I’m all about productivity and literally squeezing in as much as I humanly can into a single day. I’m a firm believer in taking big and bold action to “take the bull by the horns” in order to achieve a goal, but with action also comes the question, “So how can I actually accomplish all the actions I need to get done?”. Here are 3 simple yet very effective tactics to employ in your daily life so that you, too, can 10X your productivity today.
This tactic is great for those of us who can never seem to get things done in a day. My dad always said that the hardest part in any task is to start it. And it’s completely true: If I waited until the “time was right” or that “I have other things to do” or “I just don’t feel like it,” then nothing would get done.
The easiest way I’ve found to start any task that I really don’t want to do but know I must is to employ the 1-Minute Rule, where you give yourself literally 1 minute to work on that task. 1 minute. Not 5 minutes or 10 minutes. This allows my brain to think, “1 minute isn’t much time, so if I really hate doing it, I’ll just stop after 1 minute.” And I’ve never stopped after working on a task for 1 minute. I’ve thus tricked my brain into actually working and getting the task done.
The 1-Minute Rule allows me to tackle the tasks that seem extremely challenging or even tasks that require me to research and learn a new skill. This trick also works great for what I call my “One Thing” daily goal, where it’s typically something extremely daunting that I know I have to get done (see below for an explanation of the “One Thing”).
If you’re in the planner/agenda community like I am (in which case, please let me know your Instagram name so I can follow your pretty planner pictures!), then you’ve probably already heard of a habit tracker. For the past 2 years, I’ve been going through many different versions of a habit tracker because I would actually fall out of the habit of checking my habit tracker!
A habit tracker is simply a chart in a paper planner where it has dates on the top row, with the habits/tasks you want to track on the first left column of the chart. The rest of the chart are boxes so that you can check off the habit you do for every date of the chart.
It’s a very simple and straightforward way to track the habits you want to get done on a daily or weekly basis (such as I want to make sure I’m meditating every morning, or reading every evening, or at least trying to do those tasks every day).
If you have a set of habits or routines you want to get done every day or week, I highly suggest creating a habit tracker chart. The key (and this is where many people, including myself, fail in this system) is to actually check your habit tracker daily so you remember to do those tasks in the first place.
The “planner hack” I’ve found was to literally tape my habit tracker chart into my planner, so that I always see it. It’s a fold-out in the back of the planner, so when I’m using my weekly view pages for priority task writing, I have my habit tracker open and next to the weekly pages, so I can see both my priority tasks and habit tracker chart all at once (I’ll have to do an overview of my habit tracker in a video so you can visually see this). Find any system that works for you so that you physically see your habit tracker chart all the time, even if you have to tape it to your wall or have it sit on your desk.
I think most of the population has a difficult time with this third point. It’s easy for us to say “cut distractions to increase productivity throughout the day,” but it’s much more complex than that.
I believe that distractions are the downfall to productivity. Distractions include phone calls, email ping sounds, other people coming to talk to you, Facebook desktop notifications, Instagram notifications, text message alerts on the lock screen of my iPhone, even my own wandering thoughts become distracting.
Here are a few tips on how to cut distractions out for good, so you can have more time to accomplish the tasks that push you closer to your goals on a daily basis.
Keep your phone on silent and face down during the day. If need be, put your phone on airplane mode or even shut it off if you have to. The cell phone is my number one distraction-creator, so I’ve made it a habit of controlling the settings so that it doesn’t have the option to distract me. In iPhone, it’s going to Settings -> Notifications, then switch the button for “Allow Notifications” to off (not green) for every app that dings at me. You can even do a “Do Not Disturb” mode as well if you don’t want to even accept calls.
Stop going on social media during the day. Unless your job is to be on social media, don’t even go on it. Social media such as Facebook and Instagram are built to suck as much of your attention to their apps so that they can charge more money to their advertisers, so don’t fall for it. If you must post on social media for your work, dedicate a posting schedule where you’re on social media only to post content, or go as far as pre-scheduling content using scheduling services (Facebook also has a post schedule built-in). If you need to reply to comments, create a system for replying to comments in batches (such as if you post at 11am, check comments at 12pm and 1pm, not replying to comments as they come in). If you must, create a calendar alarm on your phone to go off twice a day (once in the morning and once at night), and you can only check social media newsfeeds when the alarm goes off.
Know your “one thing” priority daily goal. I know that every task on your to-do list can feel like top priority, so this one takes practice. If you are able to identify the “one thing” you need to do that day that will move the needle forward towards your ultimate goal, that “one thing” needs to be #1 priority to accomplish. I work on my “one thing” first before any other task, that way I get the most important task done first, and I feel that much closer to achieving my ultimate goal. The key is to not fall into the trap of looking at your to-do list in the morning and then accomplishing the easiest or quickest tasks first, those are not to be considered small wins and probably won’t really push you towards achieving your goal (called “empty wins”). Focusing your attention on your “one thing” and doing it as your first task will automatically mean you will accomplish your top priority task every single day.
The key with productivity is to finish the priority tasks that will push you further towards your goal and to minimize distractions in order to free your time for more priority tasks to be done. Productivity is not about squeezing in as many meaningless actions into the day as possible, which many people consider being “productive,” yet they wonder why they’re not achieving their goals (their priorities simply weren’t in the right place).
Photo Credit: @targetstyle