“It is not enough to be busy… The question is: what are we busy about?” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Do you stifle a yawn when you read the word “Productivity”? Does it conjure up images of paperwork, spreadsheets, being endlessly busy? Or does the word send a shiver down your spine and remind you of all those unfinished projects, unchecked to-do lists, and unmet deadlines?
I googled ‘Productivity + Sexy’ and almost nothing came up, except for a few articles suggesting that having a great sex life can boost your productivity. Interesting! But that’s not what we are discussing here.
Instead, in this article, my goal is to change your mindset about productivity. I want to interrupt your current thinking, shake things up, and make you feel excited by the idea of mastering a purposefully productive mindset.
My aim is to help you to see that productivity is sexy because when you are purposeful with your productivity, you actually get to…Do more of what light’s you up, inspires and energises youHave a bigger impact and serve the world in more meaningful waysFeel like a rock star because you’re kicking so many massive goalsBe more intentional in everything you do, and enjoy every moment of lifeSpend more time on the things that really matter to you, and less time being busy
Doesn’t that sound just a little bit sexy?? Hopefully that makes you wanna cuddle up and embrace productivity just a little bit more…😉
Why am I am super passionate about coaching and cajoling you to maximise your productivity?
…Because your sweet life is precious, and your time on this planet is finite…
Blah, Blah…Time Is Precious
I know you’ve heard this before: Time is your most precious resource.
We all have the same 24-hours each day and none of us knows how many days we have left. Therefore, how you spend your time is super important. Because each moment adds up to your life, your character, destiny and your legacy.
Are you 100% certain you are spending your time on the most meaningful things you can? If you are, great, stop reading this now and get on with it my friend. And if not, then maybe this article can create an important shift in your thinking…
Firstly, consider this:
If you knew you had 12-months left to live, what would you change? What would you start doing immediately?
I’m giving you 12-months, because that’s long enough to have an impact, do something meaningful, and create a legacy that lasts after your last breath.
What was the first thing that came to mind? And the second and third?
Stop reading, grab a pen and get some thoughts down real quick.
This is important. Do it!
And now, what would you stop doing immediately?
Write at least 3 things down.
Finally, observe how you feel after writing those few things down?
Perhaps there’s a bit more fire in your belly? A little extra focus? Is your heart beating a touch faster? Can you feel the blood flowing to your legs, readying you for action?
If yes, then you’ve nailed this exercise and you’re getting a physical feel for purposeful productivity.
And if not? Keep searching – it’s inside you.
Seriously, getting purposeful with your productivity will give you the power to extract more goodness from every moment of this life you’ve been given.
And that is sexy!
It’s only in recent years that I’ve started trying to master productivity. When I was first in business, even though I became successful, I never gave productivity a second thought…
Productivity just wasn’t something I consciously considered. I certainly didn’t think it was sexy – I just focused on getting things done… (not the same thing!!)
…and that seemed to work pretty well for me…
I enjoyed being busy, and I was deeply passionate about my work…
The results I achieved were great, but I didn’t realise how my lack of knowledge was holding me back…
…I was leaving a lot on the table, as the saying goes.
No one explained to me back then, that I could be more purposeful with my time, and that this would enable me to generate even bigger results, and impact the lives of even more people.
I was naive and I equated being busy with being successful; the busier I became the more successful I felt. But time is a finite resource, so my success was capped by the ceiling of my capacity for busy work.
And I became more successful, I began to realise that I wasn’t managing work…work was managing me! Sure, I loved my job, but work was taking up more and more time, so my work-life balance started to go out the window.
At the time I had dreams of being even more successful, however, I couldn’t see how I could manage more work, since I was already reaching my limits of productivity…and that’s when I began to feel trapped, frustrated and overwhelmed.
Maybe you can relate?
You want more success, but you’re already working full-out?
Something has to give…and it might be you!
“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.”
~ Francine Jay
Doing Productivity Wrong…and Right!
We need purposeful productivity today more than ever, because life is so full.
There are so many deadlines, demands and distractions. And equally, life is full of opportunity, adventure and information.
Life is constantly pulling us in so many directions, it’s easy to lose touch with what really matters and focus on the wrong things.
This is when you can start to feel that your work-life balance is out of whack. You work hard, but by the end of the day, week or month, you still don’t feel like you are progressing what truly matters.
The fullness of life, can also mean you start to neglect the things that don’t shout for your attention. You make progress on urgent work projects, but your health, relationship or family-life suffer.
