Do you ever wonder where the day went? How is it already midnight? You meant to finish the laundry, but now it’s too late to run the dryer without disturbing the neighbor!
Getting to the end of summer holidays without accomplishing the one big thing you intended to do can be even more frustrating.
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This, no doubt, sounds familiar, and we all have days or months like that from time to time. If you find yourself in this quandary too often, however, it’s time to focus on increasing your personal productivity with a few simple tips; otherwise, you might not get anything done!
1. Know Where You’re Headed/Understand Your Priorities
When embarking upon any self-improvement activity, start with clear direction so it’s in the front of your mind on a daily basis.
If you haven’t done some “deep thinking” in a while, now is the ideal time.
Set aside some moments when you won’t be distracted or constantly checking your watch.
Find a quiet corner, or take yourself out to a favorite place where you find personal tranquility, such as the park.
Think about what you really want to accomplish in life, and what is most important to you.
What are your current priorities? Perhaps you crave a happy, tranquil home life, or to earn an A in the class you just began.
Your “big picture” becomes the basis for deciding whether your daily choices are right for you. In other words, are you making progress and being productive or only passing time?
2. Make Your List and Check It More Than Twice
Once you have your big picture in front of you, keep a list of the smaller items that need your attention to prevent you from derailing toward your bigger goals, such as “clear out front closet before Mom’s visit.”
You have six thank-you notes to write following a birthday? Write it down! These are reminders of things you care about doing, and having a written To-Do list helps you stay organized, leads to greater personal productivity and actually lowers stress.
When you find yourself with an extra half hour, reach for the list and choose an item you can complete in the available time. It feels great to check the items off one by one. Enjoy it!
One caveat: Keep it simple and achievable.
Trying to include every little thing you may need or want to do is a recipe for disappointment. A very long list can be intimidating, and often becomes an excuse to ignore the things that need to be done!
3. Always Have a Plan — Know What You Will Do Each Day
Plan your days for ultimate productivity.
Some days your plan feels obvious because of “standing items” — Tuesday is Jennie’s piano lesson at 3 p.m.; Thursday is the day for grocery shopping, and so on. But is that all you want to accomplish on Tuesday or Thursday? Probably not!
At the end of each day, be sure to plan the following day. You don’t need a minute-by-minute plan, but map out what you know you need to accomplish alongside any “standing items.”
4. Eliminate Time Wasters — We All Have Them!
Time wasters are the things that you spend time on that will not move you toward your goals and do not help you complete the items on your list.
Watching daytime television and spending buckets of time online are good examples of serious time wasters. Do you really need to check Facebook six times a day? Turn off the automatic alerts on websites, email and on your phone.
It’s not necessary to let them control your day!
If you can’t go “cold turkey,” schedule a bit of time for these pastimes into your daily plan — say 30 minutes to an hour. No more! Consider using an electronic timer to keep you on track, or set an alarm on your smartphone. When it rings, stop what you’re doing and move on. You are in control!
5. Update Your List Regularly — Don’t Lock Yourself In If Priorities Change
Personal productivity is an ongoing challenge that eventually becomes a good habit.
As time goes by and you accomplish more and more, you will feel better about yourself!
New challenges will arise, and priorities may change.
That’s OK! Reassess your big picture from time to time and keep your To-Do list current. Drop the items that no longer require attention. If you missed a “deadline” and the item no longer matters, take it off your list. Move on. There’s no point stewing over it. Simply resolve to keep making progress.
Most importantly, celebrate your successes along the way. You are in control of what you accomplish each day, and, eventually, you will achieve that big picture!