Developing a productivity mindset is something I continue to work at, because I have big goals and dreams and no time to waste, but I have to say, this does not come naturally to me. However, I have made vast improvements in this area thanks to a few practices I adopted in the last year.
Before I share my tips on how to improve your productivity mindset, allow me to share a little back story: I am a yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner and have been for close to two decades. I have never worked in an office or any job that required me to be there for the entire day. I like change, surprises and variety.I am by nature more of a day dreamer than a planner. I am easily distracted. I love to multi-task and I detest scheduling and planning. I have the tendency to be messy and disorganized. I often misplace things and forget about appointments.
In the last few years, I started to want more and to be more, not just because I became a mom, but also because I feel I got fed up of waiting. I knew I needed to change my mindset, my work and my how I use my time so I could become to be more efficient. After all, although I deeply enjoy my work, I also love to travel and spend with my friends and family. I am one of those people who wants to have both abundance and time freedom. Good news is I am willing to work for it and protect it.
Tips to improve your productivity mindset
Know why – Knowing exactly why I need to get certain things done, I appreciate that I have choice to be productive and to focus my energy for a certain amount of time. For example, I never ‘vacation’. We travel often (in fact, I am writing this on the eve of a trip to Scotland, somewhere I’ve always dreams of going) and make time to eat well, work, exercise and do something fun everyday. I work so that I have the freedom to explore and discover and hang out with my family;
Routine – Creating simple pleasurable routines for things I do daily like waking up, preparing healthy meals, exercising and sleep allows me to conserve energy for more important tasks and decisions. Best suggestion here to amp up productivity is to set things up the night before (ie don’t leave the kitchen messy and put out the things I need for the morning) and make your mornings enjoyable as they set you up for the day: meditate, yoga, easy breakfasts (for me, an Arbonne protein shake; for Koji, gluten-free pancakes I make in a big batch, freeze and then pop in the toaster; for Arturo, Greens, coffee and early lunch);
Set up properly – I used to sit wherever to work, now I prefer find inspiring locations and set up nicely, making sure I have all the things I need close by including tea, a snack, my computer, charger, phone and a bunch of note books. I love my desk at home, but I also love cozy coffee shops and hotel lobby’s to work in as well;
Work in sessions – I work in sessions of time. Morning sessions (when possible while Koji is playing or if I have a babysitter), afternoon session (when Koji is napping) and sometimes an evening after Koji goes to sleep;
Brain Dump – Do you ever open your computer with the anxiety that you have so much to do and have no idea where to start? Me too. All the time! But I learned a trick through a coaching course I did with Brandon Barber, which helps a lot: I now do a “brain dump” before I start a work session. I write down everything I need to do as it comes to mind. Sometimes, I keep my notebook beside me when I am meditating, as often ‘to do’ reminders pop up in my head when I am trying to meditate;
Prioritize tasks – What are the the things that I, and only I, have to do today in order to feel fulfilled and to move my business(es) forward? Brandon Barber says then we must delegate as many of the other tasks as possible.
Delegation – Speaking of delegating, this is massively important. Do you really, really have to personally do everything of your to do list? Can anyone help you? Can you hire someone to support you and thus concentrate your productivity in another area like in your work or in nutureing your child and other important relationships? For example, unless you love mopping floors and have an abundance of time, I highly recommend finding a cleaning service to clean your house;
Clean home & Office – Keeping my space (at home and work) clean, organized and simple (uncluttered) is something that recently changed my life completely and enhanced my productivity ten-fold. I know where things are easily and I am not wasting as much time choosing what to wear or pack (because I have a quarter of the clothes I had before) and know where to find and put things means I don’t waste as much time searching. I read the Life Changing Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and I highly recommend it. I also worked with decluttering specialist Lori Craig of Love it or Leave it and hired Angie Pelletier, professional organizer at Centre IAM for my office and computer. What piece of mind I have knowing where I have what!
Limit your distractions – We get distracted all the time and sometimes this is on purpose just to procrastinate. Brandon Barber, the coach I just referenced earlier, writes: “Did you know that the average person gets 1 interruption every 8 minutes That’s 7 interruptions in an hour. 50-60 per day. The average interruption takes 5 minutes, totalling about 4 hours or 50% of the average workday! What’s worse? 80% of those interruptions are typically rated as “little value” or “no value” creating approximately 3 hours of wasted time per day!” Eeek. Just know this makes me more aware of my tendency to loose focus. Keeping my phone on silent during work sessions also helps;
Get the big stuff done early in day – When I tick off the big items on my list early in the day or in the week, I feel amazing and motivated to do more. It’s the best feeling. But if I try to ‘just get a few little things out of the way first and then tackle the big item,’ I almost always lose the motivation to get to that big thing and it doesn’t get done… Read the book ‘Eat that Frog’ by Brian Tracy. It’s all about this;
Tying things up – Just before I close a work session, I ask myself: What can I tie up in 15-20 mins and /or complete before lunch? What can you do to improve my sense of accomplishment and fulfillment? And then I get into it;
Strive for Excellent over Perfect – Perfection is a limiting and confusing standard, because it is impossible to pinpoint what “perfect” is and just makes us/me feel very stressed and doesn’t always inspire productivity. Instead, (and this is also something I picked up working with the Brandon Barber team), strive for excellence and we have room to grow and flourish.
Lastly, as far as getting started goes, I highly recommend the book The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. It’s a game changer! Here’s a quote:
The 5 Second Rule The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must 5-4-3-2-1 and physically move or your brain will stop you. ― Mel Robbins,