We all want to be productive and effective in bringing about the desired results in all of the various areas of our lives. Today, I’m sharing four habits that will increase productivity as it relates to income-producing work. Whether you’re working from home or working outside of the home (I’ve done both), these habits have helped me the most as I juggled life and work.
1. The habit of planning. Planning is key. Although I plan work like I plan the rest of my life (3-year vision, 1-year vision, 3-month goals, 1-month goals), today I’m focusing on how I plan my weeks and days. The way that I plan is to do a “brain dump” of everything that I need to do for the upcoming week. I usually do this on Fridays, the end of my work week. I’m a paper person, so I take a piece of blank paper and write down everything that I want to accomplish.
It’s very rare that everything on my big list gets put on my actual work calendar. Everything isn’t equally important so I ask myself the following questions:
-What do I absolutely need to do myself?
-What can I delegate to someone else?
-What can I delay/defer (schedule for a later date)? I recently added this question after being introduced to Rory Vaden’s book Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time.
-What can I dump (completely take off my list)?
Next, I take out my calendar and write down which day of the week I will do each of the things on my shortened list. Lastly, at the end of each day, I write out my “to-dos” for the next day in order of priority. Each day has 1 to 3 “musts” and I keep a running list of “maybes” in case I have extra time.
2. The Pomodoro technique method. Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, this involves using a timer to break down your work into segments of work separated by short breaks. Traditionally, it’s a repeated 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break. I prefer to do a 50-minute/10-minute split though. Studies have shown that short breaks can be a helpful way to refresh your brain – keeping you more focused and connected to your goals.. (You can read Buffer’s The Science of Taking Breaks at Work: How to Be More Productive By Changing the Way You Think About Downtime for more information about the power of breaks in general.)
3. The habit of themed workdays: I like to have a structure to my week, so this is how I plan out my work week: Money/Metrics Mondays, T-shirt Tuesdays, Whatever (Special Projects) Wednesdays, Recipe Thursdays, and Follow-up Fridays. I naturally plan that way, so it was great to learn that several business leaders, including Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, follow the same method in order to stay focused and avoid distractions.
-who/what brings me joy (“loved it”, “the BEST”, smiley face)
-who/what brings me pain (“hated it”, “waste of time”, frowny face)
-time discrepancies (I track the amount of time I expected to do something versus the actual time spent doing it.)
In any event, I hope that these habits are helpful. If you have any productivity habits or tips that you think would be helpful, please let me know. Thanks!