by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: Each day, take one small step toward your goal.
Stay with me for a moment. Productivity techniques can help you live with intention.
When you hear the word productivity, you probably think that it’s all about doing more by working faster. Well, yes and no. Productivity, that land of lists, tickler files, and timers, can help you work with intention on the things most important to you.
You’ve probably crawled into bed on more than a few nights and wondered what you did all day. You know you were busy, but at the end of the day, none of it really seemed important. Too many days like that and you might start wondering about your purpose in life – is it about running to the grocery store, doing laundry, answering emails, sitting in meetings, photocopying reports, and emptying the dishwasher, again?
I think when we declutter our homes or otherwise try to simplify our lives, it’s because we want more meaning to our days. We create a vision for our life as well as our home. We want a more peaceful relationship with our partner and so we ban the kids’ toys and the treadmill from the bedroom. We want to expand our relationship with friends and family, so we clear the dining room and living room, creating space to entertain.
By being productive, we are doing things on purpose. When we consider why we are doing something, we are building our motivation. When faced with two activities, one that helps us to achieve our vision for our life versus an entertaining distraction, we have a better incentive for doing the more difficult, more meaningful task.
Five Tips to Help You Be More Purposeful
The tips below may seem like nothing earth-shattering; but, here’s my question to you – Do you do these things? I know that too often I don’t.
Make Time. The tips listed below will only work if you take the time to do them. Although we think we’ll find time and squeeze it in, putting a task on our calendar creates a higher likelihood that we’ll actually do it.
Write It Down. I know, this sounds so simple, write writing things down helps us clarify our thoughts. Write down all the thoughts about things you need to do at some point. Write down your goals. Write down what you’re grateful for. Record your progress on a project. Instead of keeping a vague thought rattling around in your mind, writing it down makes it a bit more ‘real.’
Envision Each Step. A project involves multiple steps and, usually, a deadline. Make a list of all the things you need to do to accomplish something. Do you need to make phone calls? Have meetings? Look up something online? Clear the bed in the guest bedroom?
Reflect on What You've Accomplished. At the beginning or end of each day, week, month, and year, review what you want to accomplish during that time. Reflect on your progress. This allows you to monitor if you are doing the things that you want to do and you’re keeping tabs on whether these things are important or not.
Make Course Corrections. You know how you broke your project down into multiple steps? You know how you’ve been reviewing what you’ve accomplished each day-week-month? You do this so that you can make course corrections. Let’s say you want to lose 50 pounds in a year. You know that by June you should have lost 25 pounds and by March 12 or 13 pounds. If it’s March and you’ve lost five pounds, you know you are off course. Chances are, if you were reviewing your progress each week, you would've realized well before March that you weren’t losing the pound a week you needed so to accomplish your goal.
Although these are simple tips, do you do all of them? While you may be in the habit of writing things down, maybe even breaking some projects into manageable steps, do you take the time to reflect on your progress and make course corrections? If you do, you won’t discover you’ve been busily unproductive.
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Susan, chief (and only) organized squirrel at A Less Cluttered Life, pursues learning, practicing, and sharing information about the everyday habits that can lead to living a better life.