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9 Rituals of Personal Productivity to Help Your Day Go Brilliantly

Personal productivity is the process of completing tasks in a way that:

  • moves you more quickly toward your goals;
  • helps you feel satisfied and highly capable.

Among life’s best sensations is that feeling of joyful accomplishment at the end of a successful day of personal productivity.

See the motivational video lower within this article to help you get started.

Becoming a Highly Productive Person

The person who succeeds at productivity these days is usually the one who can apply well-chosen strategies – mitigating distractions to stay focused and in the flow.

We all have tasks we would like to complete before the end of the week, yet daily life is rife with potential distractions that can implode your personal productivity and turn your day into a scattered mess.

Everybody falls off the productivity horse every now and then.

These nine hacks listed below will help you climb back on the productivity horse – and in all likelihood will help you get more done than ever before.

1. Beware of Drift, Autopilot, and Firefighting

If you sometimes feel overwhelmed – or find yourself wishing that you could clone yourself or magically add more hours to each day – then there are three assassins that you must remain ever-vigilant to avoid.

If you can consistently avoid these three pesky demons, then you will be well on your way to living more efficiently – so that when you have free time, you can really enjoy it.

Drift is a Productivity Danger Zone

Drift is what occurs when each morning you don’t take a moment to refocus on what your next main goal is in life.

Each day that you don’t reconnect with, and affirm, what your big intention is, then you silently move away from it, often without even realizing what’s happening.

organized, tidy home office

Imagine yourself in a rowboat on the ocean, and you see an island of paradise in the distance.  Every now and then you have to steer the boat, using one of the oars as a rudder – because the current of everyday life takes you off course.

Autopilot is a Productivity Danger Zone

Autopilot is what occurs when we act unconsciously, following the same mental and physical routine that we’ve been doing, essentially for years.

This is great if you don’t want to change anything. But what if you have ambitions?

It’s a sort of muscle memory.  Have you ever arrived home from work, and then realized that you don’t even remember driving there? What’s more, you were supposed to stop by the store on the way home.  

That’s autopilot.

If you have a new destination in life, then the way you’re going to arrive there is if you remember to periodically turn off the autopilot and pay attention to the drive.

Firefighting is a Productivity Danger Zone

Firefighting is what happens when you react to your day.

Your day becomes a series of responding to little fires, instead of being proactive with your agenda.

When your daughter yells, “Mom, where are my sneakers?” (and she will), then hopefully you have already modeled for her the self-soothing skills to pause, breathe, relax, concentrate… and find the sneakers herself.  

Don’t get sucked into other people’s little fires and urgencies.

Sometimes you just have to let something “burn” and get to it later, so that you can remain focused on the larger objective or project.

2. Reconnect with Your List

Many people get rebellious about keeping a current list of tasks that need completing.

I encourage you to stop rebelling and instead accept that to get the most out of your personal productivity process, you’ll benefit greatly by having a to-do list and referencing it often.

 

Stay properly engaged with your to-do list and it will help you manage your time and energy even better.

You’re allowed to take a day off when you feel like it – that’s healthy. You can even take two days off; however, try to re-engage with your list within 48 hours.

Mastering your personal productivity system requires some degree of consistency. If you go more than two days without your to-do list, you’ll find it harder to get back into your productivity system.

You want to keep yourself in the game. You don’t want to develop any unhelpful productivity habits that you’ll just have to struggle to break.

productivity checklist – feel good ticking every box

3. Remember Why You Arrived Here

It’s extremely helpful to remember the reasons you chose to get organized in the first place.

If you don’t feel like picking up your list, remind yourself why you started the list.

4. Productivity Tools Are Nerdy Fun. Find the Ones that Work Best For You.

The best gadgets help you to improve your personal productivity. If you happened to see George Clooney in the film Up In The Air, then you might already know that Clooney portrayed a character who professionally is a great success and über-organized. He has his workflow down to an exact science, and he knows a good gadget when he sees one.

Productivity tools are nerdy fun. I encourage you to find the particular tools that work uniquely best for you.

For example, my portable office contains:

  • Anti-bacterial towelettes to sterilize the armrests on my favorite chair at the cafe (you’d be shocked to know how dirty and germy those can be).
  • Soundproof headphones to wash out background noise (I often listen to rainymood.com while I work to help me focus. It’s just the sound of a soft rain – I’m listening to it now, in fact).

Like Bingham, I’ve learned that particular gadgets and tools can help create a better and faster workflow.

I’ve found it helpful to have something like a portable office that I can roll with me from home, to meetings, to the cafe, to the airport, to… wherever. I use a stackable system from Tumi.

