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Following is a list of strategies that will get you on the road to creating more in less time and TURBO-CHARGING your productivity! You can start with the one that jazzes you the most and take it from there. No pressure! Find a BUDDY or an accountability partner to try this with, or share it with your coach if you have one so you'll have more incentive to make these positive steps forward. Are you ready? Here we go:
MANAGE YOUR ENERGY
There are four LEVEL of energy that need our attention. You can manage your physical energy by eating nutritious foods, exercising, and sleeping. You can manage your emotional energy by paying attention to how you respond to events and being aware of what you can and cannot control. Also, spending time with positive, inspiring people can enhance your emotional energy. You can manage your mental energy by reading, expanding your knowledge base, and being curious. You can manage your spiritual energy by meditation or prayer, and being committed to a purpose in life that benefits all. Naturally, when your energy levels are HIGHER, your productivity increases too.
COLLABORATE WITH OTHERS
This may be a stretch for people who are used to flying solo on most things, but you might surprise yourself if you find someone to work with that will result in an outcome BEYOND each of your dreams. You can find collaborators by doing volunteer work in your community, networking, and taking advantage of your center of influence both locally and in the virtual world. It's important that these potential partners share similar VALUES with you, and if you both have a common vision, the sky can be the limit!
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY RHYTHMS
In economics, we use a term called "decreasing marginal productivity," and in layman's terms, it means that your productivity levels tend to increase at a SLOWER rate over time. If you know when you work best, you can consciously know when you're maxing out and take a break when the time comes. Do you work better in the morning? How about in the evening or afternoon? If you have the opportunity to work when you're the most productive and efficient, and REST when you feel like it's starting to be a big effort, you'll get more done.
USE YOUR STRENGTHS AND FARM OUT THE REST
Weighing the costs of time versus money can be very revealing. It's usually best to FOCUS on what you do best for better productivity. Think about what you could farm out to someone else. Think about your own worth per hour. Could you make more money doing what you're good at rather than save money by doing something you should pay someone else to do? If you can AUTOMATE some of these processes, then all the better!
RECOGNIZE THE CYCLE OF CHAOS AND ORDER
Did you know that creativity can be a really MESSY process, and that it's not necessarily a bad thing? If you don't stress about the "mess" (conceptually and literally) when in the midst of creative, right brain activities, you'll move through the process much more quickly. Oftentimes, the order naturally EMERGES during this process, and usually what comes out on the other end is quite coherent and delightful, whether it's a work of art or a business plan. On the other hand, order can also come in handy right from the very beginning, especially when working on more linear processes like paying bills, doing your financial forecasts, family routines, and so on. The trick is to have a system in place that has some structure with flexibility built in.
USE A YOUR NATURAL PERSONALITY
I've noticed three basic PERSONALITIES over the years: the "goal-oriented with optimistic 'to-do' lists" personality; the "naturally schedule-oriented, planning your days to the minute detail" personality; and the "hate routine and fly by the seat of your pants, and maybe even thrive on it" personality. And there are variations within each of these. They can even overlap. There is no RIGHT way to be if it works for you instead of against you. For example, optimistic goals are great, but the key is not to beat yourself up if you don't reach all of them. Planning to the minute detail works well if you have realistic expectations about your 'to-do' list. If you're efficient and stress-free with flying by the seat of your pants, then who am I to rock the boat?
Procrastination can transcend the personality types mentioned above, so think about why you procrastinate. Is it because it's a boring task? Is it a big scary task? Is it a task you don't see as a high priority? Naming it out loud and on paper is a good start. Here's a challenge for the chronic procrastinator. Take out a piece of paper and draw two lines in a cross so that you have four boxes. The idea would be to get in touch with your rebel and write all the things on which you've procrastinated in the top left box; in the top right box, your REASONS for procrastinating; in the bottom left box, the COST of not doing them; then in the right bottom box, all the BENEFITS of doing those things you've procrastinated on. After you've done that, share these with someone you know who wants you to succeed.
PRACTICE DAILY SELF-AWARENESS
Another favorite activity of mine is what I call "Downloading my brain to paper." You wouldn't believe the relief I feel after JOURNALING -- especially after a stressful day. If you're a scheduler, carve out a certain time of day to do this. Or if you're like me, journal when the spirit hits you if scheduling seems too restrictive. Write everything that is on your mind, including items you know you need to be working on. These can include areas of physical well being, relationships, or some tolerations you've been avoiding like shampooing your carpets, cleaning out a closet or desk drawer, and so on. Don't edit yourself. No one has to see what you wrote. Some of the greatest ideas have been born in the journal. I always have more CLARITY after journaling and my productivity goes through the roof as a result.
MAKE SURE YOU SCHEDULE YOU TIME EVERY DAY
I promise you after taking down time for yourself -- even if it's just 30 minutes to an hour a day, doing something you absolutely love -- you will be much more PRODUCTIVE after you've come back from that break. Remember, when your marginal productivity decreases, you're wasting time anyway. Many of you who are moms may have heard the phrase, "If Mom's not happy, then no one in the house is happy!" But even if you're not a mom, and you live with others, this rule can apply. Invitation: Take a moment to write down three RITUALS that you know give you energy. Examples can include reading, exercise, journaling, gardening, music, sports, sailing, tai chi, yoga, or spending time in nature.
EMPLOY SOME OF THE TRADITIONAL TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS
Either the night before, or the following morning, make a list on the left hand side of a page of what you INTEND to do that day. Then on the right side, at the end of the day, list what you actually did. Evaluate how you did each day. Did you meet your expectations, or did you schedule too much? List all of the DISTRACTIONS that come up for you -- the annoying ones and those that you find enjoyable. I challenge you to use those fun distractions as rewards after putting a dent in your proverbial "to-do" list. If the phone rings, let it go to voice mail. Turn off your instant messaging (if you have it). Tell your friends not to come over unannounced unless it's an emergency or unless they want to help you with your tasks. And prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!
For your blended learning pleasure Carol Dickson-Carr has created a free 30 minute audio that goes into depth on how to increase your productivity. Carol makes money using her creativity and helps others do the same. She is co-author of "A Guide to Getting It: Purpose & Passion" and creator of an audio series to help you "Master Your Time So You Can Live Your Dreams". Visit her website at managingpersonalresources.com.
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