12 Great Habits to Cultivate To Increase Productivity
Updated August 2014
Over the last year or so I've had to keep a tight reign on my work schedule due to increasing workload and demands on my time. I've had to do the following:
Write, record and edit over 250 Guided Meditations for a joint venture at GuidedMind.com
Write 2 articles every week for the blogs
Record and edit videos for the sales pages at GuidedMind.com
Completely revamp the website and record over 20 training videos for the MindAlchemy program
Ad hoc interviews via skype and more recently become a trainer at the En*Theos Academy
Write, re-write and edit a fictional book I am working on called The Dream Dancers
I've had to develop some habits quickly in order to achieve all this, so here they are, hopefully they might help you:
12 Habits to cultivate to increase productivity
1. Shut off email – This seems obvious, but for me I had my email on all the time, and every time that little pinging sound came through I would go to check my emails.
Now I turn on my emails first thing in the morning, only to deal with customer service issues. I then turn it on at 12pm and 6pm, spending as little time as possible, and prioritising.
2. Chunk the tasks – The best thing I have done is to chunk my work. So with the 200 sets I have to write, I will chunk them into groups of 5: I will write 5 pieces of creative writing, then I will record and edit these 5 pieces, and then go on to write the 5 sales pages for them.
This way I am in creative mode for around 4-5 hours at a time, I then go into producer mode for 5 hours, and then into sales mode for around 5 hours. It makes it a lot easier going from role to role in block amounts of time, rather than changing roles every hour or so.
3. Setting targets – This is another important one. Before I go to bed at night I've created the habit of setting targets for the next day. So last night I set my targets of writing a piece for the CYT blog, contact to JV partners to set up JVs, write 5 pieces of creative writing, record and edit 3 pieces.
When I set my mind up for the day ahead I know exactly what I am supposed to be doing, and can measure my success at the end of the day.
This has the added benefit of pushing me to get work done and not be distracted.
4. Recognise peak productivity periods – I discovered this one as I started the new project. I found that I worked better, creatively, from around 8 am to 1pm, which means I can either write the creative pieces or do the sales pages in batches of 5 (before this time, 5am – 8am, I check emails and deal with them accordingly, I take the dog for a walk, do a little housework, which means it's not on my list of things to do in the afternoon, and I am with my family from 7am – 8am).
At around 1pm I take a 15 minute nap and then have something to eat and a cup of coffee before starting again at around 2pm.
I can then record and edit the creative pieces in the afternoon for as long as I can before my wife and two sons get in from work and school. Then it's family time again up until around 7pm
7pm – 9pm I can start on the sales pages or creative pieces, and still help with homework or just sitting with my wife for coffee and just chatting about day.
9pm finish – whew!
So I know exactly when my brain is in gear and what it's best doing at certain times of the day. There's also a Great Productivity Technique I Use Here
5. Early riser – I've mentioned this lots of times, but one of the best habits I've developed over the years is to become an early riser, without being an early riser I wouldn't get nowhere near as much work done as I do just now.
6. Get into hyper mode – By doing the new project I've discovered that if I go into hyper mode and write as quickly as I can without stopping, I can get a lot more work done. There's a lot of mistakes in the writing (spell checker is a lifesaver) , but my mind speeds up, my typing gets faster, and generally I am able to think a lot quicker.
I can keep this up for about 45 minutes at a time, but am able to do double the work in that amount of time. I am writing this blog post in hyper mode just now, just writing as quickly as I can without stopping to make it perfect, I will tell you how long it took to write this article at the end.
7. Become a little OCD about your workspace – A tidy desk keeps a tidy mind, I've always believed this and keep my desk, and my workspace in general, as clean and free from clutter as possible. I do believe that the state of your desk, and house in general, reflects your state of mind. Conversely, if you keep a tidy house your mind will be a lot less cluttered.
8. Take action right now – If I have an idea about something and I genuinely think it's a good idea I will take action on it immediately. This beats procrastinating and over thinking the things that are involved in whatever it is you're thinking about.
9. MVP (Minimum viable product) – Eris Reiss, in his book 'The Lean Start-up' talks about something called an MVP (minimum viable product).
Basically it is saying that if you have a plan to produce a product, rather than trying to make it perfect and second guess what your customers really want, make the product as quickly as possible and get it onto the market as quick as possible, and start to learn what your customers are asking for and continue to develop the product.
This way you have momentum, you get customer feedback immediately, and you also get money coming in immediately. This might apply to you if you are making a product for your niche (starting a forum, a membership program, a video program, anything really), don't try and make it perfect, just get it out there, get feedback and keep developing. It also saves a hell of a lot of time.
10. Toilet reading – I love to read, but rarely find the time to do it anymore with so much going on. So I take advantage of those moments when I am waiting around. Most of my reading is now done in the toilet, waiting in queues, picking up my sons from friends houses or waiting on them for after school clubs. I also listen to audio books in the car. Over the course of a week I can usually get about 5 hours of reading done using all the time space above.
11. Chunking down – This is similar to what I mentioned at the beginning for the post. with chunking down you take a big task, which can seem really daunting, and break it down into much smaller tasks. It is still exactly the same amount of work that you have to do, however on a psychological level it is much easier to do when you chunk it down
12. Just say no – learning to say no in your personal life and your business life can be very uncomfortable, but if you're going to be successful and feel empowered, you have to say no to things that are not important in your life.
I hope these 12 habits have given you something to think about. As always leave a comment below to let me know your thoughts on this.
p.s. for those of you interested from habit 6, this article took me 39 minutes to write this 1,439 word article 😉