The top half is a smaller daypack that slides right up and off, so that I can grab my wallet, sunglasses, keys, phone, etc. The bottom half is for my papers, clipboards, and laptop.

But you don’t need a fancy Tumi system. Just choose tools – big or small – that help you get work done and make it more enjoyable.

5. Avoid Your Own Obstacles

Let’s say you’ve firmly decided that you want to become a more productive and accomplished person.

Now have a brief conversation with your inner-saboteur, asking yourself: “if I were to get in my own way, how would I typically do it?”

If there is a stumbling block that discourages you from getting on with your to-do list system then use that clever brain of yours to find a way to overcome it.

For example, on Monday mornings I would sometimes find myself too busy to revise my list and print out a new copy.

To overcome this I now print a new list for the following week on Friday late afternoon. This allows me to dive right in on Monday morning.

Obstacle removed.

You know yourself and you know your own weaknesses. This is good because it means you can anticipate those weaknesses before they have a chance to settle in.

elegant senior couple embracing on beach after improving productivity

6. Understand that Building a Habit Takes Time

Forming a good habit (like keeping a to-do list) is a lot like building muscle. It takes practice. If you stop for too long the muscle shrinks or disappears.

Research has established that building a good habit takes up to 66 days.

7. “Stack” Good Habits

Have you ever desired to make an improvement in your weekly habits, but then fizzled out?

Sometimes, acquiring new little good habits seem almost as difficult as learning new big ones.

What was the last thing about yourself that you tried to change? For example, maybe you want to:

What has been well-researched (yet little-known) is that when people acquire new good habits, it’s most often because they move through five stages of permanent change.

How people change has been relentlessly studied (see sources below this article), and by being careful to move through each of five distinct stages – without skipping any – you can succeed in developing new good habits and become a master of personal productivity.

personal productivity hacks

Stages of Permanent Change

  1. pre-contemplation
  2. contemplation
  3. preparation
  4. action
  5. maintenance

When people are not able to make changes stick, it has been proven that it’s most often because they skip over stage 3, preparation.

What Happens During Stage Three

Stage 3 is preparation. Preparation means spending some time processing:

  • how will I adopt this new habit?
  • when will I do it, specifically?
  • where will I do it?
  • with whom will I hold myself accountable?
  • for what real reason am I doing this?
  • if I were to get in my own way, how would I do it?

Have you ever “skipped” stage 3 and excitedly moved right into action? Were you able to sustain the habit?

Each of us needs to periodically correct our course as we pursue our goals and increase our success – this is an essential aspect of personal productivity.

Each positive new habit we permanently acquire increases our leverage in the world and moves us closer to our big goals.

“Those old habits don’t have to be erased, they just become replaced by a new habit that is more in vibrational harmony with who you are and what you want.” – Abraham–Hicks

Here is a trick of “stacking good habits,” that can help you to get the most out of your days: instead of making some huge change in your life, stack together several small improvements, and watch the cumulative effect of those small improvements surpass what the huge change would have achieved.

Stacking Good Habits Has Exponential Impact

The Japanese have a word for stacking, “kaizen,” which means, essentially, “small steps.”

If you’re hoping to add more health and self-care protocols into your life, stacking can help you implement a new habit regularly into your weekly schedule by making progress to your productivity in bite-sized pieces.

personal productivity is getting things done happily

8. Set Brilliant Goals

What good habits is your life in need of?

Simply take a few moments to jot down what about your life isn’t working – in any area, including your health and your body.

Having identified your challenges, now write down a few possible solutions for each problem.

For each solution, you should be able to come up with at least one (maybe more) daily or weekly habit that would be helpful to you.

“watch the cumulative effect of small improvements surpass what one huge change would have achieved.”

Here are some examples of some small changes that could reap huge improvements in your life:

  • limit eating conventionally farmed red meat to 3 times a month could add 4 years to your lifespan
  • eating 300-400 calories less than the average American could at least 4 healthier years to your life
  • consistent strength training could add over 5 high-energy years to your lifespan

These are just a few examples. You can see how implementing small changes, routinely, can cause enormous overall improvements in your personal productivity.

Most people find it helpful to set goals. The reason that they find goal-setting helpful is that… {drumroll, please}… goals work.

It’s a self-perpetuating loop: When we improve our daily habits, we achieve our goals. When we achieve our goals, we receive the immeasurable benefit of having improved our daily habits.

How to Set the Right Goals

A different – and outrageously effective – way to set goals is to determine what you want, then work backward until you drill it down to a daily habit.

