If you look back on the last few days and analyze the things you did, how would you define your overall performance?

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Did you do most of the things on your to-do list? Were you efficient? Did you do focused work on important tasks or wasn’t that concentrated and most of them weren’t that meaningful? Did you waste time procrastinating and just doing nothing?

In other words, can you say these days were productive?

Often the answer is no. And that doesn’t mean you didn’t do your best. It just means you weren’t productive.

Productivity is to do all the important things that need to be done, to do them in little time and with focus.

You can cross everything on your to-do list but that can take days, while it’s planned for just one.
You can do them, but not properly, which will lead to bad results. You can be done eventually but realize that most of what you did was unnecessary.

To avoid these and other mistakes we need to hack productivity. To find loops in the system, to use efficient tools, to prioritize and be mindful of what we’re doing if we want a certain outcome.

Here are some ways, tips and strategies for becoming more productive with less effort.

1. Start your day early.

Waking up really early gives you the chance to do some work without distractions.

The morning itself is productive and this also helps you start your day this way. And a fresh start usually keeps you going until the evening.

Waking up early is not a daily habit of mine, but when I do it, I also do a morning routine, which helps me jumpstart my day and makes me feel great. Not to mention the results I achieve compared to those in the days I oversleep.

This is one of the so-called keystone habits Charles Duhigg writes about in his book “The Power of Habit”. Those are certain big habits that provoke a chain reaction and immediately make us change other behaviors of ours.

Waking up early is a good example.

For me it’s connected with a few minutes of meditation, a quick workout, a healthy breakfast, a fresh and positive start of the day, reading affirmations out loud in front of the mirror and reading or writing something inspirational.
Otherwise, I don’t do each of them often. Getting up early is what causes that routine. And it’s extremely productive.

2. The 2-minute rule.

If you have things on your to-do list (or even in your head – just random things you know you need to do at some point) that take a few minutes, do them right now.

If you leave them for ‘later’, you’ll probably carry them over for a few days, or more. Until they become a burden and you find yourself overloaded with little things to do.

Don’t wait for them to become urgent so that you get them done, do those that take little time immediately. That will save you a lot of stress and unwanted worries. Plus it’s a great starter for the bigger tasks.

3. Define the ‘why’ behind your action.

In his ebook “Master Your Time In 10 Minutes a Day“, Michal Stawicki writes about the importance of purpose.

He has tried many techniques and strategies connected with time management and productivity and has summarized those that worked best for him. He’s developed around 40 successful habits for a year and has multiplied his results.

Here is what he says about finding purpose and thus making your actions more focused and meaningful:

“One of the first steps I took in transforming my life was to formulate my personal mission statement. It took me over a month of writing and rewriting, but it was worth every second. I advise you to do the very same thing.”

“Define your life’s purpose and your path to success will become evident. I’ve done many different things, for many different reasons, but I found there is no motivation like that which came with the realization of my life’s purpose.”

“The action-oriented may see this step as a waste of time, but I assure you that action without contemplation is the true waste of time. Why? Because only sustained action brings lasting results. Without a purpose, sooner or later you will give up, even if you are, like me, extremely stubborn.”

4. Keep a detailed journal.

Another thing Michal has mastered is keeping a journal. The simple technique of just writing down everything you do has many benefits and can be powerful for gaining a better understanding of your mistakes.

“This is your first step in building a more productive mindset. By keeping a time journal you make yourself aware of how you spend your time. If you are interested in implementing a new time management strategy, it’s likely because you don’t use your time optimally. The time journal allows you to get to the core of the problem, to very clearly see areas where you are wasting time.

That’s the main purpose of using this tool – to make you aware of how you really use your time. You can’t improve if you don’t know your starting position. Most people believe they already know precisely how they use their time. Most people are wrong.”

5. A fixed period of time.

Let’s say you’ve decided to write a minimum of 30 minutes each day (or that can be calculated in page number, depending on how you’ve structured your plan) so that you can reach your goal of having a brand new ebook in a month.

