Becoming More Productive: The Basics

The Christmas festivities have past, and now we look forward to the new year. New year, new beginnings, right? Let’s start off the year early with a bit of prep on productivity.

When I was studying psychology in undergrad, one of the first things I learned was to define the terms. In research, and in life it turns out, it is so important to define your terms; If you aren’t clear on what you’re talking about, how can you study it, explain it, or, in this case, practice it? Before we can become more productive, we need to really define what productivity means to us.

The first thing most people associate productivity with is, “getting more done.” But as we often find in our lives, getting “more done” doesn’t equate to feeling accomplished. I, for one, feel much more accomplished when I get something I deem important done, rather than when I get alot done (like when I clean the bathroom, that in and of itself is a major accomplishment). Figuring out what are priorities are, is step one in becoming more productive.

Sometimes it turns out we have several priorities; I want to read daily, write daily, keep my house clean, make sure my dog gets enough exercise, cook daily, buy a house, pay off my debt, build wealth, get a Ph.D….the list goes on and on. They are all priorities, but how can I get them all done? We need to build a plan, even if it’s a loose one, to make sure we are working towards our goals, both the daily ones and the big picture one.

Does planning go against “living in the present?”

There’s a big difference between “living life day to day” and “living life without a plan.” It’s about intentionality. Just because you plan for the future, doesn’t mean you aren’t flexible, it just makes you have a plan. Plain and simple. Planning a head helps you keep your priorities top of mind, thus helping you stay focused and working towards the things that are important.

Voila…you are productive.

Not quite, but you’re getting there. Once you’ve 1. Established what’s important, and 2. Made a plan, now you are ready to be productive. But it doesn’t stop there…

Other tips

Educate yourself on different techniques and approaches to productivity. Books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Essentialism, have helps countless people become more productive and focus on what’s important. Make notes of what works and what doesn’t, adjust to new conditions, and continue to seek new knowledge.

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