Being truly productive goes beyond running around like a busy bee trying to complete as many tasks as possible. Real productivity is not based on quantity; it’s based on meaning and working towards an overall purpose. We can spend our time doing many things, however if they don’t have impact or purpose they are essentially a waste of our time (and others).
Achieving success in productivity is based on 4 keys: purpose, clarity, planned action, and energy. Without this combination you may look busy (or lazy) yet not be getting anything meaningful accomplished. A life without meaning is a life without purpose and fulfillment.
To create true productivity in your life and career go through these 4 steps first:
Ask yourself what you ultimately want to achieve in your life and with your career. Assess which areas of your life are out of balance and need prioritization. Stephen Covey talks about the four fundamental human needs in his book ‘First Things First’ where he mentions if we are not balanced in these four areas of our lives, we are not fulfilled: physical, social, mental, and spiritual.
Write down how can you add more purpose to each of these areas. For example to increase your mental needs through your career, work out how you can align your passions and talents to your current or future role.
Once you have added purpose to different areas of your life, it’s time to get clear on what you want to achieve. For example, if your purpose is to become healthier and reduce inflammation in the body then your clarity could be to eat more nourishing and nutrient dense foods. If your career goal is to serve more people and use your gifts as an extrovert, then your clarity could involve writing down a perfect job description for yourself.
Remember to get as specific as you can and have faith you can accomplish your goals. If you don’t have exact clarity in some areas right now, then ask for the answers to be revealed and stay open to receiving the information. They could appear as an intuitive hit, advice from a friend, an offer you receive in mail, or an ad you see that stands out.
3. Planned Action
Pick one priority in your personal life and one priority in your career then build some actions steps to accomplish your goals. Without overwhelming yourself, schedule the goals into your calendar starting with one thing you can do each day in both areas.
Once you have momentum you can add in 2 tasks per day then work up to 3 tasks a day for each. To improve your health you could do a cooking class, then visit a market to buy produce, followed by cooking a nutrient dense meal.
To interact with more people in your career you can make a list of different responsibilities you want to take on in your role, then speak to your supervisor about it. If you want to change careers then you can interview friends in roles that appeal to you then research what you would need to do to get into that role yourself.
Productivity requires taking action, which requires energy. Even with the best-laid plans if we don’t have the physical or mental energy to focus then we are doing ourselves a disservice. Prioritizing self-care not only increases productivity it also promotes longevity.
Getting enough sleep, eating nutrient dense meals regularly to fuel our brain and body, as well as reducing stress are key to productivity. Assess where you are in these areas then come up with a plan to balance and build strong energy.
Do you need to go to bed earlier to get the sleep you require? Can you commit to eating 3 meals a day no matter how busy you are and make them nourishing? Do you have too much stress in your life that is spiking your nervous system? If so, can you commit to meditate, remove stressful situations, or avoid caffeine to calm down the nervous system?