Nothing is more fulfilling than ending your day knowing that you have done everything you were supposed to do. Knowing that your efforts were channeled to something that will turn out very fruitful to you.
However, as fulfilling as the completed tasks may be, getting to do them is equally as hard sometimes. It takes commitment, willpower, focus, and relentless efforts. We all want to get things done. And not just getting them done but also doing them with utmost quality input to get quality results.
By the time you have searched for this page, you either noticed a deficiency in your productivity or realized that you are not productive at all. If you read, internalize, and put into effect what is mentioned in this article, you will be so proud of yourself very soon.
Being productive means being able to do useful and valuable work in an appropriate period. We all know one focused person in life who mastered the art of getting things done. If it’s at a workplace, he will finish his tasks before deadlines. If it’s at school, he will have his assignment ready before anyone else.
Such people usually end up very successful despite their other inadequacies. Getting things done is what drives the wheel towards success. You can get the best house designs and plans from an architect but if bricks are not laid to build the house, you will never have a house.
There is a vast difference between being productive and being busy. You can be productive and busy at the same time. However, you can be busy and not productive.
A snudge is a person who pretends to be busy yet does nothing. Sometimes you can feel tired at day end yet you actually did nothing productive. This is where the questions of how and what comes in. How do you become productive and what makes you productive?
Before we answer the ”how” let us first explore what makes you productive? You become productive when you are efficient and effective in what you do.
Being effective means doing those things that have value to your life, work, family, or environment. Being efficient means doing your tasks in the right way. Simply said, being productive means doing things of value in the right way.
How do you become productive?
There is no specific or a one size fits all formula to become productive. It is more of a mindset or attitude issue. There are several reasons why you may be unproductive. It is within your power to make that decision to find out what is stopping you to do things as you should be doing them.
But in case you can’t introspect and find the root cause, here are some of the general reasons why people become unproductive.
- Fighting unnecessary battles. Our emotions take a great deal of our focus, energy and willpower. Where we expend it matters a lot. At times we give attention to the smallest of matters that in actuality are not a big deal. A small misunderstanding can make you ruminate over it for the entire day instead of focusing on other things of value. Be conscious of what consumes your emotional energy so you can choose what to ignore or give attention. If it wont matter a week from now, its best you put it aside.
- Focusing on the complexity of the task. In his book titled ‘’WILL’’, Will Smith and his brother Harry smith, in their childhood, were told by their father to construct a wall. At their age, it seemed impossible. They couldn’t disobey their father however, so they got busy. Every day after school they laid bricks and had it all ready after 18 months. When they looked at the space where the wall was to be erected, they got overwhelmed. But they broke it down to laying a few bricks per day, even though it took time, it got done. When we focus on how hard the task to be done is, our brains get overwhelmed and we are put into mental gymnastics and a self-defeating position that convinces us that we can not start and productively finish it. Do not look at how big the task is, focus on what you can do about it today. If you want to write a 200page book, focus on how you can write two pages today than how you will write the 200pages.
- Self-doubt. To doubt yourself means question your abilities. This is something many people battle with. I want you to know that its not only you. Prominent people and celebrities have admitted struggling with self-doubt. The difference between you and them is that they do not fall for its games. They defy it. When you get an opportunity to do something life changing then some hypocritic monkey voice says to you ‘’you cant do it’’, disobey it. One reason people become so unproductive is that they listen to it. If you ever doubt yourself at any given task, write down answers to these three questions. One. What will happen if you do it and fail? Two what will happen if you do it and succeed? Three. What will happen if you do not do anything at all? If the answer two question number one is you will die, then do not do it. If you wont die, do it. If you fail, you will learn. In anyway you win.
- Lack of self control and self awareness. Self mastery is one great thing productive people have. Having self control and self awareness breeds mastery which in turn gives you profound discipline. Knowing who you are gives you clarity of what you want. Knowing what you want will keep you on your toes until you get it. It will give you the discipline to do what you are supposed to do and when. However, lack of self control and self awareness will make you a leaf that is blown to which ever side the wind is going to. if you have to be doing something up early but the bed feels so cozy, you choose to stay in bed and wake up late.
