Photo by Minh Pham on Unsplash

‘‘Do more, do more, do more!’’ Is that what’s going through your head at the moment? If so, that may be the one thing that is working against you when trying to be productive.

Unfortunately, some still define productivity as getting loads of things done, when productivity is really about getting the right things done. You will find a million techniques out there to help you do so. However, all the tips and hacks in the world only work if you make them work, which means that productivity starts with you.

What if productivity was, actually, a lifestyle? Here is a different perspective about productivity that you might find counterintuitive.

1- Get to know yourself

You are smart, driven and you know what you are doing. There is no logical reason why you would be inefficient or procrastinating….except that your brain does not make you act logically.

I mean, it does, but not according to what your conscious mind considers logical.

Being productive starts with understanding why you are not in the first place. Here are a few questions that will help you understand your current productivity habits and what’s holding you back.

  • Where do you make decisions that are adding tasks to your calendar?
  • When are you the most inefficient? the most efficient?
  • What do you do to keep yourself at work after hours?
  • What goes through your mind when tackling a task? What words do you tell yourself?
  • When do you get overwhelmed? How can you tell?

You can…

Take 5-10 minutes a day to journal about how you feel when you think of your goals. Slow down and listen to what you are telling yourself. Practice being honest with yourself, and an observer to your thoughts. Be curious about it, you may be surprised!

2- Accept yourself where you are

What do you wish you were more of? What do you wish you did better?

Are you waiting to ‘get there’ before you accept yourself? Pull up your socks and be willing to have an honest look at where you are and make the decisions that serve you right now so you can take steady steps toward where you want to be. It can be very unproductive to avoid the important questions, take action blindly, or worse, not take action at all, and hope that what we do will stick. Accepting doesn’t mean stopping improvements. It means being honest, present and making where you are part of the journey.

You can…

  • State one thing you want to be better at.
  • Define what you want to achieve in that matter — how do you know when you get there?
  • Take an honest look at where you are right now.
  • Decide that it is okay. (If you can’t see it, go back to tip number 1. That will help you.)
  • Establish what’s the next level and what action steps are needed to get there.

3- Develop your immunity to mistakes

‘‘I always did everything right and succeeded the first time in everything’’ – said no one ever.

Dwelling on mistakes, and trying to avoid them at all costs, can be a huge time waster. Do your best, and when mistakes happen, quickly look for the lesson, the wins, and pivot or try again.

Don’t get me wrong, it always sucks to lose. The less you make it mean something, and the more you reframe it as learning you can use to move forward, the more productive you will be.

My favorite approach to lower my resistance to taking risks is using play. Number 5 on this list will help you stretch this muscle.

4- Visualize your goals

When your goals are out of sight, how can you efficiently and consistently move forward?

Keep a crisp image in your mind of where you are going. That will be a massive help in decision-making because you will naturally make decisions that align with your goals and vision. With repetition, this will become a no brainer (and will help you take action on your plans too).

You can…

Frequently imagine how life will be when you reach your goals. It can be daydreaming of a specific moment in the future, frequently looking at a vision board or a picture that inspires you, recreating a feeling you want to enjoy through meditation, etc. Find a way that works for you. Keep it close, imagine it often.

5- Create time to play

Productivity is about being more deliberate with your time and efficient at decision-making. How can you practice doing that in a low-risk environment? The answer is play.

Engaging in playful activities is not only a great way to relax, but it can also help to exercise your creativity, practice taking risks, problem-solving and making decisions, without the fear of mistakes or consequences. It also helps to shut up your inner critic, bonus!

You can…

Practice having childlike fun again! Dance, draw, play board games, participate in an improv class…what have you always wanted to try? What do you miss doing? Make it part of your routine and allow yourself to have fun.

6- Treat yourself like an athlete

Aren’t you, actually, just like an athlete? You are skilled and the value you provide in the world requires strength and agility.

Your hard skills are only a fraction of what you offer. The way you are being and your unique energy are your true value – that is what nobody can replicate. Your mental and physical states are critical to your overall performance.

Get back to basics and be mindful of sleeping enough, eating well, exercising routinely, taking the time to breathe and exposing your mind to stimulating and positive sources of information.

Remember – you are a whole, a complex yet wonderfully made being and if you want to drive yourself to achieve more, you need to first know how to drive yourself.

When you discover that sweet spot, all of the hacks, apps, strategies, tricks & tips that you read everywhere will work much better!