I read a lot of blogs and magazines to get an idea of what interests readers out there so that I can address it in Live Bold and Bloom.
I really want to write about relevant personal growth topics that interest my readers, and it appears that productivity is one of those hot topics.
I've read about it everywhere, and as you can see, I have a blog post category entirely devoted to the subject. People want to know more effective, resourceful and profitable ways of getting things done.
They want to know how to get more done in less time while making lots of money.
In our society, we certainly equate success with high achievement, long work hours, beautiful things and lots of money. Does that define success for you?
It used to for me, but I don't think it does anymore.
My definition of success has morphed over the years, so I am compelled to add a disclaimer here.
The productivity strategies that I outline below are based on my new vision of success.
Financial success doesn't stink, and it certainly allows one to buy and do many spectacular things. I have met and read about many wealthy people who do great things with their money for themselves and others. They are fine people who haven't let money and the pursuit of it completely define who they are.
But at some point, I think the relentless pursuit of money and the things money can buy becomes very unproductive.
There is a diminishing point of return. If we want to be productive in order to make more money, and we want to make money to find security and happiness, then by definition productivity must lead to security and happiness, right?
But truthfully, how much money and stuff do we really have time to enjoy? We spend most of our time working and sleeping which leaves us only a few hours a day to enjoy the fruits of our labors. I don't know about you, but I can't enjoy anything if I'm rushed through it or thinking about the next thing I should be enjoying or buying.
If you become more productive, which by definition means that you are producing more, then you have more to manage and take care of and worry about. I don't want to spend much of my free time worrying about my stuff or my money.
I firmly believe that enjoyment and pleasure in life comes from being able to relax and savor the moment, whatever the moment happens to be.
I've spent too many days thinking about what comes next, what might be better or more fun than what I am doing right now. Do you see yourself doing this?
If so, I'd like to invite you to consider my new definition of success.
Success means having and doing just enough of the things and activities you love and enjoying them thoroughly and with intensity and without distraction.
If you feel this post has been a bait and switch, I promise I do have three great productivity strategies for you. I just want us to be on the same page when I present them to you.
My definition of success is not the standard in our society. So I guess my definition of productivity isn't either. To me, being productive means getting the important things done well without anxiety.
This view involves two shifts in thinking. First, everything is not equally important, and secondly, the world will not end if everything isn't done today. There always will be more to do.
If you agree with my premise, then I humbly offer these strategies for increased productivity:
1. Do fewer things. Whether at work or in your personal life, you will always have more to do than you possibly have time to accomplish.
- Start your day by writing down everything you think needs to be done.
- Determine an amount of time for completion of each item on your list.
- Add a twenty minute cushion to each item.
- Pick four items, two for the morning and two for the afternoon that seem the most important to you. Let the rest go for today.
- If you absolutely can't let some of them wait, delegate these items to other people.
- If you have extra time at the end of the day, then go back work on one more item.
2. Focus on the task at hand. Make the item you are working on be your primary focus of the moment.
- Remove all possible distractions. Clear your desk. Turn off your phone and close your office door. Ask not to be disturbed.
- Set a time limit for working on this item based on your estimate when you wrote your morning list. If it's possible to set a timer, then do that so you won't be distracted by looking at the time.
- Do your best work on this particular item. If your mind starts to wander to other tasks or your e-mail or any other distraction, gently force yourself to re-focus on the task at hand.
3. Accept this fundamental truth: life is a series of “right nows”.
- Whatever it is you are seeking in the future doesn't exist. The future is just a series of the same right now that you are experiencing right now. Real life is one present moment.
- Any time that you don't spend focused on the task at hand is time you have wasted.
- Choose your right nows carefully because they are the stuff and substance of your entire life.
- Consciously change your perspective about right now even if it doesn't seem perfect. It is perfect. It is only your perspective that is imperfect. Correct your perspective, choose to see the good in the moment, and the moment will be perfect.
I know some of these ideas seem cool to think about but maybe not realistic for your particular life. Cutting back, simplifying your schedule, focusing on one thing at a time mindfully and without distraction is great for people who aren't busy and responsible.
I submit that if you truly want to be more productive, don't strive to do more in less time. Do less in more time.
Do it with focus and passion and joy. When you are free from anxiety and stress, when your mind is clear and focused, when you are doing one important thing at a time, you will be successful beyond your wildest dreams.