My Secrets to Productivity and Success in 2020 (Part 2 of 2)
Howdy folks! Thanks for coming back to read part 2 of my secrets to success series!
In case you didn't read it yet, make sure you check out Part 1 of The 12 Keys to Increasing Productivity and Achieving Great Success in 2020. We're going to jump right in and assume you're already up to speed on the previous half. By now, you're already practicing daily affirmations, logging your time use, keeping a daily score card of your habits, setting time-boxed and SMART goals, starting and ending your day with journaling, and following a daily routine. You're off to a great start!
Key #7: Stay extremely organized with objectives
Have you ever heard of bullet journaling? I mentioned it briefly in part 1 of the series. It's just one of many different ways you can stay on top of your objectives and goals for each day, week, month and quarter of the year. What's really important, no matter how you go about it, is that you're making some kind of list of the most important things that need to get done, so you don't have to track this information inside your head. This helps to relieve tension and stress, and makes it easier to track lots of different things all at once without getting overwhelmed.
One excellent resource I can recommend on this subject is the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. It teaches you things like finishing any task that takes less than 15 minutes right away so it falls off your radar, and organizing your tasks and your life so that you have less clutter, both physically and mentally. One of the key premises of David's system is that you should keep track of all your goals and tasks in a single list, and revise your master list daily so that everything that isn't totally crucial falls off the map.
I manage this by keeping 4 lists in 2 text files. One text file has 3 lists, organized by priority, into high, medium and low priority. These are the items I'm trying to get done on a regular basis, and it's where I log things quickly (until I've had time to put them in a ticketing system... and yes, I do use Jira to manage my personal life!) The second text file only has a single list in it: the very most important things I need to focus on TODAY. I revise the lists in both text files daily to keep them fresh and up to date.
Key #8: Share your process and progress
I'm certainly not the first person to write about how sharing your progress with others keeps you motivated and honest with yourself. There's powerful psychology at work when you include others in your process. But perhaps most important of all, by sharing your process and progress with others, you can also leverage your own successes to the benefit of other people who can learn and grow from it!
Key #9: Break your old, bad habits
Are you still spending 2 or more hours each day in front of a television screen, binge-watching Netflix or playing video games? Perhaps instead, you're spending a couple of hours each day scrolling through your social media feed. If so, you're probably making rationalizations like, "I've worked hard all day and deserve a little break." Truth be told, however, these activities dull your senses, waste your time, and can even be the root cause of depression and anxiety.
Before you can establish great habits that will propel you forward, you need to break the old ones. It can take up to three weeks to break a bad habit, so it's important to start right now, to track your progress with your habits each day, and to replace these useless habits with better ones.
How will you reclaim this time? You can spend your leisure time reading books, practicing a musical instrument, authoring unique content to share with the world, or studying a new language or skill. All of these things can be great fun and will stimulate your brain and senses instead of hypnotizing you like the television does. Best of all, after you've done these more fruitful activities, you'll feel amazing at the end of each day because you actually have something to show for your time.
Key #10: Be honest and compassionate with yourself
This one is incredibly important, because it's something that even the most productive people can neglect to do. In order to get any value out of better time logging and habits each day, you need to be totally honest with yourself about how you're spending your time, and whether that time was invested in something that can actually generate returns and value in your life.
It's not enough to just be honest, though. It's also incredibly important to have compassion for yourself, and not beat yourself up about making mistakes or spending time in ways that isn't optimal. When you've done something that isn't the best you could've done, simply observe the behavior, and let it go. Don't berate or chastise yourself for not being perfect.
Simply acknowledge the behavior you're trying to course-correct on, and say,
"I can do better at this. I'm improving every day. I'll try harder next time!"
Key #11: Diet, exercise, meditation and good sleep
Let's say you're lucky enough to be driving a Ferrari. Would you fill up your tank with regular gasoline? Not if you're smart! A high-test, high-performance vehicle needs high-octane fuel! This simple concept makes sense to almost anyone... yet, why do so many of us not follow the same rules with our body and mind?
You'll never get maximum output from your days if you don't first take care of the machine that powers your entire existence: your physical vessel. If you want to be ultra-productive and ace whatever your chosen goals are every day, you need to set yourself up for success by taking immaculate care of yourself!
Get better sleep by avoiding all screens within 2 hours of bedtime. Make sure you block out all sources of light in your bedroom at night, and don't let yourself hit that snooze button! Getting to bed at the same time each night, and waking up at the same time each morning, is incredibly crucial to getting healthy sleep each night. Make sure you don't drink too many liquids late in the day, so you don't have to wake up at night to use the bathroom. If you're doing all of this, you should be able to function at a high level with only 6-7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
As for diet, make sure to choose a healthy diet that works well for you. Everyone's different. For me, a ketogenic diet (mainly meat, cheese and low-carb veggies) works really well. I also practice intermittent fasting, where I only eat food between 2pm and 8pm each day. With both of these daily practices, I find that I have more energy and it's easier for me to stay fit as I grow older.
Daily meditation is one of the best ways to get outside of your own head, improve your focus, and have a better mood and a clear head all day long. For the last couple of months, I've been using a course for this: Waking Up by Sam Harris. It doesn't matter how you do it, but make meditation part of your daily practice if you want to maximize your effectiveness each day.
Last but not least, get some exercise! At least 10,000 steps per day is a great metric for getting some cardio in each day. I also like the DDP Yoga course for flexibility and low-intensity strength training. I'm also a fan of the 100 Pushups course for increasing your core strength. By committing to daily exercise, you're making your body more capable to tackle whatever comes at you each day.
Key #12: Positive reinforcement and encouragement
This is the final key to success in productivity and life, and it's a fairly simple one: keep feeding yourself constant positive reinforcement and encouragement as you progress. Your body and mind will grow weary over time, as you try to adopt new habits and behaviors. You need to keep reminding yourself that you are doing great, and the extra effort is worth it, because you're molding yourself into a better person each day, and achieving more than you ever thought possible!
Remember to give yourself credit when it's due. You're awesome!
Made it this far? Congratulations: you're doing great!
Thanks so much for staying with me on this 2-part series to improving your productivity and output. I want to know how things worked out for you, so make sure to hit me up on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and let me know how you liked this article. Tell me all about your own productivity strategies and techniques. Let's work together to make 2020 the best year of our lives (so far)!