me complete a current project, it always leads to ideas for other things. Allow your brain to make those connections and to veer just off track.
5. Don’t Log On
Social media is great in that it keeps us all connected. But hopping on social media sites can suck up hours a day. You Tube has fun videos, Facebook always has updates and Twitter is a constant stream of information. Avoid logging on. It will feel extreme at first. Unless you need to do research for a particular project stay away from the internet as long as possible.
Breaking news is also a temptation, so avoid those sites as well. Try to avoid any fun stuff until you take an official break. Updating statuses, reading news online, or reading your favorite blogs can wait until you’ve finished a piece of ‘ your project. Schedule your breaks to include internet fun time if you want, but don’t take a ‘moment’ to peek. You’ll find one interesting thing after another and that peek will turn into a wasted half hour. That is not the way to be more productive. Do any internet research beforehand all at once.
6. Pinpoint What Slows You Down
Pay attention to what slows you down or stops your work flow. Are you distracted by TV, the news, people or traffic near you? Reduce or remove anything that steals your attention and doesn’t contribute to your work load. Maybe outside distractions aren’t your problem. If your minds tends to wander you have to find a way to refocus yourself. Maybe you need a change of environment or to gather all of your materials first. Whatever keeps you in the zone once you get there is useful.
These are my favorite techniques to crank out writing and tackle acting projects. These tips really do help me to be more productive. I’ll update or do a part 2 to this post if I think of more.
What about you, what helps you to get more done?