That’s the most frequent response when you ask an entrepreneur or professional how things are.
While it’s often just a lazy answer and not one that truly shareshow things are, it’s for some reason a real representation of what people strive for. The idea of being busy has become a badge of honor rather than something we critically evaluate.
But being busy isn’t always a good thing.
If you’re constantly checking emails, scheduling tweets, managing your calendar and never truly executing –you’re being busy for the sake of being busy.
That’s not productive. That’s not what’s going to change the world.
You need to understand what it is that you truly need to accomplish and focus on those things. When you can do that, magic happens as what you’re executing on starts to produce real results.
But how can you do it? How can you ensure that you’re not falling into the busy trap and, instead, be productive with your time?
Well here are a few tips that can help…
How many tasks are you doing day in and day out that seem kind of robotic?
Start tracking them. Start to think about what tasks you’re doing all the time and figure out ways to automate those tasks so they don’t unnecessarily suck up your time. These are the tasks - the redundancies - that are holding you back from tackling the more important things on your plate.
In today’s world, there are so many tools and products that can help make your day to day in the office easier. Whether it’s a tool that makes life easier for trackingexpenses or a tool that makes content scheduling a breeze, likeBuffer - there’s an app for it!
Zapier may win the automation game. It’s a tool that makes it easier for other apps and products to work together (basically automating automation 😱). Here are a few tasks that Zapier can help with:
And much more…
Make A Genuinely Productive To-Do List
It’s satisfying to check off all the items on your to-do list.
It feels like you’ve made your day count and you can sleep at night knowing that you’ve accomplished something.
But what exactly makes up your to-do list?
Is it filled with email checking? Meetings that lead to more meetings? A lunch with someone who wanted to pick your brain? Or maybe five little tasks that, in a week, you’ll have to tackle all over again?
When we think of a busy person, we envision someone sitting at their desk with piles of paperwork, the phone ringing off the hook, and notifications coming in in all directions. Rather than view it as a chaotic mess, we view it as a badge of honor. But that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Sociologist Christine Carter, Ph.D., an expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, put it this way:
Busyness is not a marker of intelligence, importance, or success. Taken to an extreme, it is much more likely a marker of conformity or powerlessness or fear.
Instead, it’s time to fill your to-do list with a mixture of easy, medium, and difficult tasks. This way you can get the satisfaction of checking items off and staying motivated, while remaining productive and getting the work you really need done—done.
We’ve conditioned ourselves to be prideful in the act of being busy. There is no pride in that. – Joshua Garity
The most productive people focus on the things that matter.
The only way to know what tasks actually matter is to start measuring and tracking the output and results of your various tasks. For example, if you’re spending 5 hours a week attending a handful of Twitter Chats - what’s the actual return on this investment? Are you seeing new clients? Gaining new speaking opportunities? Getting new leads in the funnel?
Understand the actual return on your investments to know if they’re worthwhile.
From there, don’t be afraid to cut the fat. If you’ve been investing heavily into weekly YouTube videos but are still only generating 200 views a video – it might be time to reconsider your approach.
You often see way too many startups and businesses investing time and energy into tactics that theythinkare important without actually measuring the return.
Find the things that drive results and invest there.
Focus on them. Embrace them. Own them.
Despite what you may think, multitasking is not an efficient way of working. It wreaks havoc on your productivity and takes more mental effort on the whole. This means that switching in-between tasks takes a considerable amount of your willpower, as opposed to doing one task alone.
This is verified by a study onhuman perception and performance, which claims multitasking wastes time because it takes more effort to shift your focus back to the task at hand.
Furthermore, multitasking affects your short-term memory, making it doubly hard to remember the little details you might need in order to accomplish a particular task.
Instead of multi-tasking; execute your tasks inbatches.
For example, block off two hours a day to chat with existing or potential clients. In this time, don’t take any breaks to write blog posts, check emails, track metrics, or anything else – focus solely on those conversations and keeping track of the insights you gain.
Learning to own your schedule is such an underrated skill.
Robert Epstein conducted a survey a few years back on the factors that affect happiness and found that one of the most prominent results turned out to be stress management. The better people manage their stress, the happier they feel. But what exactly is the best way to manage stress?
You have thousands of options for where to spend your time each and every day. From meetings and calls to browsing Twitter and Reddit– the possibilities are truly endless.
But instead of tackling your week with whatever hits you, start by reviewing your calendar and blocking off time for both execution and meetings. Don’t fall into the trap of spending too much time letting folks “pick your brain” as it’s a drain on your time.
Take control of your schedule and you’ll have control of your sanity.
According toPsychology Today, “mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present.” In itsBuddhist context, mindfulness meditation has three overarching purposes:knowing the mind; training the mind; andfreeing the mind.
Yoga is a great habit that can help you take a step back and become more aware of the big picture. It can also arm you with a different perspective for dealing with temporary discomfort, and to take a more meaningful approach to how you act and communicate.
Mindfulness in the form of meditation is practiced by some of the most successful people on the planet. From Oprah and Tim Ferriss to Russell Simmons or Kobe Bryant – It’s a practice that they attribute a significant amount of their success to.
A team from the University of British Columbia and the Chemnitz University of Technology were able topool data from more than 20 studies to determine which areas of the brain are consistently affected by mindfulness. In their studies, they identified the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) as one of the major parts of the brain affected by meditation.
The ACC isassociated with self-regulation, meaning the ability to purposefully direct attention and behavior, suppress inappropriate knee-jerk responses, and switch strategies flexibly. People withdamage to the ACC show impulsivity and unchecked aggression, and those withimpaired connections between this and other brain regions perform poorly on tests of mental flexibility: they hold onto ineffective problem-solving strategies rather than adapting their behavior.
Simply, ACC can help your productivity by strengthening your brain. Instead of spending hours on one problem you can’t solve, mindfulness can help you overcome it. And this is just the beginning as it relates to the benefits of mindfulness.
When you combine mindfulness with yoga, it can be good for your physical health as well. And as a result, arm you with both the ability to be more focused and healthy. It’s a win-win!
Here’s an idea: track your time and efforts through your calendar and review it when your week is over. This can give you a better understanding of what you’re doing with your time and ensure that it’s actually aligned with your goals and priorities. If it doesn’t line up appropriately, you can recognize the issues and ensure that they don’t occur the following week.
Keeping yourself in check is the best way to keep you away from the dangerous phrase, “Sorry, I’m unavailable.”
It’s hard to know if you’re focused on the right things if you’re not keeping track of where you’re spending your time. We often go through our week by simply moving through the motions. This activity is what leads us down a path of busyness rather than purposefulness.
Don’t let it happen.
Track your time. Track your efforts.
And once you’ve taken a look at where your time is actually being spent, optimize it moving forward to be more aligned with the goals and objectives you’re hoping to accomplish.
As we continue through 2019, we’re hopeful that you can use these tactics to be more productive and efficient.
We’re hopeful that these ideas can help guide you down a path of productivity rather than business.
By understanding the importance of staying focused and walking away from the trap of busyness, you can be more effective and efficient in your actions.
Avoid the trap of being busy by being more mindful, monitoring your efforts, optimizing them, learning to say no, and moving into a state of purposefulness.
But we also want to hear from you!
What tools have you found that helped increase your productivity? What are some of the strategies you’ve used to be more effective in managing your time? Let us know in the comments below!
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