• Theo

How To Be Productive

Whether you run your own business, are planning to start one or even if you just have a million ideas bouncing around your head, you will want to use your time in the most productive manner. It’s easy to fall into procrastinating but that doesn’t get anything done. In this article, we are going to give you five steps to be productive.

Being productive means that you want to see results from whatever it is that you’re doing. The older we get, the bigger the projects seem and actually moving forward with it can be incredibly intimidating.

1. Make a list

Get those ideas out of your head and on to paper. Whatever it’s about, write it down. To start with, get an old notebook, a scrap piece of paper or even open up a word document and write down everything that you have to do.

In business, that may mean projects that need starting, orders that need fulfilling, or just general admin stuff. Even if it’s things you have to do regularly, write it down. Then you can move on to the creative project ideas you have. Perhaps launching a new product or service; maybe rebranding. When you’re in control of your own business, expansion falls to you. As you’re writing, try to generate new ideas of things that could help grow your business.

In your personal life, the same thing goes. Start by writing down the things you have to do, whether they are daily chores or things you need to plan for (like some kind of event). Then add to the list the things that you’d like to do. Perhaps you’d like to do a project around the house or you would like to start creating something that could potentially bring in some income.

This list isn’t likely to be neat to start with but you can organise it bit by bit. The main point of this step is to have everything out of your head and on paper. That gives you room to think and work.

2. Set clear goals

As mentioned earlier, being productive means that you want to see results. This is where goals come into play, especially with bigger projects. Say that you want to write a book. That’s the main goal, but you’d need to break it down. You could set your goal for having an outline of a book in two weeks and then a first draft in three months. You could have a goal of getting a literary agent or self-publishing. Setting this different goals will help you be more productive as you’re working towards something achievable.

With the smaller things in life, goals could be along the lines of: “I will finish catching up on emails by 10am” or “I will have finished all legislation documentation by the end of the week”. Goals are more to do with the times, but also act as a stepping stone to the main thing you’re trying to achieve.

3. Dedicate Time

The best way to start being productive is by being strict with yourself. Ideally, set some time aside in a day or even plan an entire day dedicated to working on a project or goal. Personally, setting aside specific hours in a day doesn’t work for me but I will stagger my to-do list throughout the week and dedicate one day to achieve a couple of things. Whenever I get a chance during the day, I start working on it. It just stops you accidentally having nothing to do, sitting around and only realising too late that you missed an opportunity.

4. Plan breaks

We can work for about 40 minutes before we need a break so when you’re busy being productive, make sure you plan some time to take a break from it. Again, we are all different so plan breaks in a way that works for you. In order for me to be the most productive I can, I will allow myself a break once I reach a certain point in the activity (I.e. a word count), rather than time. That keeps me focused whereas if it’s a time associated break, I’ll get lost in my thoughts and not do the work. Breaks should be 5-10 minutes so that you don’t lose track of the work but that you can get a drink, a snack or whatever and stretch your legs.

5. Set rewards

A big motivation for anyone is some kind of reward (usually financial). When it’s your own project though, you don’t normally get a reward. Theoretically, completing the project should be reward enough but it doesn’t normally work like that. Basically, find a way to treat yourself once reaching your goal. Get a takeout, watch a film, go out somewhere, whatever works for you! It’s to reward yourself after all.

Those are my five steps to being productive and hopefully they work for you to. Be sure to comment any additional tips. We all want to achieve our dreams, but it takes a lot of hard work to get there; work that only we can put in.

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