Let’s craft an example of what I mean by this process:

Hypothetically, if your goal is, say, to “have a tight waist” then you work backward to identify habits that, when stacked, will lead cumulatively to a tight waist – such as “go for a walk around the block each night after dinner” and “turn the television off at 8:30 pm each night (to reduce the temptation for late-night desserts).”

When you look back on an old list of goals you wrote, the chances are that you will see that many of your goals have since been realized – even though you forgot to think about your goal list every day and, in fact, forgot that you even made the list in the first place.

This is because whatever you spend your energy, time, and focus on: you get more of.

This is a natural law at play in the universe.

When you identify a solution with your conscious mind, your unconscious mind will set to work on solving the problem.

The more clarity and conviction you have about your goal – the more feeling you have behind it – the harder your unconscious will work on your behalf.

mature athlete preparing his anti-inflammatory meals ahead of time
Silver and Strong: The Complete Guide to Getting Fit After the Age of 50” reveals how a low-carb lifestyle can transform your body – and your life. You’ll also learn about carb cycling, and when to do a Cheat Day or “ReFeed.”

The more ambivalent you are about the solution, the less hard your unconscious will work. When you’re ambivalent, so is the universe.

When you carefully and passionately create a list of new goals, you are engaging your unconscious. And, let’s face it, daily habits mostly come from a very unconscious place.

When we do something almost as if on autopilot – as if our muscles have memorized the particular activity – then we can say that activity has been habituated.

The very process of crafting a goal list causes you to visualize the goals as having been attained already – and this places positive images into your psyche. And your unconscious loves images even more than words.

The annual phenomenon of New Year’s Resolutions means that:

  • Sometime between December 26th (the day after Christmas) and January 1st (New Years Day), millions of human beings over the planet take the opportunity to reflect on their lives.
  • They celebrate their successes, feel grateful for abundance, and focus on what else it is that they want from their lives, and from themselves.

But you don’t have to wait until the end of the year to set a new goal for yourself.

Now is the Perfect Time to Evaluate Your Habits

Of course, you don’t need a holiday in order to update your list of new goals. You can do it any time that you want to, and needn’t be constrained by dates.

It turns out that I have a slightly different view on setting goals. I believe a very wise place to start your goal-setting process, is by looking at your daily rituals and determining what specific habits need changing.

Each good daily habit is a helping hand that steadies your bow so that you can stay on target with your goals.

For those of you who happen to be over the age of 50, it’s vital to create a strategy for the next 50 years of your life. So that you can increase wellness and enjoy a higher quality of life with each passing year.

9. Surprising Productivity Tip: Try Standing for Work Instead of Sitting

If you have to stand while you work, you are less likely to waste time.

If you work on your computer all day like I do, it’s helpful to have an adjustable desk, so that you can periodically stand, and sit, throughout the day while you work. However, you don’t need fancy or expensive equipment – just have more than one place to work during your day. Even a kitchen counter can work.

TIP: if you decide to recline with a laptop, use one of those lap desks they sell at office supply stores. Please don’t set the laptop directly on your lap where your vital organs can get zapped with EMFs. Maybe it’s not harmful, but the thought of it I find irksome. Don’t use a pillow, either, because it will cover the vents your laptop uses to breathe and it can then overheat.

Back pain is terrible, so it’s worth the extra investment in your health to make sure your equipment is ergonomic and your spine is aligned properly (believe me, chiropractor visits and painkillers are more expensive than the equipment).

Personally, I’m a big fan of Rain products. They make lap desks and laptop stands that are über-kewl and have sleek designs.

“…how often does a new habit need to be performed before it no longer requires herculean self-control? When we want to develop a relatively simple habit like eating a piece of fruit each day or taking a 10-minute walk, it could take us over two months of daily repetitions before the behavior becomes a habit” – PsyBlog

Additional Resources for Improving Personal Productivity:

“rigorous and valid research study on habit formation”  – https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/hbrc/2012/06/29/busting-the-21-days-habit-formation-myth/

“work more efficiently by raising laptop to ergonomic height” –https://www.raindesigninc.com/mstand.html

“phone cases with a built-in stand to protect your device and enjoy it in a versatile way –http://www.igeeksblog.com/best-iphone-6-cases-with-stand/

“research of how people actually change” – http://www.apa.org/research/action/understand.aspx

“what is kaizen?” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen

“66 days to set a new habit” – http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/09/how-long-to-form-a-habit.php

“100 life goals list” – http://www.belowzerotohero.com/index.php/100-life-goals-list

“what is habituation?” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habituation

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