As today (at the time of posting) is Thanksgiving over in the states, I thought I’d write a quick blog on why I’m thankful that I started to take my personal productivity much more seriously, and the impact that has had on my life, and I learned this the hard way.
In my early twenties, I worked at a radio station. It was a great job and I loved it, but it was also incredibly demanding. I was working ten hours a day, seven days a week, and I really believed that the key to success was just working hard. I started to burn out and the people around me were starting to notice this too. I was constantly tired, I was losing touch with my friends, and I went home at the end of a long day and wanted to do nothing but just head to bed and sleep. Over time, though, I started to realize that there had to be a better way. I wanted to find a way to work less and still get just as much done. And that’s when I discovered productivity.
Productivity has completely changed the way I work, and for that, I am incredibly thankful. It has helped me to achieve more in less time, and to feel less stressed and more effective in everything I do. If I could go back and give my younger self some advice about productivity, here is what I would say…
“Liz, time doesn’t equal productivity”
One of the biggest myths about productivity is that the key is just to work more hours. In my experience, this is completely false. Working more hours does not necessarily mean you’ll get more done. In fact, it often has the opposite effect. Not only will you be less productive when you’re tired, but you’ll also end up burning out very quickly if you’re constantly working long hours. Instead of thinking about how many hours you can work, focus on being as efficient and effective as possible in the time you have available.
Take yourself away from the bustling office where everyone wants to sit and have a “catch-up”, and for short periods of time just focus on the task in hand, nothing else, and watch the results start rolling in.
“Liz, you don’t have to do it all yourself”
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I was first starting out was trying to do everything myself. I thought that if I wanted something done right, then I had to do it myself. But that’s just not true. There are plenty of other people who can help you with your work, whether it’s hiring an assistant or outsourcing some of your tasks. Delegating can be difficult at first, but it’s essential if you want to be productive.
Since starting my own businesses, I really embraced the power of outsourcing. The day I handed over our accounts to someone, felt like a literal weight was lifted from my shoulders. I’d never be where I am without the people who support me with their expertise. And when someone offers to help, thank them, rather than saying, “no, I’m good”.
“Liz, it’s ok to say no”
Saying no is one of the most important skills you can learn if you want to be productive. When we try to take on too much, we end up spreading ourselves thin and not doing anything well. Learning to say no means learning to prioritise your time and energy on the things that are truly important to you.
However, there is a caveat to this…
I have met so many people who take this as, “say no to time with friends and family because they’ll still be there when the work is done”, or “say yes to all work opportunities because the paid work will bring freedom later”. Spread your priorities, sometimes saying no to work opportunities, well, as the saying goes, “when one door closes….”
“Liz, don’t just grab that slice of pizza”
It’s no secret that exercise and nutrition are essential for a healthy body. What you may not know is that they are also key to peak productivity. When you take care of your body, you’re able to take care of your work with fewer distractions.
Regular physical activity has been proven to boost your energy levels and improve your concentration. Exercise helps clear the cobwebs from your mind, giving you a burst of creativity and clarity. The more you move, the more alert and focused you become. This makes it easier to tackle tasks that require intense mental effort. Regular exercise will also help reduce stress and improve your mood, which can be vital when you are facing a challenging project.
Just as important as exercise is nutrition. Eating healthy meals regularly will provide your body with the energy it needs to stay productive. A balanced diet will help you stay focused and attentive for longer periods of time. So, ensure there is time in the day to eat well and get some exercise in, even if it’s just a brief walk to feel the benefits.
“Liz, set your own deadlines”
If you want to get something done, set a deadline for yourself and stick to it. Having a deadline will help you stay focused and motivated, and it will also prevent you from procrastinating. Make sure your deadlines are realistic, though—if they’re too ambitious, you’ll just end up feeling overwhelmed and stressed out!
I’m so thankful that I found productivity. Not only has it changed my life, but it sent my career in a whole new direction. I love that I get to travel the world and speak about this topic, helping others discover the benefits which have had such a huge impact on me.
If you’re feeling anywhere close to the burnout I talked about in this post, there are small changes you can make to your routines, which can have major impacts.
Check out my elearning courses for the one which will help you get unstuck…
And Happy Thanksgiving.