What it means to be productive: accomplishing tasks that matter to you and your business in an efficient manner.
Productivity isn’t just about checking things off your to-do list – it’s about checking things off your to-do list that are helping you move forward based on the goals you’ve set.
How do you do this?
It’s simple: plan ahead.
Well, simple, but not easy.
The easiest way to set yourself up for productivity is to make sure the tasks you want to accomplish are laid out in front of you. That way you never have to guess “what’s next”.
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. ~ Benjamin Franklin
A plan for productivity
Let’s make a deal: I’ll give you my plan for productivity if you’ll commit to following it. I guarantee you this plan will work – if you use it.
Whether you choose to use it or not is completely up to you.
I’ll start by sharing what my plan looks like from 30 feet away (zoomed out, if you will), and we’ll continue to get closer and closer until we’re literally sitting at my desk together.
Step 1: It starts with setting goals
Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. ~ Tony Robbins
My plan from 30 feet away: Setting goals does not take a long time, it is not strenuous, it feels amazing, and it’s an absolute must if you want to be successful.
Do not overcomplicate this, otherwise, you’ve sabotaged your plan for productivity before you’ve even started.
Set a timer for 30 minutes, and answer these 3 questions:
- What do I want to see happen in my business (or life) over the next 3 months?
- Why do I want to see these things happen in my business (or life)?
- How can I be more specific about what I’ve just written down?
These goals do not have to be big, massive, long-term things that take months and months to accomplish. They can be things like:
- Launch my website
- Connect with influencers
- Join a mastermind group
- Learn Instagram
Step 2: Make your goals SMART
People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going. ~ Earl Nightingale
My plan from 25 feet away: Making sure your goals are SMART will help you put a plan in place you can execute.
- Specific – what exactly do you want to accomplish? Don’t be vague
- Measurable – how will you know once you’ve accomplished your goal? Use a % or #
- Attainable – stretch yourself, but don’t stretch too far – is your goal attainable?
- Relevant – it has to matter to you and your business
- Time-bound – give yourself a deadline: when will you reach your goal by?
Set a timer for 30 minutes, take one goal from your list, and put it through the SMART criteria.
Let’s choose “Learn Instagram”.
- Specific – I want to learn how to grow my following on Instagram in order to gain credibility and connect and learn more about my audience
- Measurable – Increase followers to 5,000 and connect with at least 50 of them one-on-one, outside of Instagram
- Attainable – I can do this!
- Relevant – Yes, Instagram is where my avatar is hanging out and these connections will help me to connect and learn more about my audience, all while gaining credibility through providing valuable content
- Time-bound – I’m giving myself 90 days; my deadline = April 1
Step 3: Put a plan in place
Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success. ~ Pablo Picasso
My plan from 15 feet away: Putting a plan in place starts with writing out the individual steps you know you need to take in order to accomplish your goal.
When you know exactly what you need to do to get one step closer to your goal, there is no guesswork when it comes to taking action.
Set a timer for 30 minutes and write out the individual steps you know you need to take in order to accomplish your goal.
Brainstorm, use your existing knowledge, and reach out to those who have come before you (either directly or indirectly) to better understand what’s involved.
Once you’ve written out every step you can think of – regardless of whether you know how to do that step – put them in order of priority.
Step 4: Win tomorrow today
Being able to start your day already knowing what ONE task you will accomplish before the day is over takes the guesswork out of getting started. ~ John Lee Dumas
My plan from 10 feet away: Look at your plan and take the first (or next) step necessary for you to get one step closer to your goal; make that the ONE task you’ll accomplish tomorrow.
Set a 5 minute timer and document on a sticky note or sheet of paper what ONE task you will accomplish tomorrow.
Put it on your keyboard so it’s the first thing you see when you get to your desk.
Step 5: Take action
You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. ~ Zig Ziglar
My plan from 5 feet away: You know exactly what your ONE task is for the day – all that’s left is for you to take action.
Sit down at your computer and commit to doing what you said you would do.
Set a 45 minute timer and TAKE ACTION.
If you get stuck, do NOT use “I got stuck” as an excuse to stop making progress.
Be resourceful and do NOT accept whatever is standing in your way as the end; figure out a way to get around it.
Step 6: Let’s hang out
You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own. ~ Mark Victor Hansen
My plan from 1 foot away: Now that we’re at my desk together, allow me to be straight up: at this point you’ve either chosen to be productive, or not.
What did you accomplish during the 45 minutes you set aside to work on your ONE goal for today?
If you realized that you need more time, came up against a roadblock you didn’t expect, or you found out there’s actually a different step that needs to happen before you can accomplish what you set out to do, then correct course and keep moving forward.
This is not rocket science.
The plan above is incredibly simple, and I just gave you every single step.
This is a “rinse and repeat” strategy that never changes, which is great news because it means we now know what it means to be productive – and more importantly, how to be productive.
Towards the end of each month, or every 30-ish days, I like to spot check my goals just to be sure I’m on track.
- Acknowledging my goals and pivoting or adjusting based on my current reality;
- Re-evaluating what my top priority should be based on my goals;
- Looking at what I’ve done in the past 30 days to help myself get closer to accomplishing my goals; and finally,
- Writing out lessons learned and how I’ll avoid any roadblocks or challenges moving forward that I’ve faced over the past 30 days.
We should all strive to continuously improve every single day.
Be better today than you were yesterday, and you’ve already won.
If there’s a step in the process above that doesn’t work for you – or you find that adding in an additional step helps you master productivity in your own way – then do it.
There are no set rules, and you cannot go wrong testing different things out.
The Mastery Journal
If you’re ready to start accomplishing tasks that matter to you and your business in an efficient manner, then head over to TheMasteryJournal.com for your own physical copy of The Mastery Journal.
The Mastery Journal is your daily guide to mastering productivity, discipline and focus in 100 days.