YOU know the drill — at the start of the new year you'll get a journal and a nice gel ink pen, decorate the journal, and make plans to use it to guide your journey in the months going forward, the way you've seen organised people do.
Or you plan to make a vision board because you've heard that that helps, and you go as far as to buy the supplies at the book shop, and do the cutouts to make your vision reality.
But being a productive person is not about following whatever blueprint you think others you admire are following, it involves a whole mindset change for it to be part of your life. And, if there's not that mindset change, life coach Marina Drumblair said, then you will crash and burn early on in your journey.
“There are, in fact, simple ways that you can become more productive without altering your personality too much — the trick is to work with what you have, not mould yourself into someone's else's story,” she said.
“That's the mistake a lot of us make — we think that because she does it, and does it so well, or appears to do it well, all we'll need is the construction paper, scissors, glitter, and glue and our results will be the same. But that's the first mistake.”
Drumblair directs that you don't have to return that journal you bought or those craft supplies you invested in, “but before you start cutting and pasting, you need to take some simple steps to ensure you're ready for the task ahead”.
Identify your goals
What exactly do you want to achieve this month or this year? Identify that goal, and then the steps you will take to get there. “Don't do more than one at a time, but have a set, realistic goal because that goal will help you focus,” Drumblair said. “This will act like the map that you need to start your journey, and then you will need to identify what you need to make that goal an actuality.”
Write it down
“The palest of ink is better than the best of memory. Seeing your goal and the steps to completion, in writing, will make it a more tangible thing, and you won't make missteps as you strive to complete the steps,” she said.
She said one of the mistakes people make is not making their goals into a road map that's achievable, and so they get frustrated when the steps get overwhelming.
Stick to a routine
“Successful people have a method to their madness — a routine that they stick to,” Drumblair said. “So set a time when you will wake up, exercise, get coffee, start working, and stick to that as much as you can. A routine helps you to feel in control of your life, and being in control is the first step to being productive.
Know your body
Some people are morning people, some people are late nighters, some people work better under pressure... you have to know what kind of person you are, so you can plan. “If you know that you can be at your best productivity at night, then there's little point in trying to push through the day, as you will only get frustrated and want to give up,” Drumblair said.
Do one thing at a time
“As you complete a project, tick it off the list then move on to the next one,” Drumblair said. “There's no point trying to be superwoman and getting half of one thing, a quarter of another, and then one-third of another done — that only breeds frustration,” she said. “Take things one at a time, and celebrate each win each time you complete it.”
You may think that you work better with music, or the TV on, but try working without them and see if your results change. “Fact is, these are called distractions for a reason — you'll never be able to concentrate fully on what you're doing with them on,” Drumblair said.
“If these distractions are pulling you away from the task, even subtlely, you have to cut them out. That might mean getting noise cancelling headphones, or turning off the TV or Netflix series while you work.”
Put the phone away
One of the biggest distractions and time wasters is our mobile devices, and in order to be productive, you will have to have set times for their use. Set specific periods when you will go phone free, and either put the device on silent or place it in another room. That way you won't feel compelled to check TikTok or Twitter every single minute to see what you're missing, and then be dragged down that dark hole of unproductivity.
Do periodic assessments
There's no point in setting a goal, putting in a lot of work towards it, and not assessing the work periodically as you go along. It's in assessing that you will step back and see what's already happening or working, what needs to change, what needs to be shifted, and get better clarity on where you're headed.
No one can do it all alone, something will have to give. Highly productive people know that they have to delegate — use people to do some of the tasks so they're not overwhelmed. So get household help, and even someone to do the grocery shopping, pay for those extra hours at daycare so you have more time for yourself, and give each person in your house their own tasks to do, so you're not being superwoman. Delegate the tasks that you hate to do, or are poor at, and watch how productive you will be in completing the tasks you're good at.