As one EntrepreNerd has told me time and time again, “what we are learning here about business is applicable to life in general.” Maximizing your productivity can be a way of life. It does not have to be about work. In fact, it is best to integrate your life into the process, treat yourself as a whole person.
You are more than just your work, your idea, and your business.
To make productivity a way of life, it helps to clarify the dream you are working towards, understand what’s important and experiment with different solutions that help you get closer to your unique vision for success.
What are your Most Important Things (MIT’s) in work and in life?
When do you feel at your best?
What kind of output do you expect from yourself in order to be productive?
What’s Your Ideal Day?
The very first exercise in Your Best Just Got Better has readers describe what their ideal day looks like. There is no right or wrong answer here. As you reflect on this for yourself, let go of those things you feel you should do because, “the most successful people” do it. And focus on what would be an ideal day for you!
Jason Womack encourages taking out your journal or a piece of paper and writing “Ideal Day” on the top. Now or later, describe what your ideal day looks like. How does your day start? What kinds of things happen in your ideal day? Who are you with? What are you doing? How are you feeling?
I have done this exercise a number of times for myself and it is always a little challenging. But also really interesting. Visualization is a proven technique for manifesting, seeing it and describing it help you to make it so. It is telling to see the parts of your day you call out. Where do you speak with specificity?
My ideal days always seem to include eating good food, getting exercise, celebrating a small-win and enjoying time with my family. I usually incorporate some specific accomplishments into my description. I talk about how my business is operating, the tasks I am doing and the things I am delegating to other people on my team.
It is also interesting to consider things that make up ideal days in retrospect. Look back on the types of moments you would like more of throughout your day. Capture that and contemplate ways to incorporate it more into your life. Or pause when you are in a moment that is your ideal day and breathe it in.
Identify Your MIT’s So That…
We wear being busy like a badge of honor. Seriously, go to a networking event and pay attention to how many people respond, “Busy” when you ask how they’re doing! You can be busy and not get any important stuff done. Staying busy is easy, doing meaningful work is not.
If maximizing your productivity is a matter of making better choices than you need a way to prioritize how to use your time, focus and energy. The ideal day helps you to understand some pieces of what you are working towards. Identifying your MIT’s (Most Important Thing’s) is another great exercise for gaining clarity about what it will take for your journey to be meaningful.
Getting started is easy. Again, take out your journal or a piece of paper and write at the top “My MIT’s”. Now or later brainstorm a list of everything that is important to you. Include anything you feel an obligation to. Relationships, projects, hobbies, jobs, challenges, opportunities are all fair game.
After you brainstorm a list of your MIT’s dig deeper to understand why these things are so important and you will begin to see your true priorities. Turn each MIT into a So That sentence, “I am doing/working on (MIT) so that…” And do 3-5 So That statements for each MIT.
As you dig deeper with your So That’s you will start to see why things are truly important to you. Review and update your list to identify your top 3-5 MIT’s. Keep that list readily available to reference, write it on your mirror with a dry erase marker or commit it to memory. Evaluate choices you are making throughout the day to see how they align with your MIT’s.
5 Day Experiments
There are a gazillion productivity tricks out there. And just because something works for someone else does not mean it will work for you. Making declarations like, “I am going to stop checking my email before 10am” can lead to disappointment as the followthrough is unlikely to occur. Instead of going all in on a solution that may or may not work for you, try it out. Do an experiment.
For 5 days experiment with not checking your email before 10am. Then see what happens. I have done 5 day experiments for all kinds of things. Some examples of productivity experiments I have conducted include: setting a 15 minute timer for tasks, tracking my time, changing my morning routine, only checking my email 2x/day, planning my Big 5, and than some. Five day experiments are a more manageable and iterative way to maximize your productivity.
Somethings you experiment with you will keep doing. Other experiments you will not. Either way you will gain empowering new insights about how to improve your productivity and work flow. And the things that do work are easier to stick with, after all you have already done it for 5 days. Reflecting on past accomplishments help us persevere with present challenges.
Data collecting experiments are particularly eye opening for a number of reasons. One reason is that the act of documenting information makes you more aware. When I tracked my time I would choose to spend it differently because I did not want to see I had spent fifteen minutes on Facebook, for example. Another reason data collection experiments are insightful is because we typically remember things differently than how they occur.
Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More by Jason Womack
The most comprehensive guide about personal productivity, Womack advises readers that the key to efficiency is understanding and improving how you use your four limited resources: Time, Energy, Focus and Tools. Womack’s book is chocked full of valuable recommendations and practices, should you chose to try even just one, it is bound to make an immediate and positive impact in your business and your life.