How to Increase your Productivity: 3 questions and 5 rules

How to Increase your Productivity: 3 questions and 5 rules

Today I want to talk to you about how to increase yours personal productivity.

First, though, let's clarify what I mean by productivity: many think it means doing a lot of things and being perpetually busy, when that's not necessarily the case.

In fact, I would say that many of the most productive people I know spend a lot of time on activities that are anything but hectic, such as reading, walking, playing with their children and preparing a nice dinner at home.

They manage to do it precisely because they know how to use their time and energy extraordinarily efficiently, which is what I mean by being productive.

Of course, it's not easy and you don't always succeed.

I myself have lived through periods in which, more than a human being, I felt like a kind of hamster on a wheel that turned, turned, turned endlessly.

But doing things, being constantly busy, busy, overburdened, is certainly not a synonym of productivity, and this is the first and most important concept you need to keep in mind.

In short, it is not only the quantity of our efforts that counts, but also, and perhaps above all, their efficiency.

But how does one become productive?

In today's article I propose 3 questions and 5 rules to start from.

The 3 questions that immediately increase your productivity

Acting, as I often say, is essential. But without doing a minimum of analysis first, you risk starting in a disordered and unfocused way.

Here then, to be more productive, you must first necessarily clarify your ideas by asking yourself 3 questions:

1. What are your main goals at the moment?

A famous sentence from Seneca says "no wind is favorable for the sailor who does not know which port he wants to land at ”. 

Here, your goals are exactly that, your port.

So if you don't know what they are, if you have very generic and poorly defined desires, you will hardly be able to be really productive.

So first, settle down what you want to reach. To do this, I suggest you review my article in which I talk about SMART goals (you can click directly here)

2. How much of what you do really brings you closer to your goals? 

It is useless to go around it: we know perfectly well that many of the things we do are not really essential and not even remotely functional to achieving our goals.

Or, to quote René Char (today I'm in the mood for quotes), “the essential is continually threatened by the insignificant”.

If you allow our time - or the vast majority of it - to be literally engulfed by trivial things, useless activities, urgencies that overlap each other, you will arrive at the end of each day terribly tired, that yes.

But you haven't actually produced anything.

Whether it's relationships, study, work, play, learn to put what's most important first. It seems obvious, but few manage to do it consistently.

3. Where is your time going?

From time to time, I ask my students to tell me what they did during the day. Not broadly, but with a detailed list.

Invariably, when they compare what they have done with the hours they have available, they realize that they have done very little.

And the reason is almost always the same: poor ability to establish and maintain one's focus.

Fortunately, there are a number of very effective solutions for this problem:

  • Keep a diary, because if you don't know where your time is going, you can't even know where to pick it up
  • Use the Ivy Lee method and the To do Lists to plan the day in advance without killing creativity and pleasant unexpected events
  • Change your schedules, especially by taking advantage of the early hours of the morning (see article The great power of waking up at 5 am)
  • Practice healthy digital minimalism

How many times does your eye fall on whatsapp notifications, how many times do you open e-mails, how many times do you scroll down on some social media without knowing why?

How many times do you start something and don't finish it because another is distracting you?

How much time does he go away thinking or dealing with absolutely futile things?

Now that you've thought a bit, let's get down to business, which is how you can really take big steps forward to increase your personal productivity.

5 Rules to Really Increase Your Productivity

1. Establish good habits

I will never tire of repeating it: you can commit yourself to do anything, give your all, commit yourself to 1000, but if you do it for limited periods of time and then "row the oars in the boat", you will never be a person truly productive and you will not be able to create the success you really want.

“We are what we repeatedly do”, said Aristotle.

You must therefore try to make your behaviors virtuous of habits, to be repeated every day, with constancy, with determination, until they become pleasant automatisms.

To do this, take advantage of the Habit Loop principles that I describe in this article. 

2. NEVER put off difficult tasks

I think it happens to everyone: the phone call that we would not want to do, the complicated work that we do not know which way to take, the blank sheet that stares at us waiting for us to fill it with words (in my case, for example ..; - )

We all have our important but complicated things to deal with, either because they make us emotionally upset, or because they are demanding and difficult.

And what happens? That we postpone them all day, from day to day.

This makes the situation worse, because even while we do something else, they remain tormenting us in a corner of our mind.

They stand there, like an annoying pebble in the shoe, preventing us from seriously focusing on everything else and literally sucking the energy out of us.

Behold, you must take these things and get rid of them, get them off your feet, do them once and for all. 

It does not matter if you have not done them perfectly, you can come back to them, the important thing is that you face them immediately and without hesitation. After you will feel a great feeling of well-being, I guarantee it. And you will face everything else with a new spirit.

And if you are a chronic procrastinator, I certainly recommend that you learn more by reading the article Procrastination: why we do it and how you can stop.

3. Don't care about motivation

The lack of motivation / inspiration is a great classic of the excuses we tell ourselves for not doing what we have to do.

Listen to me: it's too comfortable to sit there waiting for the magical power of motivation to come down on us and make everything easy for us.

Forget the easy stuff! Also because being productive is not productive at all.

We all would like to wake up every morning on a beautiful sunny day, pervaded by the desire to throw ourselves headlong into useful and noble activities, strong and sure of ourselves and our imminent success. But in 90% of cases this will not be the case.

Then it will be you and only you who will make the difference, with your determination to really start ACTING, even though you feel tired, unmotivated, uninspired ... .. and despite the persistent voices coming from your brain begging you to throw yourself on the sofa and watch yet another Netflix series.

Remember that in most cases it is the action that makes the motivation grow in us (and self-esteem, believe me) and not vice versa.

4. Think not about what you want, but about what you need

“I'm not asking you for miracles or visions, but for the strength to face everyday life. Preserve me from the fear of losing something in life. Don't give me what I want, but what I need. Teach me the art of baby steps ”Antoine de Saint Exupery.

This sentence from the author of The Little Prince was a revelation to me from the first time I read it, that is, long before I even started studying or interested in personal improvement and development of my own potential.

It essentially taught me that what we want is not necessarily the same as what we really need.

Sometimes it is necessary to be hard on oneself and recognize that certain actions give immediate pleasure, but are absolutely not functional to achieving our goals.

We must have the courage to give up something firmly believing that this momentary sacrifice will bring us far greater benefits in the long term than the ephemeral moment of satisfaction we have given up.

What do you need? Going back to the beginning of the article, what are your real goals? What are the actions to reach them? Here, take care of this and do it for as long as possible.

Take some breaks, sure, but work hard, focus in the right direction (the port Seneca is talking about) and you will really see that you will become hugely more productive.

It is about procrastinating a satisfaction (for once I use procrastinating with a positive meaning) in the name of a greater ideal.

5. Take care of yourself

This is trivial, I know, but it is also fundamental.

You don't have to live like an ascetic, but if you don't take care of your body and your health first, you will never have the physical and mental energies necessary to be truly productive.

Therefore try to get enough sleep, to eat in an acceptable way, to move as much as you can and many times a day.

Indulge yourself in a few exceptions, if you like, but sparingly, because energy and health are too precious to be wasted.

I'll stop here, because I believe that, between the 3 questions and the 5 rules I gave you, you already have enough material to work on.

I confess that there could have been many more, because literally rivers of ink and hundreds of articles have been written on the subject of productivity.

But the "too much", as we saw a little while ago, is precisely one of the main enemies of productivity.

I therefore preferred to provide you with my personal distillation of what I have been able to read and observe in my life and in that of the people I have helped to be more productive. It's up to you now to make the best use of it.

A greeting and see you soon. Anthony.

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