Sometimes it appears as though only those ‘destined’ for success are the only ones among us who ever truly accomplish their goals. We all know the type: those who always have things done perfectly and nearly always ahead of time, all while we’re still scrambling to figure out how to start. You may even feel as though ‘productivity’ is mere fantasy, terminology created in the world of business to help measure the bottom line and get their workers churning out more, quickly and without mistakes.
Productivity, however, is far more than you realize (it’s deep, man!) When you’re productive, you are actually living the distinction between being a spectator on the sidelines of your own life vs. jumping in and making things happen! If you never rise up from off of your behind, you’ll never live your goals, will you? You think that a world where you can get everything done that you’ve set out to do is just some far-fetched dreamland? Think again! We are all endowed with the ability to truly engage ourselves in order to get the right things done – things that will put us in the direct path of our dreams (the beginning of the first one submitted is part of this last paragraph). All it takes is the right mindset and energy directed toward a few great tips and tricks! This brings us to the tips and tricks part! Below you’ll find Seven Principles of Productivity to aid you on your quest to maximizing your ‘self’, and rising to the occasion!
1. Break the cycle of inactivity. The biggest reason that projects are never brought to completion is because…. we aren’t getting off our behinds! Who would have thought it? If you are in a pattern of inactivity, passivity and/or procrastination, deadlines will pass by, opportunities begin knocking somewhere else, and we’re still in the same spot we were when we began wondering if we should get on that project or not. Whether you’re getting bogged down in the preparation process, spending more time talking and dreaming rather than doing, or just plain old being a lazy bum, you must begin challenging yourself to be an active participant in your life. The very moment you act, you start to finish. Don’t talk, dream, or chill – DO!
2. Start small. How do you feel when you stare down a huge project? Typically, you wind up thinking, “man, this is over my head… I don’t see how I can spend that much time and energy doing one thing. Maybe some other, easier opportunity will come my way and I’ll still achieve my goals a different way.” Guess what? Things don’t work that way. To earn anything worthwhile, you cannot get around the fact that you’ll need to put in a lot of effort. So, instead of fretting over the mountain, fix your gaze on the next highest ledge, hoist yourself up, and keep going – that is, create a list of small, immediately attainable goals that will gradually lift you higher and higher toward your finish line. Smaller tasks are so much easier, and we often forget that all the larger goals are is a collection of smaller ones.
3. Screw up. A LOT. The best way to learn the right way to do anything is to have stumbled through and learned all the wrong ways. No one is keeping score, so it isn’t necessary to beat yourself up if you didn’t get something right the first time. We must fall before learning to stand – observe an infant learning to walk for the first time. They have no problem with falling, over and over again. Eventually, those bruised up knees will permanently stand a few inches off of the floor once they learn to walk! Feeling as though we need to master everything on the first try is a MAJOR barrier to achievement. Stop feeling blue over your trials and errors; get up, think to yourself, “ok, lesson learned”, and try something else. Sooner or later, you’ll have all the ins and outs down and you’ll be unstoppable!
4. Create ordered task lists. If you don’t set up benchmarks to help you actualize what you’re aiming for, how will you know when you’re gaining any ground? In addition to thinking small, it’s always a good idea to give yourself a specified goal that you can put behind you within a specific timeline. For example, you can decide you’d like to, “learn five new American Sign Language letters by the end of the day”. Simple, and totally doable is the way to go, you can get it done and it feels great to be that much closer to your goals! Don’t stress yourself out with enormous day-to-day goals, or you could risk burnout.
5. Be consistent. Incorporating your goals into your daily routine is like dynamite – because it explodes your output exponentially! If you study your materials for just 30 minutes per day for a year, you’ll have spent 10,800 minutes doing this – which turns out to be multiple days. This will also allow you to keep your momentum going. Don’t feel like you can’t get anything done just because you can’t spend hours doing it. Meeting goals head-on as often as possible is much more important than how much time you spend when you do. Routines often get a bad rap as fun-killers, boring repetitions, etc. – but, in fact, routine is the very foundation of success. Do it your own way and it doesn’t have to suck!
6. Learn to pass. Ever heard of ‘Burning the candle at both ends”? Getting into the habit of saying yes to every opportunity that passes by is one that will truly become a detriment to your progress. You have a finite supply of time and energy, and although you certainly need to set time aside to have fun, relax, visit with friends, etc., be sure that this time isn’t impeding on the time that you’ll need to make the incremental progress that you have planned for yourself. Sometimes making the grade you’ll need to get to the next level means passing up on things that appeal very much to you, but just think! Once you’ve met your goals, there will be plenty more time to sit back and enjoy life – likely with much more resources with which to do them!
7. Know that hard and fast rules can be broken – even those you’re reading now! Tips and tricks are only as good as the success they bring you. If something doesn’t work for you, tweak it, reformat it, or leave it behind totally… if reaching that next step is impossible in the current state of your affairs, try something else. Your trials and errors will soon teach you which moves work for you and which ones should be dropped. Of course, don’t take this to mean that you can throw progress out the window to opt for inactivity – do what works best for you, but always be sure to do something! Inactivity will find you falling behind, and fast. Get familiar with your routine, and keep moving!