5 Ways to be More Productive

blog post by Stev Stegner

Have you ever wondered what happened to your day or your weekend? Time just seems to fly by and things don’t seem to get done.

Here are 5 ways for you to be more productive in your work and home life. Have you ever heard if you want something done, give it to the busiest person…this makes sense when you realize they are focused on getting tasks done! 

Without a plan of attack, the time to complete any task will stretch to the time you have available.  Meaning, a one-hour task will take you three hours if you let it. 
1.Make a “To Do List”.  I make a To Do List every day, even on weekends. My list consists of short-term things to do like pick up water for the office and call the plumber. The list also consists of mid range things that need to be done like planning a Spring vacation and long-range plans like landscaping around the house and building a patio. I find satisfaction in crossing things off my To Do List! Ongoing commitments like going to the club at 7 am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and my weekly lunch with some buddies is on my list, too. I keep my things to do list and my calendar side by side.

I make a list for the week, it is broken down to daily tasks/goals. I update my list throughout the day by crossing things off and adding to the list. At the very end of my day, I add to the list as I plan for the next day. When you want to take your Things To Do lists to the next level, put time frames on every task you need to complete. For example, pay and file bills 9 am – 9:45 am

2. Get rid of stuff! Easier said than done.  If you want to increase your productivity, de-clutter your life. I have a super-power!  It is where I throw away (or donate to charity) an item exactly 7 days before I need it (aargh). Even so, decluttering helps you stay focused and increases your free time. Once your life is de-cluttered, you won’t be wasting time looking for that item you know you have! You will know it is gone and move on. I am not perfect at getting rid of stuff; however, my wife is an expert. She keeps my life simple and de-cluttered. There are many ways to determine what needs to go. Maybe start in your bedroom closet or maybe your drawers in the kitchen. If the task seems overwhelming, feel free to simply buy a bigger home.  However, this won’t increase your productivity/efficiency unless you get more organized. 

3. Pay your bills online with your bank. Paying your bills online with your bank account is crazy easy to set up and at my bank, the service is free. You don’t even pay for postage. Many of the household bills are easy to set up on auto-pay. This means you set an amount you pay monthly and the bills get paid without you doing anything. The best part is that tracking the payments at the end of the year is as easy as clicking a button. There are some bills that fluctuate slightly from month to month like electric/gas or phone service. For these bills, my bank is linked to my account at the utility company and the bank notifies me of the amount due and I make a click or two to pay the bill. No more filing old invoices or paperwork. For the record, I am not giving tax advise, record keeping is an important part of compliance if you are running a business. Personally, I do not keep paperwork from utility companies simply because during a possible tax audit, I can call my utility company and they will electronically send me any invoices I need. 

Running a million-dollar business with only electronic checks is easy. Everything I need is stored at the bank. A vendor asks about a payment in June of last year, a couple clicks and I can have a copy of the electronic check that was sent by the bank and a copy of the back of the check to show it was endorsed by the vendor.  My wife could not mentally move to electronic banking for her company for many years. I would bring it up from time to time until she took the plunge. It was life changing for her! Of course, whether you are running a household or a business, you can deposit checks remotely from your phone or other devices. It is easy, safe and convenient. You might even save a few bucks since some companies pay you a few dollars if they do not have to process a paper statement and you save a stamp. 

4.  Set goals!  As a business coach, it is very interesting how many of my clients do not set goals. When I ask them about any goals, they fidget a little, then off the cuff, rattle off a couple things. These are not really goals, these are perhaps a wish list of sorts.  Set clearly defined goals. 

I recommend spending an hour writing out your S.M.A.R.T. goals for the year.
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Monthly I have my clients review the written S.M.A.R.T. goals and make adjustments or add to the goals. The steps needed to accomplish your goals are transferred to your To Do List. My clients are able to easily rattle off their goals because they are constantly working on them. If you don’t have a goal, there is no way to see if you are making any headway. Some of my clients have a goal of reducing their work week to 30 hours while increasing their revenue. Guess what, most of the time, we are able to reduce their hours and increase their revenue. Make more money in less time, that is a recipe for success!

5.  Take care of your mental health.  Take frequent breaks, drink water, go for walks/exercise and get some sun shine on your face. Taking breaks will actually help you be more productive! This is happens in two ways: First, knowing your break is coming up, you may work harder to complete the task at hand. Secondly, you will increase your productivity because your mind needs a break and when you come back to the task at hand, things will fall into place since your mind had time to refresh. Drinking plenty of water helps your entire body work more efficiently, including your brain. Get plenty of rest and develop strong relationships with other people. It is easy to ignore the relationships that matter the most. Try regularly planning a date night with your spouse or significant other. Trust me, your relationships will improve and you will be a happier person.

6.  Bonus secret to being more productive.  Know when you are most productive! Many people know what part of the day they are most productive yet, they do not leverage it to their advantage. If you are more productive at 9 am, schedule those tasks that need your full attention. If after lunch you physically and mentally need a break, find a quiet place for a few minutes to rest or consider doing mundane tasks like deleting emails or listening to voice mails.

Need help being more productive or accountable to your goals, feel free to set up a free consultation where we can help clarify your path toward success.