When was the last time you asked yourself a tough question? For me, it’s almost daily.
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Part of the reason for this is that I think it’s a good exercise in challenging your beliefs and better understanding why you do what you do. If you take everything at face value it can be hard to know where you stand on important issues. You run the risk of stumbling through life looking for a deeper sense of purpose and meaning. Maybe you are doing that right now?
I don’t have the answers for the meaning of life but I know that I like to be happy. For me, happiness comes when I am productive and crossing things off my to-do list (more on that later).
But Recently I Found Myself In A Rut
I wasn’t productive at work, and would often be too lazy to enjoy my hobbies on the weekend. I challenged the way I did things and noticed a huge improvement. I want to share with you four of the unconventional ways I became more productive.
My hope for you is that you take these suggestions and implement them. They only work if you are open minded to giving them a try.
The Not To Do List
I got this idea from Tim Ferriss, the author of “The 4 Hour Work Week”. We all have to do lists with things we need to get done for the day, but he suggests flipping the script. Each day write down things you should not be doing.
For me, they were things like, checking my email for more than an hour each morning, checking marketing stats every couple of hours, eating a heavy lunch (mainly bacon cheeseburgers and pizza), and checking my phone while on breaks.
I found that this enabled me to find the triggers that send me into 15-30 minutes of unproductive work time. By writing them down and being more aware of them I was able to see them for what they are and side step them to make sure I am staying productive. Try it.
Write down 5 things that you shouldn’t do this week at work and look at them every day.
Unsubscribe From Email Marketers That Don’t Provide Value
I check my email multiple times per day. I usually spend a couple hours in my inbox. I get distracted by sales, newsletters, and all sorts of other emails.
To keep the clutter down in my inbox and help me not waste as much time, I started unsubscribing from companies and brands that I don’t get much value from. I usually spend a 15-minute break every Friday doing this.
It makes me feel amazing that I am actively planning a work week that is less cluttered and making sure I only get information worth reading in my inbox.
Say No To Everything For A Week
I don’t remember where I heard about this one, but I tried it and I was pleasantly surprised by the results. To be clear, you cannot say no to everything your boss says or to things that will affect your employment status.
But if someone asks you to do something and you have a choice…say no. My go-to response was, “I would love to do X but I have a lot on my plate right now and need to get it done. Let’s revisit this next week and see if it’s still a priority.”
I ditched 3 meetings and countless other tasks that ended up not being brought up again. I love this exercise because it shows you what’s important versus urgent.
Try it for a week.
Say no to requests on your time in a polite way and see if they get brought up again next week. I think you will be surprised how much more time you have to focus on important things.
A Goal A Day Exercise
I am a goal setter. Almost to a fault. I probably have set too many goals to be honest. But I started to get frustrated when I wasn’t progressing to some of my six-month goals. I started to feel stressed, and therefore, not as productive.
I released myself from my future goals by planning daily goals. Breaking it down (chunking) is a psychological and mathematical way of making incremental progress towards a big goal. For instance, I wanted to start getting in shape again after work.
So instead of focusing on losing 10 lbs in three months, my goal was to make it to the gym by 6:00pm that day. I knew that by just making it to the gym I would do some sort of exercise and I could be proud of the small win and build on it.
Wrapping It Up
These might not be earth shattering and provocative ways to become more productive. But they work. The key is creating small wins and building on those. Having momentum in your favor when you are trying to see personal growth is super important.
At times it can be foolish to want to change overnight and expect your bad habits to completely disappear. Only through thoughtful, meaningful, and measurable actions can you start to see self-improvement and become more productive.
Try out the four unconventional methods to become more productive.