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Are you stuck with the feeling of not getting done enough? Is your Todo list growing and growing even though you’re busy all the time? Do you feel burned out and stuck in a rut of doing but not achieving anything? Then you are exactly where I was a couple month ago. But I found the perfect way to increase productivity and help you achieve your goals. And I am going to tell you exactly how in just a bit!
Before I started this little life audit I was hustling super hard, I was busy all the time, and didn’t take one break. Though even though I was working super hard, I neither saw results nor did I feel like I was accomplishing anything. After falling sick for almost a month I decided something has to change. I took an entire month to reflect on my routines, habits and beliefs. I tried to detect all those time wasters, time consumers and procrastination habits. Finally, I developed a strategy, well more a toolkit that prevents me from falling back into unproductive habits. And because this tool kit is improving my life so much I want to share it with you. But first let me tell you exactly how powerful it can be.
It is allowing me to have an entire day of doing anything and 5h a day where I can just enjoy doing fun stuff on all those other 6 days a week while achieving more than I had before. I can finally not feel guilty for taking breaks anymore but instead use them to recharge and achieve even more of the things I set out to do. I achieve more than I’ve achieved before with working less. The feeling of unproductivity and not doing enough is no longer constant companion of every action. My overall work-life balance is so much healthier and I not only achieve my goals but also achieve my spare time activity dreams. Now enough of this though. Let me share this tool kit with you to get you all those benefits too.
In the following I will share my key take aways from that month that hopefully help you to achieve your goals easier. Those are the beliefs, habits and tricks that most impacted my productivity and mental sanity. I will also share with you the most productive habits I’ve build and why they help me so much. And lastly I give your insight into my new productive routine that should inspire you to come up with your own. Before we get started though, let me tell you a few general tips on how you can do your own life audit.
1) Consistency is key. In general I can just recommend to frequently do a life audit, where you analyse and reflect on your current routines and habits. Probably the most important insight I made during this month was to detect those destructive habits rather earlier than later.
2) Be patient and practice. If you do a life audit, take your time. It needs some practice and patience to find your flow with reflecting on your habits and routines. You’re about to detect some limiting beliefs and routines you’ve probably followed for a long time. So be patient if it takes some time to dissolve them or truly admit they are holding you back.
4) There is no one fits all. While you are reading this post, remember that what works for me might not work for you. So, don’t take my advice here as non-plus ultra. Rather take it as an inspiration. Test out those habits, if they work for you then keep them. if you feel like they are not making you more productive then drop them and find something else.
5) Productivity is not about getting more done. Productivity is about getting more of the right stuff done. When it comes to that exercise then less is definitely more. We do not want to free up more time to spend it on more work. We want to improve our working habits so we have more free time to spend it on non-working activities. So the first thing I recommend you to do is to limit your work time. Set boundaries like I did with the 5h work/5h free time and one day off work a week. And then see how much work you can get done in those 5h.
P.S: It’s normal to fear not dedicating enough time to your business and therefore having a 10h work/1h free time policy. However, let me tell you less really is more. Just try it out and see what you can get done in less time. You’d be surprised what focusing can do. If it still is to little work time, you can always increase it again. But I’d bet you don’t have to once you follow my next tip.
6) Effectivity is not efficiency. Effective working is not efficient working. Just because you are super-efficient with your time and get a lot done in little time, doesn’t mean you are productive. Like above mentioned, productivity is about effectivity. Which means getting as much of those things done that really bring you further. So, focus on what brings you the most revenue. It’s all about focusing on the 20% tasks that bring you 80% of your wins. Detect time wasters and time consumers and limit them to a minimum or remove them all together. Then take the 20% actions that bring you the farthest towards your goals and focus on doing them in the time frame you set above.
P.S. You can apply that 80/20 rule to almost any area of your life. Just try it and focus on the 20% people that bring you the most joy. Or remove the 20% people who bring you the most unhappiness from your life and see what happens.
Now let’s get a little more in detail though.
There are 5 key things I’ve learned about productive working and achieving goals during my life audit and that’s the following:
If you tend to overwork then it is definitely better to define your success by “showing up” rather than by how much you’ve worked. Reward yourself for having done something and do not measure how good or bad it was done. Usually as a high achiever you work a lot any way so it doesn’t hurt you to cut back on your motivation. It takes away a lot of pressure.