What you need to do each day is set a certain time and make it a priority in your daily tasks. Try to find a place where you won’t be bothered and for the next 30 minutes think only about what you’re writing. Stay focused and don’t stop writing until the alarm goes off (if you’re using one).

What ways of boosting productivity have worked best for you?

And here’s part 2.

See also:

How can writing for 10 minutes each day change your life
Why we don’t get things done
Find the why that makes you cry
5 great ways to kickstart your morning
What to do when there are too many things to get done

Image by 55Laney69 @Flickr

Lidiya K

Lidiya K

Author, blogger and podcaster in the fields of self-improvement and life hacking. Creator of Let's Reach Success.
Full-time freelance writer. Lifestyle designer.
Lidiya K

34 Comments

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  1. Great post Lydia! In fact productivity is exactly what I’m focused on in my life at this point. In fact if you get a moment check one of our latest post “Tools To Use” on our Simply
    Life In Christ blog page” It goes well with this post.

    Thanks a mill for the reference link to Charles Duhigg “The Power Of Habit” and the link to receiving the free eBook “Master Your Time In 10 Minutes A Day.”

    Much Success,

    LaTrice

  2. My favorite part is about creating your mission statement. Everything that is driven by purpose and principle tend to deliver the best results, rather than focusing on todo lists, or rigid guidelines. Once I was finally able to define my mission statement into one thorough sentence, I was able to unlock the doors to a lifestyle of fulfillment, empowerment, and effectiveness. Thanks again for the nice article!

    1. Welcome! So glad you enjoyed it. I’ll be writing more on mission statement. I see you understand its importance quite well. Keep up the good work in your personal development 🙂

  3. Very interesting. If you could blog more in future about personal mission statement (how to arrive at it, what Qs to ask, etc), this would be mega helpful

        1. Silly me! I totally forgot my book is available free for those who sign-up for “Master Your Time…” book. The launch has already started, but I didn’t take it off yet.

    1. Hey lolkin, search for personal mission statement on Smashwords and you will find my book. You can view 30% of it online, that includes 17 sets of questions (unfortunately not more). I have also an article on http://www.expandbeyondyourself.com, but it’s more ‘why’ than ‘how’ info. (although there is some ‘how’ info too).

  4. Reblogged this on Marie Abanga's Blog and commented:
    I have been doing some of the things Lidiya mentions in her posts and I can say they have helped me considerably in my productivity. I try as much as possible to start off at 5 am each day and it used to be even 4 am.
    I keep apps in which I log my various tasks, my daily ‘achieved’, my notes and much more.
    I have always tried to do today what I can and should do as planned and not push to tomorrow or later.
    I am however to try out the two minute rule nor register any success at following the fixed period of time hack. the notifications of my phone and much more would not guarantee my total concentration. However, when I think I really need not to notified by the ‘smart’ phone, I just switch it silent.

    1. Keep up the good work! It’s great that you’re experimenting with different productivity hacks and find what works best for you.
      I don’t even have a smart phone and life is so much easier without it. I don’t have any notifications, unless I go to a certain site where they’re waiting for me. So I’m never bothered and distracted and have time for reading, writing and other stuff.
      Thanks for reblogging 🙂

  5. The 2 minute rule is my favorite. It will certainly reduce procrastination in my writing. Lovely post. Loving your blog.

  6. Saw a personal challenge by another blog writer, writer. His idea for his own personal challenge inspired me to return to writing. This has brought me a return to a more at ease state in life. Writing has always been something I enjoy doing. Some tell me, I do it well. For me it is not in doing it well, or profiting. I write to enjoy, to express, to entertain if possible. These are much the same reasons I read. Now, to become inspired to read again. *grin* A lot of the contemporary writers seem to have lost the “spark”. It does show. And that turns readers away.

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