- Impulsivity. Doing things on impulse is one hindrance of being productive. I have a friend who is addicted to sex, even when he is at work and something sexual crosses his mind, he will pause and start texting girls. That is acting on impulse. Ability to hold back from your emotions and any external stimulations enables you to stay focused and be productive.
- Waiting for motivation. You will not be motivated everytime. There are days that you will feel like not doing anything even when you have a plethora of tasks on your table. If you wait to be motivated, you might be productive once a week. You have to be willing to work even when you are least motivated.
- Lack of a clear vision. When you have no clear vision of where you want to go, you easily get distracted by anything. You stop to throw stones at every dog backing at you. You will succumb to any temptation to do unproductive things. With a clear vision you are pushed to move forward with or without distraction.
The above are general hindrances to being productive. You may have personal reasons that hinder you. Maybe you have a health problem, you are facing a heartbreak, going through depression, etc.
If you happen to know that reason, please contact concerned individuals or professionals so they can help you find a way to become productive. Without further ado, let us explore the things to do to become productive or more productive.
- Have a daily ‘’To do list’’.
In your journal or to-do list phone application. Write down all the things you can do each day. From those things, eliminate the things that can wait. Keep those major and must do things and allocate time for them when they should be done. Ensure to keep the list short not to get overwhelmed. Sometimes less is more. A long to-do list will overwhelm your mind and lower your willpower.
Give priority to those things that bring a high return to your life. Those things add value to your life. If they are many things that have to be done in one day, delegate some. Not everything on your to-do list should be done by you. Learn to delegate some tasks so you can concentrate on doing those things you can give the best of you
3 Stick to the morning ritual. Hal Elrod’s ‘‘Miracle morning” clearly describes the power of a morning ritual. A morning ritual is a composition of activities one can do immediately after waking up to stimulate spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health and growth.
The activities may include, reading a book, working out, praying, meditating, yoga, etc. The importance of a morning ritual is that it sets your mind and body in a position to take on any day’s activities. A morning ritual programs your mind to believe that the day ahead is for doing valuable activities.
If you start your day with serious constructive activities, you will be in productive mode all day. If you however start the day with checking emails, WhatsApp messages, and what is new in the celebrity world, chances are your entire day wont be any different. It is a mind hack.
4 Complex tasks are for mornings. Look through your to-do list and pick out those activities that will require you to invest a lot of focus, energy, and concentration. Those are the activities to do first. It is in the morning when the mind is most fresh. When the body is most energetic. When your willpower is strongest. You wouldn’t want to start on a hard task in the evening when you are tired.
5 Social media and other distractions. In a world where technology is at the highest it has ever been, staying focused has become a superpower. In fact, soon, a person who will be able to focus or for long hours will be a genius. Many people are so distracted.
People have become slaves to technology. At any impulse, they will want to check on their social media messages. Before I had a social media detox, it would feel like an hour going ten minutes without checking my Twitter or Facebook account. It is not easy to focus with smartphones an inch away.
Some people have reached a level of browsing porn at work because it’s easily accessible. If you want to be so productive, block all these distractions and focus.
Disconnect your phone from WIFI or sign out of your socials. This is what has helped me. I focus for 3 full hours doing something productive with all my distractions blocked. When am starting an activity, I set a timer and I don’t stop until the three-hour bell runs.
Then I can check on my social media platforms. Three hours may be too many for you. I didn’t start at three hours. I started with thirty minutes and increased gradually. My goal is to be focused for five hours without being distracted.
6 Cut out excuses and delusions (stop being lazy). Like I said earlier, not every busy person is being productive. It is also a form of laziness. I have seen colleagues at work busy on their computers checking emails and searching for the latest gossip or fashion trends. You see them typing and think they are working on something of great value.
If it does not serve your goal, it is unproductive. You are just wasting your energy and time. Creating excuses to do easy tasks will bring you equal results. Do not expect to harvest millions where you planted cents. Learn to go for challenging and harder tasks.
7. Stop multi-tasking. There is a saying, ‘’it is good to know something about everything but much better to know everything about something”. Let’s twist that quote a little bit. It is good to do a little of every task but much better to do everything in one task.