Without noticing, you start neglecting the things that keep you energised and fulfilled, and that quickly degrades your sense of joy, passion and enthusiasm. You feel that you are just going through the motions, and that soon leads to apathy, exhaustion, and burnout.
On the surface, you are still successful; your career or business are likely still operating at a high level. But you’re starting to lose the passion, the connection, the joy.
Your fuel tank is getting low – and you’re not exactly sure how to refill it.
This is where purposeful productivity can make a massive difference for you.
This mini-crisis is an opportunity to start getting more intentional about your efforts. It’s where you can seize the reigns and start placing demands on life to support you, as opposed to allowing life to place ever-increasing demands on you.
You gotta believe that it’s absolutely achievable to refine your practices and develop a clear strategy, so you can work smarter not harder.
A Mindset Shift
After my health crisis, I started to approach all this productivity stuff much more consciously. Instead of accepting “busyness” as a way of life, I decided to consciously choose how I wanted my life to look. I started to see productivity as an art form; something that could support me – not just to reach my professional goals, but to be happier, healthier, wealthier and more fulfilled.
So, I studied productivity to get ideas and learn new skills. I experimented with different productivity apps. Gradually, I began to piece together a system that felt good for me. It’s still evolving, but I’m committed to keep refining my systems to get the best results.
I used my mini-career break as an opportunity to start fresh. I knew that if I wanted to take my business to the next level, I had to master productivity and still make time for my self-care strategies. Otherwise, I would not be able to sustain the effort over the long-term. Running a successful business whilst maintaining work-life balance, takes a lot of focus, energy and attention.
At this point, I think its important to stress that what productivity looks like for you may be very different than what it looks like for me. It’s highly individual. So, whilst you may use this article to inform your practices, certainly don’t take it as gospel or interpret this as rules that you are bound by.
What I want to encourage here is for you to investigate this area of your life more mindfully, so you can find what works for you. That means being prepared to look closely at what is NOT working right now, and enter into a conscious process of figuring out what does work for you.
Unpacking Purposeful Productivity
So, you can probably tell, I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic, and here’s what I have come to recognise:
Being purposeful about productivity means two things:
1. Doing the things you need to be doing more masterfully and;
2. Knowing the big reasons behind everything you are doing.
Let’s break these down a bit more:
1. Doing Things More Masterfully
Essentially, this step is about going from what’s called ‘Unconscious Incompetence’ to something called ‘Unconscious Competence’.
In short, that means we go from not knowing how little we know about something, to knowing it so well that we don’t even have to think about doing it skilfully*.
For me this started when I decided productivity was sexy, and that mastering it could change my life. Someone challenged me to believe that my happiness, fulfilment and success depended on it, just as I am doing with you right now…
So, I started taking it seriously and basically, I decided to learn everything I could to excel at being truly productive. By no means have I mastered productivity, but I’m getting better at it all the time…and if I can, then so can you!
The important thing to recognise here is that it’s a sacrifice up front for long term gain: you will have to make time to figure this out – but those efforts will save you so much time down the track.
Some examples of how I am becoming more masterful include: doing “deep work” for focused 45-minute periods; using a Pomodoro timer for focused sessions; limiting all distractions when I am working; having more regular mini-breaks, sleeping longer, meditating more often; exercising and watching comedy in my breaks.
All these things are science-backed ways to get more done and still maintain energy, focus and joy.
*This process of going from Unconscious Incompetence to Unconscious Competence is also known as the 4 Quadrants of Learning. Email me if you’d like more info…
2. Knowing the Reasons for Everything You Do
Purposeful productivity demands that you investigate your reasons for doing everything you do. Without a clear ‘WHY’ driving each of your actions, it will be easy to fall into one or more of these productivity traps:
1. Directionless – when you are just drifting from one thing to the next with no plan
2. Distracted – where you lack clarity so are easily distracted by external forces
3. Detailed – when you spend too much time in your head and no time taking action
4. Driven – where you favour obsessive doing over up-front planning
A couple of things happen when you get clear on your big why – a lot of unimportant shit drops away, and those things that remain become imbued with more energy and power.
If you participated in the ‘12-months left to live’ activity at the start of this article, you would have felt clarity carving through your life like a big knife. Questions like that help you to sort the wheat from the chaff and achieve more.
You master productivity by doing less of what doesn’t matter, more of what truly does matter, and doing the things that do matter with more love, focus and attention.
