How To Be More Productive
I hope you’re keeping well, warm and dry!
I know that the weather has been pretty nasty in different parts of the world. Here in Britain it’s been cold along with lots of rain, flooding and high winds. Some parts of England and Wales have been hit quite hard. I know that parts of the US have been hit with some severe cold and snow too. So, whatever part of the world you’re reading this from, I hope you’re doing okay!
So then, on to today’s topic – productivity. Specifically, how to be more productive. Of course, this is something that we all want, right? However, it’s something that all too often eludes us, or perhaps we don’t achieve the levels of productivity that we’d like.
So the big question is, how can we be more productive?
I’ll be open and honest with you and confess that this is something I’ve been struggling with. It’s not that I’ve not known what I should be doing, it’s just that I haven’t been doing it well enough! Sure, I’ve been getting along with stuff and have been quite successful with most of what I’ve been doing. But I have to be honest and say that I could and, indeed, should have been doing a heck of a lot more. So I decided that I really need to give myself a kick up the backside and work harder.
Now, I’ll just insert a brief disclaimer here and emphasise that this isn’t a magical solution or something that I claim to be an expert in. As I said above, I’ve been struggling a little with this, so I’m definitely not an expert! But what I’m about to share with you is a technique that’s based on something I learned from Alex Jeffreys that I’ve been implementing for the last couple of days and found to be of benefit already.
Write It Down!
This is one thing that I have actually been doing consistently. Right from the very beginning I’ve always written stuff down, whether it be ideas, tips I’ve picked up from other Marketers, helpful resources, etc. In whatever format it’s been, I’ve always noted things down – on paper, in .txt or .doc files, with browser bookmarks, using Evernote, mindmaps, jotting down something in a temporary text message on my phone and so on.
Keeping a note of things is absolutely vital and if you don’t do it already, you really need to be doing it. I wouldn’t say that there’s a right or wrong way to do it, just so long as you do it somehow. Find a way that works for you and stick with it.
This leads us on to the next point, which is the key aspect that I’ve been strictly implementing…
Have a Plan
Having a plan should form the basis for everything that you do. Without it, it’s like knowing that you want to reach a particular destination but not having a clue as to how you’ll get there or even what direction you’ll head in.
What I’m about to share with you takes this aspect a step further. What it involves is actually spending a few minutes at the end of each day to plan out what you intend to do the following day. Why is this important? Consider the following scenario (and yes, I speak from experience!):
You set your alarm clock for 8:00 A.M. It’s a little cold outside of your comfy, warm bed, so you hit snooze and tell yourself, “Just ten more minutes…” At 10:30 A.M. you decide to roll out of bed.
You wander downstairs, make yourself some breakfast and a hot drink and settle down to watch a bit of TV or listen to the radio. At around 11:15 you figure that it’s about time you switched on your computer. So you do so and first things first, you decide to check your e-mail. Ooo, a new WSO, that sounds interesting…. Off to the Warrior Forum you go….
After buying yet another product that you neither planned to buy, probably didn’t really need and certainly wouldn’t have missed if you hadn’t known anything about it, you decide to check Facebook to see if there’s anything of interest happening in the Internet marketing world. In your newsfeed you’re greeted by an image of the cutest kitten doing something funny, accompanied by a hilarious caption. You know someone who will appreciate that, so you decide that you absolutely have to share it with them. Hmm, thinking of pictures, you haven’t checked your Instagram feed yet…
At 12:15 P.M. you decide that you really should do some work. Okay, what to do? Hmm, is there a course you bought a few months ago that you haven’t gone through yet? There’s probably something that would be really useful. As you wade through the hundreds of plugins, courses, reports, videos and so on that you don’t even remember getting, let alone actually using, you get distracted by a piece of software that you really should try to learn how to use. After all, it could come in handy for when you end up doing that… what was it you were planning to do…? Oh well, you’re sure it’ll come in handy eventually…
After an hour or so of fiddling with the software you get a bit bored and feel that you need a break. So off you go to make a cup of coffee…
When you do finally sit down at your computer again to do some ‘work’ you still aren’t any the wiser as to what you’re actually meant to be doing. Actually, you’re feeling a little hungry. It’ll be time for lunch shortly….
Does this sound familiar? In the above scenario you could well have been ‘working’ for two or three hours without actually doing anything, certainly without doing anything that’s going to directly contribute towards you making any money! This is why it’s important to have a specific plan of action. Plus, writing down your intentions each day and then reviewing them at the end of each day is a great way to hold yourself accountable.
You don’t want to be wasting a full day being a ‘busy fool’, being busy doing lots of things yet accomplishing hardly anything. If you take the time out at the end of each day to plan out your activities for the following day then you’ll know exactly what you’ll be doing, when, for how long and why.
How I’ve Been Doing It
I’ve created a very simple template that contains four columns titled, “Task”, “Time”, “Accomplished” and “Notes”.
- Task – This column is where I write the task that I wish to perform.
- Time – In here I allocate my intended maximum time for the given task. For example, if I know that I have five hours that I can spend working then maybe I’ll schedule one hour to writing a blog post, one hour to blog-hopping, one hour to forum commenting, one hour to product creation and one hour to social media marketing. That’s a lot that can be accomplished in that five hour period, but without the schedule I could easily spend five hours tinkering with this and that, then checking e-mails, then checking Facebook, then getting distracted by something I see on YouTube and so on.
- Accomplished – This is a small column to indicate simply “Yes” or “No”. In other words, did I accomplish my task as planned?
- Notes – This is basically for me to write down anything of relevance to do with the task. So, if I didn’t complete a task or complete it to my satisfaction, I will write the reasons in here and anything that I feel could be of use to avoid my failing to complete it satisfactorily next time. Likewise, if I have completed a task then I can use this area to write down ways in which I could improve or further ideas I could implement
But how do I choose what specifically I am going to be working on? Well, here is where it’s important to prioritise. For example, I may have some training material that will help me in a given area. I also may be in the process of creating a product that I can give away and further build my list. Which of the two is more likely to directly relate to me making money? Yes, the training may end up being profitable, however the product creation and list building is something that I can implement now. So that will be given priority.
So, once I have established which tasks I feel are most important, these are marked with an asterisk (*) and will be tackled first. Anything else that can wait will be left til last and, if there’s time, will be tackled later on. It won’t matter if these things don’t get done on the day.
At the end of the day I go over my sheet and reflect on what I did/didn’t accomplish. If there’s anything I didn’t do then I think about what I can do the following day to ensure that it gets done.
So that’s basically it for now. I’m sure that I can improve upon this technique and I will definitely have to refresh myself as to Alex’s suggestions regarding this approach. But for now, it’s been serving me very well and I’ve certainly been getting more done and been more disciplined.
I hope that this has maybe been a little helpful to you. I’d be very interested to know of any techniques that you have for being more productive, so please feel free to share them in the comments area below.
Until next time,
Glenn “Being More Productive” Shepherd
P.S. Don’t forget to share and ‘Einstein’! 😉