A topic that comes up often with my clients is the desire to be more productive with their goals. Clients want to see progress and they want to see it quickly. With so many tasks and distractions competing for our attention, it can be challenging to stay focused and productive throughout the day. Fortunately, there are several practical ways to boost your daily productivity and achieve your goals.
Set Small, Clear, Manageable Goals That Are Prioritized By Importance and Urgency.
Before the day begins, dedicate some time to make a list of what you want to accomplish for the day. Maybe you have a list of ten things you want to accomplish, narrow that down to three. If you accomplish those three things and have time do to more, everything else is a bonus! Setting clear and manageable goals is crucial to maintaining productivity throughout the day. Having some direction and insight about your most important “to-do’s” will give you more meaning and purpose throughout the day and will help you stay on track. For example, ask yourself, “What top 3 things could I accomplish today that would make today great?” If they aren’t clear, manageable, or important, go back to the drawing board.
Oof! It seems like distractions have become a bigger deal than ever before, with so many notifications, messages, and updates vying for our attention, it's easy to become overwhelmed and lose sight of our priorities. Distractions can be one of the most significant productivity killers, so it's essential to minimize them as much as possible. This might require some discipline so start practicing. Here are a couple of ideas for eliminating distractions and staying focused:
Leave your phone in the other room while you’re working or turn it on “Do Not Disturb” while you’re trying to work. Get that sucker out of your sight for a dang minute.
Eliminate multitasking. Instead of trying to juggle multiple tasks at once, try focusing on one task at a time and giving it your full attention. This can help you complete tasks more efficiently and effectively, and reduce the temptation to switch back and forth between tasks.
Practice mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness can help eliminate distractions by training your brain to focus on the present moment and tune out external stimuli. When you're practicing mindfulness, you become more aware of your mental and physical states and recognize when your attention is wandering, and make a mindful choice to do something about it.
Ask For Help (every once in a while).
Communicate your needs to those around you and consider asking others to help hold you accountable. You can ask your colleagues, friends, or loved ones to support you in whatever way you need it. It might seem like stating your needs is challenging. Try using techniques
from Non-Violent Communication Theory to help articulate your needs in a way that should help avoid conflict. A couple of examples might sound something like this:
"I need help. I'm finding it difficult to stay focused on my goals because I get easily distracted, and it's making me feel overwhelmed. Could you please watch the kids for a couple of hours this evening, so that I can have some uninterrupted time to work towards my goals?"
"I could really use your help. I struggle with staying on track with my goals because I tend to get distracted easily or feel like giving up. It would mean a lot to me if you could hold me accountable and check in with me regularly to see how I'm doing."
Notice how in both examples, the focus is on expressing your needs and feelings, rather than blaming or criticizing the listener. By using "I" statements and expressing vulnerability, you’re more likely to elicit a positive response from the listener and receive the help you need. Additionally, by making specific requests for help (e.g. watching the kids, holding you accountable), you’re more likely to receive the type of help you need to achieve your goals. For more information on ways to use Non-Violent Communication strategies, visit the Positive Psychology website.
Avoid Burnout By Taking Regular Breaks
Taking regular breaks can help you avoid burnout and increase productivity. It's essential to take breaks that allow you to recharge, emphasizing the importance of choosing activities that can truly recharge you, such as going for a walk (take your fur baby!), taking a quick power nap, or engaging in a hobby you enjoy. Avoid scrolling through social media, or starting another project as a break if that doesn’t recharge you.
Consider Using Tools and Resources That Help You Stay On Track.
There are productivity tools available that can help you stay on track and manage your time. For example, using the timer on your phone to help dedicate focus time to your tasks. I personally can only really focus on something for about 20 minutes before I start to fidget. I’ll set my timer for 20 minutes and when it goes off, that is permission to take a 5-minute break and come back to it. Check your smartphone for different productivity apps that work best for you. Another resource I love and highly recommend to clients is the Self Journal from Best Self. It’s a goal-setting planner designed to help you accomplish goals through daily planning and reflection. It provides a structured approach to goal-setting, prioritization, time management, reflection, and a focus on personal growth and accountability. If you want to give this journal a try, you can click on THIS LINK to access their website and get 15% off your whole order using the code COTTONWOOD23.
Take Care of Yourself Physically and Mentally
Sometimes it feels nearly impossible to make this a priority but it's essential to take care of yourself both physically and mentally to maintain daily productivity. Right now I am 7 months pregnant so for me, at the moment, I am trying to figure out what this looks like but you probably still have a fighting chance. This includes things like getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. You don’t have to have all of it dialed perfectly, but being mindful and checking in with yourself as a regular practice is a good way to honor yourself and experience the lovely side effect of increased productivity.
Just remember, increasing daily productivity requires a combination of strategies, including setting small, clear, and manageable goals, eliminating distractions, sometimes asking for help, taking breaks, using productivity tools, and taking care of yourself. By practicing these strategies, you can boost productivity, achieve your goals, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and feel awesome.