Whether you’re a business owner or student, getting productive and staying productive for long periods of time is crucial for meeting your goals. Below are just a few things I do to help me stay on track and getting things done.
The Sunday Routine
I’ve found that my Sunday routine sets me up for success and prevents me from getting distracted during the week. For example:
- Laundry – Getting all of your laundry done, hung and ready to go by Sunday night will prevent you from spending time looking for clothes to wear to meetings, to the gym, office, etc.
- House cleaning – Taking care of all of the cleaning around the house Sunday night will prevent you from having to take time away from your intense work week schedule. Between personal development, work, meetings, working out, and a few brief moments to relax during the week, the last thing you want to do is have to do chores that could have been done already.
- Grocery shopping – Don’t get stuck having to eat out and or eat junk food simply because you didn’t prepare for the inevitable meals you’ll need during the week. Even worse, a few times of eating out can easily exceed what your grocery bill would have been. Furthermore, buying healthy foods that are going to give you the energy and vitality you need to maintain an intense work schedule and stay healthy will play a large part in your success.
- Meal preparation – This is a great way to have lots of healthy meals ready to go. I recommend having plenty of plasticware or glassware to store your meals in. Also, having a list of healthy recipes for quick access can make this a lot easier on yourself. Don’t get me wrong, there will be weeks where you don’t want to meal prep or are just burned out on your recipes. In this case, I recommend having a list of quick healthy foods that won’t take much time to prepare. When this happens to me, I have a list of healthy ready to go foods that I can get from Trader Joe’s.
- Process all emails – Having a clean email inbox when you go to bed Sunday night will make your hectic Monday a little easier, I promise!
- Process your physical in-tray – I don’t know about you, but my physical in-tray can be overflowing after just a week of intense work. Getting this processed Sunday night will ensure that you don’t drop the ball on something important.
- Plan your week – Many success coaches like Darren Hardy talk a lot about planning your week before it starts. Using a task manager like Trello can really help you understand what your work week looks like and help you prioritize tasks to hit your goals.
- Review goals and get your mindset right – If you’re pushing yourself hard every week, you’re going to run into challenges. Taking some time Sunday night to review your goals and listen to your favorite motivational speakers is going to get you in the right state of mind to tackle the week.
- Rest and relaxation – Take comfort in knowing that you’ve set yourself up for a great week now that you’ve tackled your Sunday routine. Get your rest, you’ll need it!
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (GTD Method)
If I could only pick one productivity method, it would be the GTD Method. If you’re not familiar with this method, it’s a way of processing all emails, tasks, text messages, calls, notes, projects, etc. It gives you rules and guidelines for processing anything and everything that comes at you every day. Diving into the details of this method is a bit beyond the scope of this blog post, however, below are a few key points to get you excited about adopting this method as your own.
GTD Method Key Points:
- It gives you strict rules and guidelines for processing all incoming “stuff.”
- The system is flexible and can be adapted to just about any industry or workflow.
- It helps you understand the psychology behind it and gives you some amazing tools and ways to keep tasks and projects moving forward at all times.
- It’s incredibly detailed and leaves no stone unturned. Right down to paper clips, rubber bands, labelers and more! It’s setup much like an instruction manual, so there’s not much guessing.
- It’s got some great documents to help you perform a brain dump and get rid of everything sitting in your mental RAM and sucking your energy.
As I read the book and listened to the audiobook, I followed along and completed the exercises as I went through it. By the time I completed the book, I felt a whole new sense of control over my life, my work, my hobbies, and much more. If you’re serious about productivity, you won’t think twice about purchasing and reading this amazing book! You can purchase it here on Amazon.com.
If you spend a lot of time on your computer, using a tool like RescueTime to monitor the websites and applications you are using is a great way to see just how productive really you are. In short, you install the program on your devices as well as your browsers, then classify how productive each program or website is for you. The program actually does a great job at classifying much of this for you. If you’d like to learn more about this program, I recently did a blog post on RescueTime here.
