Productivity Without the Stress Please
A quick Google search for “productivity tips” yields approximately 17 million results.
“Seventeen million. “
Clearly, productivity is something that’s on all of our minds. But with that vast array of results, where do you start? How do you make a dent in your own organization and productivity needs? Let’s take a look at three areas to focus on when increasing your productivity.
Whether you still rock the old school paper planner (there’s just something about tangibly writing an appointment down) or you’ve gone digital, use your calendar. Use whatever planning/calendar system is easiest for you and stick with it.
Planning out your schedule makes you aware of how much time your activities and appointments really take, helping you to view your schedule realistically. If you keep it all in your head, it’s easier to think that you can just “do it all” and over-schedule yourself.
Being over-scheduled doesn’t mean you’re more productive, it just probably means that you are doing a lot of things not very well. Not to mention the stress it can cause.
It’s also easy to forget meetings and interviews if you don’t record them somewhere immediately after scheduling them. You may think, “I’ll write it down in just a moment,” but a moment turns into three days later, and now you’re trying to remember what time that appointment was. This wastes time and sabotages productivity.
Take your scheduling one step further, and take advantage of sharing calendars via Google or other apps. Among many things, it enhances productivity and can even be a relationship saver between you and your spouse, or you and your family.
If you have more than your own schedule to keep up with it, start sharing calendars as soon as possible. This helps to eliminate the “Yes, I did tell you about that business trip,” or “I told you Bobby had a game tonight,” conversations that so often turn into conflicts.
Eliminate this unnecessary stress, and put those events that affect the whole family (trips, games, meetings) on the calendar as soon as they’re scheduled.
It also helps in an office setting so everyone knows who’s going to be in the office and when. Set up a calendar (Google or Outlook are common choices) and let people add out-of-the-office meetings and personal appointments. This avoids an afternoon when all but one person is out of the office, leaving them to manage the phones, get their own work done and somehow eat their own lunch.
The to-do list. We love it. We hate it. We can’t live without it, but often act like we can. Much like appointments, we go through our day thinking we’ll jot down those tasks “later.” “Later” often turns out to be late at night when you’re trying to sleep and you suddenly remember every single one of those tasks.
Crazy how that works, right? Eliminate this stress by using a simple but effective streamlined system. That’s one of the traps we can get caught up in: thinking our organization has to be fancy, but really, it just has to work for you. The simpler and less steps it takes to work the system, the more likely you are to actually use it.
One app that’s a great tool for managing multiple lists (and can be shared with family members or coworkers) is the Todoist app. It’s easy to create a list for different projects and as you complete tasks, you earn points.
And who doesn’t want to be earning points as you vacuum and go to the grocery store? You can set up recurring tasks and share certain lists with other people. The one downside to using it for a grocery list is that it won’t save commonly typed items, like other grocery list apps will.
If you’re the type to have random scraps of paper all over your desk and home with reminders and lists, make a new habit and store everything in one place. Even if you choose to not use an app, your sanity will thank you for keeping your lists in one place.
Being productive is about so much more than just emptying your inbox or cleaning your home. Productivity is also accomplishing those things that move you closer to your goals and passions.
Perhaps what’s needed in your life are simple weekly and daily goals that help keep you balanced and moving toward your dreams. Maybe that’s learning another language, exercising, or getting together with friends.
Set aside some time to identify what those type of goals might be in your own life. By consciously working these items into your schedule, you’ll find yourself at the end of the week far more satisfied and energized.
Remember, the key is to write them down, not just hold them in your head. It’s not enough to just hold them there.
Whichever method you decide to implement, just remember to keep it simple. Simple is almost always better. Simple is the starting place for productivity, and keeping stress at bay.