Productivity. What a fun, challenging, and totally misunderstood word. Productivity is something that you are born with. No, wait, it's something that you develop. Or, hold on, it's something you gain as you get older.
While most of you probably have some basis of what you think productivity is, I am going to challenge you to take a long, hard look at what you are doing, and then determine whether it's TRULY productive or not. So first, let's talk about what productivity isn't...
1. Productivity isn't completing a checklist
Until very recently, I had this super anal-retentive, type-A personality thing where I had to write a checklist every day and get everything on the checklist completed in order to feel good about myself. How many of you feel the same way? Or how many of you still accomplish tasks in that fashion?
Well, I have good news and bad news. And because this is a written medium, you unfortunately don't get to decide which comes first. I'll start with the bad news.
The bad news is that checking off a traditional to-do list is in fact very unproductive. The good news- there's a way to hack the traditional to-do list to kick ass and get shit done.
That wasn't so bad was it?
Why is the old check list a bad idea and actually unproductive?
It's actually an easy answer. When most people write a to-do list or a checklist, they write things down that virtually have no major impact on what REALLY needs to get done. How many times have you written down "go to the grocery store" or "email Jim" or "call Cindy"? A ton. So have I.
The problem with this is that you almost always gravitate towards the items that are the easiest on the list. These items are usually the ones that have the least impact on what is actually important. This, in turn, takes your day from seeming productive to actually being a day of getting a lot of unimportant, menial tasks done. Ouch.
So how do I hack my traditional checklist or to-do list to be a pro at productivity (see what I did there)?
Something that I just started using that is totally transforming my productivity levels, and creating insanely awesome days of work is called the Productivity Planner.
Why is this little journal transforming my productivity, you might ask?
The answer is simple: it takes the old way of writing down your daily to-dos and prioritizes them in order of importance, and won't let you move on to the next, secondary task until the most important task of the day is done. BOOM.
That's what my checklist was always missing.
I wasn't telling myself I had to get done the most important task of the day first. I wasn't starting off my day intentionally, and thus, the rest of my day followed.
If you take your old checklist and revamp it, or get a copy of the Productivity Planner (and no, I am not getting paid to push this book, it's just that awesome), you will be doing your productivity a gigantic favor.
2. Productivity doesn't involve your smartphone.
Sorry in advance to all you people who live, and die, by your phones. Unfortunately, these are probably the number one biggest obstacle to all of us being the super awesome, productive people we want to be.
"Well I have productivity apps on my phone, so you're wrong, Philip." Be honest with yourself- how many of you actually utilize apps on your phone other than social media? How many of you, in going to other apps like Evernote, or Dropbox, see a notification for Facebook and totally lose focus?
Yeah, me too.
That's the problem with your smartphone. It makes you feel important, yet makes you very, very unproductive.
You obviously are interested in being more productive, otherwise you wouldn't have made it this far in my blog post (unless you're my mom. Hi mom!).
The best way to get shit done is to turn your darned phone on airplane mode while you work. Simple. Easy. Productive.
One way that I stay extra productive is by using something called the Pomodoro Technique.
Thanks to Fractus learning for this awesome picture to help me explain what the Pomodoro Technique is.
In following the above description, you simply turn your phone on airplane mode, or off-if you are so daring-and work your tail off for 25 solid minutes, and during your five minute break, go ahead and check how special you are!
This has been one of the best techniques in getting me focused and on track. Trust me. Try it and see just how great you feel.