Getting personal text messages and calls on and off all day is a sure way to ruin your productivity and focus. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve entered a state of flow, I can make amazing progress on projects as hours tick off like minutes. To me, nothing is more frustrating than getting a bunch of personal calls or text messages when I’m in this productive state. I’m not saying you have to ignore them, but just setting aside a specific time in your day to return personal calls and text messages is ideal if you do intensive task based work. Furthermore, returning calls or text messages at a time when you can give your friends and loved ones your full attention will be much more useful than doing so when you’re frustrated or focused on other things.
I also recommend keeping personal time with friends and family for the weekends when possible. Scheduling time for dinner, movie, or whatever else during the week is most likely going to cause you to mentally check out before the day is over. Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, but just be mindful of it and reduce events during weekdays.
I’m not trying to be cold hearted here, but as a business owner that works with lots of other business owners and entrepreneurs, I know the amount of intense work it takes to keep a business healthy and growing. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can work 8-hours a day while trying to start a business.
Use and Master Your Favorite Productivity Tools
I love tools and software that help me stay organized, accountable, and keep tasks and projects on track. My favorite by a long shot is Trello. It’s so simple to use, yet so incredibly powerful. It offers what seems like endless integrations, automation, and even novelties that make it super fun.
The reason I say “use and master your favorite productivity tools” is because I think it’s too easy to start using a new tool or software at a very basic level, which can be incredibly helpful, but actually, create more work than necessary. Really taking the time to learn all that the tool or software can do can easily 10x your productivity levels and keep things on track without much thought. Furthermore, utilizing automation where possible will significantly reduce your workload. Even if the automation only saves you a few seconds per task, it all adds up.
Plan Tomorrow Tonight
At the end of each workday, taking the time to plan what tasks you’ll need to accomplish tomorrow will be key to hitting your deadlines. Here are a few things I do at the end of each day that help me stay on top of everything:
- Add the tasks you need to get done tomorrow to a Trello list with the due date and time. If you’re as diligent as I am with processing your email every day, you could also email them to yourself if you’re in a pinch. A word of caution, adding these tasks to your calendar can be disastrous if you don’t complete them and forget to move them to the next day.
- Set up alarms on your phone for all of the meetings that you have the following day to keep you on time.
- Occasionally, you’ll get into bed and your brain will be holding onto a lot of things you need to get done. In these cases, do not try to remember them, simply open up your email on your phone and do a brain dump. Anything and everything that is on your mind, just list it out really quick and email it to yourself. This generally helps me let go of the thoughts knowing that they are documented and that I can tackle them the next day.
- Set calendar events for things that absolutely must happen at a particular time and/or place. Your calendar should be sacred for these types of things only.
- Although I don’t journal every night, journaling can also be a great way to document things you’ve learned and things that you’d like to keep track of over the long haul. It can also help you overcome obstacles. For example, using Brian Tracy’s 20 ideas method has helped me solve problems I had previously been stuck on. Here’s a video on the 20 ideas method by Brian Tracy.
- Update your sales pipeline and customer relationship management (CRM) system to keep your sales pipeline full.
In actuality, I have a daily checklist that is set up through Trello to email me each day. This checklist has about 30 items on it that I try to get accomplished every day. From working out to reading, to affirmations, to project updates, etc. I recommend creating the same thing for yourself as they can help you spot inconsistencies in your daily routines. Furthermore, I also use these types of checklists for weekly tasks like bookkeeping, sprint meetings, daily planners, and even front facing Trello boards I’ve set up for clients.
These productivity habits have taken me years to refine and implement at the level that I currently do. Even the GTD Method took me at least 6 months to get quite comfortable with, however, I still drop the ball on appending the next action to items. The key is persistence and perseverance to keep your productivity levels on an upward trend.
I’ll leave you with this last thought. Think back to a day where you were incredibly productive, you went into beast mode and accomplished in one day what you thought was going to take a week. Hours ticked off like minutes, you were completely focused and produced top quality work. Where would your life be if you could maintain that kind of focused intensity day in and day out?