Many of us know the answer to the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer, “One bite at a time”! Sadly, for many of us our To Do Lists can outweigh an elephant and yet we actually tackle our To Do Lists like we would eat an elephant – by checking off one item after another. Unfortunately at some point we get too full to finish eating the elephant so we give up and the same is true for our To Do Lists. They just keep building and the task of actually completing all the items on our To Do List becomes overwhelming.
A few simple Personal Productivity Tips can help you tame your To Do List and in turn help you live the life you always dreamed of.
Personal Productivity Tip 1: Set goals. Don’t just survive your day; thrive by taking steps every day that move you toward your dreams. Too often we get so caught up in the process of being busy that we fail to plan our lives. We end up reacting to the incoming requests that present themselves each day in the form of emails, phone calls, mail, interruptions, etc. and let them guide us through our days and hence, our lives.
Personal Productivity Tip 2: Plan Ahead. Spend 10 to 15 minutes each night looking over your To Do list, appointments and projects and prioritize and schedule the most important items for action the following day. Take this one step further by actually assigning the completion of these priority items as an appointment on your calendar. This is an appointment you must keep with yourself. Make sure you factor in some down time and procrastination time (you know you do it). It is important to make your schedule realistic and achievable. It is also important to have time to recharge your batteries to be able to operate at your optimum productivity. Actually schedule your sleep time on your calendar. Don’t assume you can work an 80 hour week without burning yourself out.
Personal Productivity Tip 3: Make time for what matters most. Make sure that the tasks you assign yourself are in alignment with your goals. If not, re-evaluate their importance and the priority you give them.
Personal Productivity Tip 4: Determine if you are living to work or working to live. If you work 60 plus hours a week and hate it but do it just to have the big house, big car, etc. but are too worn out and stressed out to enjoy it, is it really worth it? Try living on less, not just less stuff but less stress.
Personal Productivity Tip 5: Set limits. It is a well know rule that things expand to fill the space and time available. The larger your space the more stuff you get to fill it. The more storage you have the more stuff you store in all those containers and closet and the more time you have to work on a project the more time it takes to get it done. More isn’t always better, sometimes more is just more. Have you ever procrastinated when you knew you had to accomplish a particular task that day only to wait until the very last 30 minutes of the day to get it done. What if you had started the day by using the first 30 minutes to focus on that project and then had the rest of the day to complete a few more tasks and then since all your work that you assigned for the day was complete you could take the rest of the day off? Wouldn’t the reward be worth the effort?
Personal Productivity Tip 6: Stage the night before. By prepping your briefcase, kid’s backpacks, packing lunches, laying out clothes and getting gas the night before you set the stage for a stress free morning. And starting the day right can set a positive trend for the whole day. A few minutes at night are easy to come by but a few minutes extra in the morning can mean the difference between being late for work and being on time. Even a few minutes late is LATE and it doesn’t send a good message to your co-workers, boss, or even friends you meet for social outings. If you find yourself excusing it by saying “it’s only a few minutes” realize those few minutes can have a large cost when you are not perceived as caring about your job or other people’s time. The party on the other side may be thinking “why can’t you just leave a few minutes earlier so you aren’t always running late?”
Personal Productivity Tip 7: Institute the Family 15: Learn to delegate and get everyone in the home or office to pitch in and put things away. Set a timer and spend 15 minutes before heading off to bed to pick up everything from the living room, dining room, kitchen counters, etc that belongs in other rooms and return them to their proper home. Spending a few minutes each day helps to prevent major piles that will require a complete Saturday to clean up.
Personal Productivity Tip 8: Limit internet and TV time. Does watching 4 hours of TV a night really contribute to your life? Don’t get me wrong, TV can provide entertainment and relaxation as it doesn’t require much thought but don’t let it stand in the way of achieving your goals. Surfing the internet or getting lost in a sea of emails can be a huge time waster as well. If you’ve ever said “If only I had the time!” chances are you do but you need to spend it more wisely. Keep a journal for one week and track how you spend your time. This will help you identify your time wasters and help you make a conscious decision to change these limiting habits and instill new ones that help you achieve all you want in life.
Personal Productivity Tip 9: Learn to make decisions quickly. Think of piles as delayed decisions. Whether it is piles of paper or piles of stuff, the pile was created by the failure to decide what to do with it and/or the failure to act on the decision. Have you ever picked up your mail and glanced through it on the way into the house, identifying many items as “junk mail” yet added all of it to the already large pile on your desk or counter to deal with later. These delayed decisions and actions create more work for you later. Next time you get your mail, sort it immediately. 3 types of items: action items, reference items and recyclable items (a.k.a. trash). Immediately put the recycling in a recycling bin and don’t allow marketers to add tasks to your already overloaded To Do list. If you weren’t actively seeking the item that is now on sale be critical on whether you really need to make a special trip to get something that you will only need to find a place to store once you bring it home. Chances are you don’t really need it. Reference items should only be kept if you really feel the need to refer to them at another time and if so you should file it immediately. If you are going to go through the trouble of keeping it make sure you know where to find it when you need it. The action items should be given priority and processed during your daily evening planning session. Consider creating a tickler system and adding items to your calendar/planner for completion.
Personal Productivity Tip 10: Don’t be an info junkie. More information doesn’t necessarily change your life for the better. Do you ever save magazines, newsletters, etc. and yet 6 months later never read a single issue? Yet you keep them because you have the best of intentions to get to them as you feel that there will be some inspirational story or tidbit of info that you just don’t want to miss out on. Do you read tips on subjects you are interested in improving in your life only to fail to take action on the advice given? Let the old magazines and journals go and start fresh.
Only through action do we change our lives. If you want to experience Personal Productivity start by changing some of your limiting habits and build new ones which will guide you towards a more fulfilling life. Start small and build on your success. Our challenge to you, pick one of the Personal Productivity Tips presented to you in this article and institute it as a new habit in your life today!
Dhawn Hansen is a highly sought after business productivity and efficiency specialist and is often quoted on TV, radio and in print. Hansen is a consultant, author and speaker based in Raleigh, NC. Organized For Productivity was founded on the belief that improving the personal productivity of business owners, executives and high performers can directly correspond to improved efficiency, productivity and profitability for the companies they own and work for and at the same time improve the lives of the individuals. Visit her website at [http://www.OrganizedForProductivity.com] for more information or to book your FREE 15 minute Productivity & Efficiency Assessment. After all, how you spend your time is how you spend your life; make it productive and profitable.