Making Real, Meaningful Progress Instead of Just Being "Busy"
I'll be the first to admit that seeming that we are busy all the time makes us feel like we're being more productive when we actually may not be doing much.
I started to realize back when I was in university how common it was for people around me to be almost bragging about how much they had to do and how stressed out they were and how there just isn't enough time in the day. But then when I really observed some people, I realized they really weren't doing much of anything because they weren't being productive.
They were side-stepping their priorities and they really weren't getting anywhere. Almost like a crab walking side-to-side instead of in a direct, forward motion - we sometimes forget our main, forward-progressing task and take on our less significant busy-body activities that make us feel as though we're making that progress.
Here are some tips to really go all in to actually get productive and start seeing some true progress with what you've set out to do.
1. Focus on targeted priorities each day.
When we're busy with things to do, we may feel like we need to keep adding more tasks on to our to-do list, when we should actually be focusing on targeted priorities each day that will move us closer to our goal.
Let's face it: checking things off those good ol' to-do lists is satisfying beyond belief. But do we really need to be adding some of those really minor things (i.e. brush teeth, etc.) just to feel that rush of excitement we get when we inevitably check it off the list?!
I try to have a maximum of four (yes, four!) big-ticket items that will really move me forward with my tasks. They may be a little bit more difficult, but if I can complete it during the day or week, I know that after that, I will be on to the next chapter of that project instead of endlessly dancing around certain tasks that never really get me anywhere.
2. Ask yourself one question.
On my phone's lock screen, I have one sentence:
"Ask yourself if what you're doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow."
Just asking ourselves this question will help to focus our minds instead of constantly running around ticking things off the to-do list. Have you been avoiding certain tasks because you don't know what will happen after that? Because you may get a negative answer or response to something? Are you getting too comfortable with running around doing a little bit of everything that you're a bit nervous (even on a sub-conscious level) of that bit of discomfort that stems from not knowing a certain specific outcome?
Think about these questions and decide to go forth anyway with your goals and priorities. You're not going to grow if you're stuck running around in the stuff you've been running around with for the past months or even years!
3. Visualize your perfect, most-productive next-day.
Starting the night before, I like to try to imagine my best and most productive next-day. What would you do? How would you do it?
Be realistic, but don't sell yourself short. Like I said, I like to write down around four specific goals for the day as well as the smaller, more actionable steps it would take to achieve those goals.
4. Go easy on yourself.
Don't be too hard on yourself when it comes to hitting ALL the goals or checking off ALL the to-do boxes! If you don't get around to something that day, don't let yourself fall off the productivity band-wagon! Just try adding it to your next day's three top priorities.
After about a week of this, check in with yourself to see how you feel. Maybe you feel a little more grounded and less all-over-the-place. Maybe you could get used to something like this in your everyday life!
5. Automate those pesky but necessary everyday items.
Automation really helps with not doing the productivity side-step. If you're too focused on writing THAT day's blog post or sprucing up your social media profiles with no real strategy in place, chances are you're not going to be getting down to the nitty-gritty good stuff of your business.
Ideas of things to start batching for later, automatic publication include things like blog posts, social media posts, email marketing newsletters, email in general (by only checking email once of twice a day à la Tim Ferriss), the list goes on...
It can be a lot of work at first to get into the habit of automating your to-do tasks, but once you've found a system that works for you, it is soooo worth it!!
Thanks for reading, friends! I hope this tips help you move forward more productively rather than running around in circles of stressed busy-ness!
Stay cool, stay creative!