by Marilyn Rogers
Have you observed that “busyness” seems to be in fashion? Do you notice that those with the most to do are placed upon a pedestal and given a generous pat on the back when they leave the office at 10:00 p.m. night after night? When was the last time you ran into a friend by chance at the local coffee shop, and she “penciled you in” with her smartphone for lunch in fall of 2015? Does this leave you with the fallacious impression, “Wow, she must be important!”
Well, here’s the skinny. “busyness” is SO last year. Productivity gurus are buzzing about getting real and meaningful things done, rather than filling every moment of the day with pointless activity. Busyness can burn you out. Busyness can increase your blood pressure. Busyness can hurt your relationships. Busyness is an old friend who takes, but never gives.
What’s the difference between “busyness” and “productivity?” Busyness is a condition of being actively engaged in activities or “appearing” to be actively engaged. “Productivity” implies that you’re producing meaningful results — moving you towards you’re strategic goals. Productivity is popular. Everyone is looking for the magic productivity pill through technology, apps, and methodologies to maximize and make better use of their time.
If you’re feeling like a hamster on a wheel — spinning and spinning, but never getting anywhere, consider the six tips below to help you escape and move forward.
1. Write Down Your Short Term and Long Term Goals
Goals are principles that guide you when making decisions. The act of recording your goals offers you understanding of what’s significant so you can let the smaller, less strategic initiatives slide. Goals help you visualize what you want to do and when to get there. Did you start a new business and you want to be profitable by 2015? Write it down. Do you want to lose 5 pounds in 30 days? Write it down. Do you want your kids to learn to play the piano? Write it down. When you’re finished — prioritize.
2. Make a Life Plan to Reach Your Goals
After you complete recording your goals, create objectives. Objectives are more concrete and measurable than goals. Think like a kick-butt project manager and build a project plan for life and business. Make yourself accountable. Measure your progress. Adjust your plan when necessary.
3. Learn That Downtime is Your BFF
Don’t feel guilty when you enjoy your spare time. It’s not necessary to fill your free time with pointless activity that won’t help you attain your top goals. Have the courage to schedule downtime on your calendar. Fill your downtime to the brim with your most pleasurable activities — the things that excite and exhilarate you. Watch your kids — notice that they’re delighted and fascinated by the simplest things, a butterfly, an ice cream cone, a best friend. Find your childhood joy and recharge your batteries so you can take on the world — or at least the state of Texas.
4. Take Care of Your Health
It’s important to eat a well-balanced diet to maintain a favorable mental capacity. Studies show that skipping meals, eating fatty foods, and drinking too much alcohol (aka Cosmos) can result in reduced productivity. You’ll be more efficient when you take the time to plan well-balanced meals each week. Reduce the temptation to eat out by stocking your fridge with healthy foods and easy-to-make dishes.
A healthy body can make you into a productivity machine. Find a gym buddy and schedule time on your calendar to exercise. Trade in your Friday happy hour with a workout. Studies show that even 30 minutes of exercise each day can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
5. Ditch the Commute
This is a life lesson I learned the hard way. If you’re anything like me, you’re enticed by that big, beautiful house in the suburbs with its massive master closet, which works perfectly for your astonishing shoe collection. But there’s a catch. It’s an hour commute to your office or client base. This is one case that size really doesn’t matter. If you need to downsize to be closer to work, it’s worth the sacrifice in the long term. Think about what you can do with an extra 90 minutes each day — the gym, client calls, time with family? It adds up.
6. Dress the Part — Even When Working at Home
This advice might appear unexpected, but yes, it’s fact. Those who look productive FEEL productive. It’s a state of mind. Keeping a professional routine gets you in motion for work and helps you focus.
If you have a home business or you work from home, take the time to change out of your pajamas. It’s not necessary to put on a power suit, but anything with a drawstring will just not do. You never know when there might be an unexpected video call from a client or you’re required to spontaneously meet with a customer. Not being prepared wastes your time — not to mention it’s a bit embarrassing.
What do you think? What are your strategies for life efficiency and productivity? Please comment!
Marilyn Rogers is the Marketing Director and Blog Editor at LightArrow, Inc. makers of apps for personal organization and business productivity — including the popular LifeTopix app. She’s been writing everything from technical manuals to website copy in the tech industry for over 20 years, and considers herself a jack of all trades in Marketing. Her expertise is focused on Personal Productivity, Search Engine Optimization, Marketing Operations, and Project Management. On the weekend, you’ll find her riding horses, walking dogs, wine tasting, and making lists and checking them twice. Find her on Twitter @Marilynsrogers and @LightArrowInc.