Thanks to this digital age we live in, staying on task and avoiding distractions is one of the biggest challenges of our day. I can personally say that over the past year, the meaning of productivity and time management was redefined when I was faced with the responsibilities of Church planting; managing different ministry areas; mentoring people; studying for my life coaching certification; trying to finish the first draft for my first book; and training for my premarital counseling certification all the while building my own marriage.
Regardless of what our occupation or status is, we all desire or pursue productivity. However, our obsession with productivity has led us to some misconceptions about what it really is, and how it can be accomplished. Having excessive amount of coffee and a nice planner filled with lists you can check off for the day, won’t get you productivity. But developing the following 6 habits certainly is a start.
START YOUR MORNING WITH FOCUSING ON YOURSELF
This was a major one for me. I would wake up and immediately be so overwhelmed with all that I had to do that I would submerge myself in everything at once. Very quickly I learned that how you start your morning will dictate your mood and energy levels for the rest of your day.
CREATE AND PRIORITIZE YOUR LIST FOR THE DAY
Create a list of no more than 5 tasks per day, and number it from 1-5 to indicate what’s highly important, versus what is least important for that day. I don’t recommend having more than 5 items on your to-do list and here’s why. When you begin to pack out your day with tasks the focus will shift from doing each thing well to simply trying to get as much on that list done in 8 hours.
FOLLOW THE 80/20 RULE
Only 20 percent of what you do each day produces 80 percent of your results.
TACKLE YOUR CHALLENGING TASKS BEFORE LUNCH
One thing I learned over the past year is that your golden hours of productivity are during the mornings. If not the whole morning, take the first 90 minutes of your day and dedicate that to your most important tasks.
BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU SAY ‘YES’ TO
Various needs will arise throughout the day. Last minute meetings will come up. People will call for different needs, or you will be faced with certain unexpected demands. You don’t have to say ‘yes’ to everything. Learn to say ‘no.’ You don’t have to give every bit of your time to everything and everyone else. Granted, some days sacrifices may be needed. However, don’t let that be the norm. Learn to protect your time by prioritizing and being mindful what you say ‘yes’ to. If it’s not an emergency, it can be scheduled.
TAKE BREAKS THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY
Mental breaks are necessary. Since your brain has used up its glucose, give yourself a moment to refresh by going for a walk; grabbing lunch or a snack; a power nap, or just meditating. You’ll come back recharged and ready to achieve greater efficiency.
Remember to be gracious to yourself. Finding a pattern or a system that works for you will take time, and that’s ok. It’s part of growth. Don’t be easily frustrated with yourself. Be intentional. Take one day at a time, and pay careful attention to the things you invest your time and energy into.