If you multi-task you are going to be distracted. You will confuse your mind. Imagine switching back and forth from writing a book to cold calling potential clients. You will disrupt how deep your creativity in one thing can go.
Focus on writing a book then the concentration will concentrate your mind on what you are writing and summon all angels of creativity to help you. If it is cold calling, your mind will summon all convincing words to enable you to convert a client.
8. Break tasks into smaller tasks. The complexity of the whole task will overwhelm you but if you break it into smaller tasks it will all look simple and doable. Come to think of it, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You didn’t even read this article at once.
You read one paragraph to another until it was done. My grandma loves my articles. Though she struggles with her sight, she can read it for a full day. The same applies to that complex task, do it step by step you will eventually finish it.
Just like Will Smith and his brother did with the wall they had to build. If they looked at it in its entirety, they would give up, but broken down to small tasks of a few bricks laid per day, they made it. By the way, after they were done, their father told them “Now, don’t you ever tell me you can’t do something again.”
8 Declutter your mind. We harbor a lot of useless junk in our minds. Grudges, thoughts, anger, stress, worries, and fantasies do not serve us any good. Release a lot of those useless thoughts in your mind so you can focus on important things.
This is one thing that productive people do. The less useless baggage and loads your mind holds the more space you have for important things. This helps you to focus and simplifies your decision-making.
Mark Zuckerburg, the proprietor of Facebook, said he chose to have many similar grey shirts in his wardrobe to reduce the things he has to decide about. If such an achiever is letting go of the smallest of such decisions to make, why keep hold of that useless grudge and fantasy.
9 Be kind to yourself. Self-compassion is one factor that pushes productive people to stay in line with doing things of value. If being productive was as easy as watching Netflix everyone would be an achiever. But unfortunately, it’s not, becoming and staying productive is not something you just develop in a day or two. It takes time.
Committing to do productive staff takes a lot of willpower. I can not guarantee you how long it will take you to become as productive as you want to be but I can assure you that if you commit you will get there.
However, do not be discouraged when you fail on several attempts. Do not judge yourself. Do not beat yourself up. Do not give up. Understand that you are human. Understand that you are uprooting a deep-rooted brain pattern of laziness and unproductiveness that only needs time to be out.
Give yourself a positive e pep talk whenever you are taking on a task. Avoid negative internal dialogue for it will drain you of your motivation and make you self sabotage yourself.
10 Get possessed with being productive. Read books about being productive. Books like ‘’Atomic habits’’ by James Clear, ‘’Deep Work’’ by Cal Newport, ‘’Eat that Frog’’ by Brian Tracy and many more. Ali Abdaal’s skillshare course about productivity is great one to help you.
Surround yourself with productive people. Remember you are an average of the five people you surround yourself with. Energy, behavior, and mindsets are contagious. If you are surrounded by people with habits and productivity you want to have, at the very least you will be next to them in being productive if ranked. Keep track of your performance every day.
11Celebrate your wins. However small they may be, celebrate your daily achievements. Have a glass of wine at the end of a productive day. This will not only give you confidence in your abilities but also motivate you to face the next day with a winner’s attitude.
12 Hold yourself accountable. The slogan of highly productive people is that ‘’No one is coming to help you’’. Yes, no one is coming to achieve your dreams for you. Only you can. In doing so, there are some things you will have to do to lead you to your dream.
Be accountable for doing those things. Everything happening in your life is an outcome of your decisions and choices. Do not look for excuses to numb your pains and failures. Hold yourself accountable. That way you will be motivated to act so you can have your world the way you want it.
Conclusion: Productivity, like any other high-value habit, is developed through effort and commitment. It takes time to come from zero or low productivity to being very productive. It is not an impossible thing. It can take you 21 days, a month, or even years to become productive. What determines how fast you become productive is your commitment and effort to break lazy habits or the barriers that stop you from being productive. Retrospect and write down those barriers and commit to breaking them. Once you finally do, you will be overwhelmed by how much you can achieve in a short time. Share with me that barrier you think stops you from producing the best of you