4 Tips to a More Productive You in 2021 (Part 4 of 6)
As you approach this fresh, new year, it would be good to do some introspection on your level of productivity. Take a good look at how you actually spent the hours in your days this past year. Were your weekday (and weekend) calendar filled with so much to do’s that there’s barely any white space anymore? Or, did you plan out to do a ton of stuff (in your head) but essentially only managed to binge-watch a boatload of YouTube videos and get updated on all of your friends’ lives on Instagram? If a tv show is going to do a documentary of your life, how’s “A Day in the Life of insert your name” going to look like?
Productivity is generally defined as the ability of a person or a group of persons, to produce output efficiently within a given time. Your productivity level may be determined by a variety of internal and external factors. Your time management skills, as well as your physical capability, may determine how productive you are in a day. Your priorities, motivations and external distractions also play a huge part on whether you’re ticking off every item in your to-do list or not.
Are you ready to re-examine and take your productivity to the next level in 2021? Here are 4 tips to get you on your way:
Figure out what’s distracting you and tackle it head-on
Knowing what the problem is, is always an important step to solve it. You’ve set yourself a goal but for some cosmic, unfathomable reason, you’ve done everything else but that. You may have found yourself procrastinating every single time you’re faced with a particular task at hand. You think the reason why you’re being unproductive is because you’re procrastinating. The thing is, the act of procrastination in itself is not the problem, but rather it is a reaction to other underlying problems that you may not even be aware of.
If you find yourself wanting to do something else when you’re supposed to be a doing a certain task, ask yourself, why? What is it with this task that you are navigating away from it? Go to the very root cause of the emotion you’re feeling and tackle it head-on. It might be rooted to deeper feelings of anxiety, vulnerability, etc. Once you figure these out, you may just be well on your way to keep your procrastination tendencies at bay.
Set realistic goals
Being able to set realistic goals is already a goal in itself. Figuring out how to be strategic with your goals is a good way to set you up for success. You consider yourself productive when you’re ticking off your goals one by one, whether long term or short term. As you would obviously want to achieve the goals that you set for yourself, you need to make sure that you operate in your reality when setting one.
You “operate in your reality” when you take into account the factors that are going to be at play when you work to achieve your goal. Given your resources (e.g. time, money, energy, etc.) and commitment, do you think it is realistic to set 10 resolutions for yourself? Or 4 to 5 carefully planned and thought out goals instead?
Making sure that the goals you set are realistic does not only improve your productivity, it also increases your enthusiasm and gives you the foundation you need to work on more realistic goals that excite you in the future.
Find out what motivates you
Motivation is one of the most important ingredients in leading a productive life. If you’re motivated, you become invested, you show up, you own it and you put in the work. It is the fuel to your engine, it’s what keeps you going and moving forward despite difficulties. In the greater scheme of things, it is what you tell yourself when you question why are you doing what you’re doing.
What is it that motivates you? What is it that drives you enough to try hard, and try even harder when the going gets tough? Figure it out, internalize it and write it down. The next time you want to work on something important and you can’t find any reason to continue, all those pictures of the Maldives in your vision board will summon all the creativity that you need to finish that proposal.
Maintain work-life balance
Pre-pandemic, “working from home” is almost unheard of and is usually a workplace practice reserved for more progressive companies with systems already laid out in place. Because of recent events, people had to make adjustments and systems had to be put in place because they had no choice. As this practice is relatively new, some people had trouble navigating this uncharted territory. Employees who work from home may feel an added pressure to be productive and prove that they are working because they can’t be seen doing the actual work similar to a physical office situation.
How has your daily work schedule changed when you had to work from home? Did the number of your meetings increase? Are your “work hours” still confined within the usual work hours, or has the boundary between personal and work time become blurred? Is your boundary being respected or do you keep getting emails and work messages outside of the time that you should only be available? How has this affected your productivity, both personal and professional?
For the sake of maintaining work-life balance which ultimately contributes to the quality of your life and relationships, you need to ask questions. You may think you’re being productive, but in reality, you’re stacking up your tiles in one aspect but emptying out other important ones in the process. You have to keep in mind that you work to live, and not live to work.
Productivity may be a double-edged sword for some in a way that you can’t be too over lest you risk being burnout or too under that you don’t accomplish anything. It doesn’t have to be that way for you, not in 2021.
Know your priorities, determine your commitment level and establish boundaries - you’ll be sure to find a groove that works for you. That’s it for part 4, see you in part 5!