It’s not just the idea but the execution that leads to success. So, productivity is a major part of the equation.
What is Personal Productivity?
If you asked several people what personal productivity meant to them you would probably receive a different definition of the term from each individual.
In the traditional sense, productivity is about maximizing outputs, increasing profits, or both. But in the modern sense, when we say “productivity,” we often mean “personal productivity.”
Simply put, personal productivity is completing the actions that move you closer to accomplishing your goals in a manner that brings balance and ease into your life
Personal productivity is ultimately about achieving goals.
Why is Personal Productivity Required?
Until a couple of years, I never gave due emphasis to personal productivity.
It’s true that I’ve always tried to be as productive as possible in my professional life, but I didn’t care about being a disaster in my personal life.
Now I have no choice but to admit that I was pretty stupid on this issue. It’s not about money, it’s about time.
As I’ve been implementing GTD in my personal and professional life, I’ve felt its benefits and, finally, I’ve realized that time is the most valuable asset in my life.
Personal Productivity allows you to either accomplish more things in the same amount of time or accomplish the same number of things in less time (whichever is more important for you).
When you’re serious about your productivity, you start doing less meaningless work — because you are aware of it — and focus on the tasks that have a greater impact on a personal level.
This is hard to accept in a society that rewards personal sacrifice — time spent being busy — more than productivity.
When you learn to appreciate what you’re doing in terms of contribution to your goals rather than time spent, a productive day work can be reduced to 3–5 hours.
That is priceless.
“It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”
Personal Productivity Simplified
So, personal productivity is all about doing important things instead of meaningless things.
- Doing more with less effort.
- Not letting the circumstances of others drive your life.
- More time for you.
- A meaningful life.
The 10 Commandments of Personal Productivity
1. Set realistic and achievable goals.
- Setting a goal with a deadline and sticking to it can help increase productivity immensely.
- One reason people have problems reaching and completing their goals is the lack of a deadline.
- Set personal and professional goals that are both attainable and ambitious — even if the deadline is weeks away.
- Work towards something big, and complete smaller tasks along the way.
2. Prepare for the Next Day
- That feeling of ‘I have (blank) to do tomorrow’ that often keeps us up at night can be avoided by writing a quick to-do list before bed.
- Keep a pad and pen next to your bed to jot down any ideas or worries before you go to sleep to avoid them stewing in your mind and keeping you awake.
3. Know When to Take a Break
- The most productive people know when to take a step back and take a break. Working at maximum productivity for hours at a time is exhausting and stressful.
- Instead, working in short bursts is more effective, writes Kim Roch at Lifehack.org. Setting a timer and working until it goes off then taking a 10-minute break, might be helpful in keeping you on track.
4. Concentrate on the How-to’s, Not the What-if’s
- Analyzing and overthinking the outcome and what might happen instead of researching and preparing for the actual process can rob you of your productivity.
- Instead of worrying about possible speed bumps, focus on how to get to your destination.
5. Complete the Most Important Tasks First Thing in the Morning
- Waking up early might not sound pleasant to all of us, but getting out of bed a bit earlier to complete your most intimidating task can help make the day seem easier.
- Don’t put off your most important task until the last minute; instead, focus on the most important task first, complete it, and then start on ‘secondary’ tasks.
- Completing the most daunting task first will help you feel less inner resistance towards tasks later in the day and your productivity will increase.
6. If You Fail, Keep Going
- The road to success is marked by many failures. There is the term ‘fail forward’ or ‘fail up’ which refers to taking a failure and viewing it as an opportunity.
- Travis Smiley has written a book about just that where he urges readers to reconsider how they view their past mistakes. He gives twenty examples of ‘failures’ that helped shape the principles and practices he uses today.
7. Balance Focused Work with Focused Rest.
- Sleep and rest are important parts of keeping your productivity level high.
- Setting a specific amount of time for working and another shorter period for resting, can help you feel less intimidated by larger tasks.
- Eliminating distractions before bed like your cell phone, computer, or TV can help relax your mind and give you a more fulfilling sleep.
8. Eliminate Unnecessary Distractions
- Whether it be the internet, TV, or anything else, eliminating distractions is key in maintaining productivity.
- Try taking a deep breath, finding a quiet place to work, and focusing on essential tasks first, suggests Leo Babauta.
- Create a list of things you need to get done, then focus on the essentials first.
- Are there any unnecessary tasks that could be eliminated? After getting your mind on track, find a positive, quiet environment, like a coffee shop or other peaceful location where you can work.
9. Try Working Outdoors.
- Take your notebook, computer, or tablet outside or to your local park and try working there.
- The new environment, fresh air, and vitamin D from the sun can help stimulate and maximize your productivity.
- On cooler days, the cool, crisp air can perk and wake you up, and the fresh air will vitalize your brain and help you work better, Hsu says.
10. Seek Knowledge.
Whether it be watching documentaries, listening to audiobooks on the way to work, or simply reading a book, the most productive people crave and seek out extra knowledge.
Take a few minutes out of the day to read the paper or a novel, watch the news, or listen to a podcast.
I have always believed that staying away from TV for an hour and opening a book can do wonders for your work.
And, finally, I will end this blog with a very apt quote on productivity… “If there are nine rabbits on the ground, if you want to catch one, just focus on one.” — Jack Ma