The probably most important message. If you believe you can do everything that is important, note the stress on important, in less time, then it can be done! It’s all about the focus.
Key thing if you want to stay focused and achieve your goals, is to cut out all your distractions. Turn off your phone while you are working, block all notifications and note all the thoughts that you have while you are working that do not relate to the current task in a notebook and process them later.
Like bravely touched on earlier. When it comes to achieving your goals more does not equal better. So, resist the tempt to work more if you have the feeling of not being productive. Rather focus on why you are not productive and how you can change your actions to be.
The goal with this exercise is of course not to not do anything goal oriented anymore or to reduce all the work stuff. Too much free time is also not healthy. If you have too much free time you might get bored and not achieve anything as well. So when setting the work policy above, find a healthy balance and remember: all things in excess become their opposite, even if it’s good things like free time.
During those past months, I’ve developed a lot of new habits. But I found the following especially helpful when it comes to my productivity. So, let’s see if there are a few that work for you too and potentially help you achieve your goals.
Every request from another person is a demand on your time, energy or money. So, choose wisely whether you want to make that investment or not. Same goes for yourself though. Especially when it comes to working more say no to yourself more often!
If you are like me and are a little obsessed with your calendar then it might be a good habit to just schedule the next day or couple days instead of scheduling two months in advance.
If you are not familiar with MITs here’s a quick introduction. MITs are your most important tasks, those are the tasks that will bring you the furthest towards your goals. So those are the tasks you want to focus on most. Those are the tasks you want to get done every day, no matter what. I found doing them in the morning ensures that I get them done. As soon as it gets afternoon or evening I am either to lazy or too caught up in other stuff. You never know what is going to happen later that day, so get them done rather earlier to make sure you achieve your goals.
Writing your current goals on a paper and pinning it somewhere is such a great reminder to keep you focused on what is really important. There are so many new dreams and ideas that we want to pursuit that we sometimes forget to focus on those things we are currently working on. So, write them down and write your MITs next to them so you know what has priority at this moment. All the other dreams can wait until their time has come
Give your mind a break. Dedicate an hour a day (or less if you can’t spare an hour) and do nothing. Don’t even think. Meditate instead and let your mind rest. You’d be surprised how much fresher and more focused it is after. To stay on track with your happy moments and mindfulness I have the created some amazing present reminders for all of us. Check them out and see if there’s one you like.
If you are not fit and healthy then every effort in the world won’t help you to achieve your dreams. You need to be in physical good shape to perform and give 100% when it comes to your dreams. So, watch out for your health. Sleep enough, eat healthy but don’t obsess about it, exercise but also give yourself some breaks.
Lastly, let me show you some excerpts of my current routine.
My day usually starts at 6AM. Then I have about 1.5h to get started, Meditate, have breakfast and do my MITs. Depending on how long your MITs take you might need more time here. After that, if possible I surf or work out to get the exercise in for the day. Like mentioned above, I work 5h. I try do work in the mornings rather than the afternoons but most of the time I spit it up. Two in the morning, then an hour of lunch break and three in the afternoon. I found splitting them up in more than two session however is making me unproductive again because I don’t have enough time to focus. Out of the other 5h of free time, I spend 1h on nothing. It’s my relaxing time where I just give my body and mind a break. My day ends between 7 and 7.30 PM. Then I have enough time to cook, eat, chill and go to bed early.
Sundays are always off work. I also like to do a regular electronic detox ever second or third Sunday to make sure I spend my free time on other activities that do not involve my phone or laptop as well. I also do regular consuming detoxes. Those are times where I just don’t consume anything. I don’t read, listen to podcasts or similar. That is perfect to give my mind the time it needs to come up with its own ideas.
Finally, I perform an 80/20 analysis every second week, where I reflect on those 20% that bring 80% of my revenue in all areas of my life and then remove the rest. In addition, I have 3 Self-discovery sessions a week. That’s one 1h of my work time that I dedicate to reflecting on my life, my habits, my routines and my beliefs. That way I can detect destructive patterns as soon as they manifest and remove them before they can have too much of a bad impact.
That’s it. Before you go, let me say one thing. Increasing productivity is nothing that happens overnight. Be patient and consistent on this journey and you will see results.
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