It takes time, energy and effort to unpack and become more purposefully productive. But once again, this initial output will pay you back handsomely down the track, so I encourage you to make the effort.
Some ways I have become more purposeful include: creating a clear vision for each of the 12 areas of my life; setting intentions when I step into new situations; visualising my success before I even begin; focusing on my most important task as soon as I start working; scheduling my entire week in advance; reviewing my week very Sunday.
35 Simple Strategies To Achieve Purposeful Productivity
So, now let me give you some simple, practical and actionable strategies to ramp up the productivity in your life. As you read, I want you to circle 5 things on this list that speak to you:
1. Find your highest service – the big reason why
2. Create clear goals for your personal and professional life and review them weekly
3. Write down what you will achieve in the next 12 months
4. Know what things you want to start doing or do more often
5. Decide what things you want to stop doing or do less often
6. Determine the specific outcomes you want to achieve
7. Have a clear picture of the person you want to become
8. Plan what you will achieve each day
9. Prepare for undesirable obstacles and challenges each day
10. Determine your most important task each day and do that first
11. Increase your commitment to complete your most important task
12. Check your attitude is positive
13. Adopt a growth mindset
14. Choose the best time of day to complete this task
15. Block out sufficient time in your calendar to complete this task
16. Create an environment that supports your productivity
17. Remove all distractions from that environment
18. Make it clear that you do not wish to be interrupted
19. Practice daily meditation to increase your clarity, focus and energy
20. Take regular breaks (of 5-15 minutes) to maintain your clarity, focus and energy
21. Check social media/emails at scheduled times, not when on breaks
22. Set clear intentions for every unique part of your day
23. Establish clear deadlines to motivate you and keep you accountable
24. Find an accountability partner to ensure you stick to your goals
25. Do not try to multitask for important tasks
And the final ten are…
26. Determine which tasks can be multi-tasked effectively
27. Batch similar tasks and do them together
28. Chunk your projects and goals down into manageable steps
29. Make use of gaps of time by getting small jobs done, moving or meditating
30. Ask for support to reach goals faster
31. Do more of the things that make you feel happier and more energised
32. Stop doing things that depress or deplete you
33. Reward yourself for completing your tasks and reaching your goals
34. Use a Pomodoro timer to work in focused blocks of time (I recommend the free Be Focused app)
35. Create a to-do list and check off complete tasks
Now write down the 5 things you circled, and try to incorporate them into your life in the coming week.
Purposeful Productivity Ain’t Rocket Science
You can see from these examples, that getting more purposeful doesn’t have to be super complicated. But changes do need to be meaningful, helpful and well thought through…
I was recently working with a father who been going through some big career challenges, and those challenges had begun to impact the quality of his family life. Just by getting more intentional about those precious minutes in the car with his kids on the way to school, he created the connection he was missing, which led to more happiness and a greater sense of work-life balance.
I encouraged a powerhouse CEO to adopt mini-meditation breaks and a short physical stretch routine between tasks to maintain energy and focus on intensely long days building her business.
A few months back, I taught a young woman how to set clear intentions. She used these prior to meetings and networking events and felt immediately calmer, more confident and more connected in those spaces which enabled her to build relationships, get support, and learn more from each event.
There are two fun strategies I use in my own life: dancing and laughing. Both movement and laughter have been found to increase productivity, perhaps because they energise the body, increase dopamine and are therefore inherently rewarding!! I suggest that you try to break up your focused work-time with dance breaks and comedic relief.
Purposeful productivity can make a massive difference to your life. It can help you do more of the stuff that really matters, and allow you the time and energy to enjoy more of the things you desire with the people you love.
Purposeful productivity is essentially about mastering the skills of being productive and maximising the meaning behind all your efforts – whether in work or personal arenas.
It will take some effort to research and establish some new strategies and clarify your purpose – but it will save you time, increase your focus, give you longer lasting energy and attention, and create a greater sense of balance in the long term.
My intention for you is that you get hooked by the productivity bug, as I have – not because productivity is exciting it’s own right – but because of what it can help you achieve in your life.
Finally, I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and that you have had a little mindset shift; I hope you’re starting to think about this topic in a fresh, new way. If you have found this information helpful, consider sharing it on social media or with friends, loved ones and colleagues.
Also, don’t forget to leave a comment below. Tell me about your mindset shifts, your favourite new hacks, or share your own purposeful productivity hacks with this community…