Effective performance is preceded by painstaking preparation.
– Brian Tracy
If there is one thing I’m good at, it’s getting things done.
I’ve perfected the art of doing. I execute and produce. It’s my jam. 🙂
The quote above gets at the heart of productivity – planning. That’s where the sweet sauce is for productivity. Planning the right things ahead of time will increase your productivity tenfold. But it’s not just about planning — it’s also about how you think and the tools you use.
So, I’ve listed 21 simple tips that will help you learn how to be more productive that work for me that you can apply to your life.
How To Be More Productive
I broke down the productivity tips into three categories:
- Deep thinking
- Tips and tricks
Each category has a different angle for how to increase your productivity. Combined, it works like magic. 🙂
The planning category is all about how to be more productive through your planning. Here are my best planning tips for productivity.
- Schedule results and outcomes (not to-dos). Instead of scheduling what you need to work on during a period of time, schedule the outcome and result you need to get during that time. For example, don’t schedule “work on blog” from 12pm-3pm. Instead, schedule write 1 blog post from 12pm-3pm. You’ll force yourself to actually produce more if you schedule this way because you’ll be accountable to what’s actually getting done and not what you’re working on.
- Use the mornings for your hardest or most important task. Even if you’re not a morning person, whenever you wake up and get your coffee, your mind is clear. It’s a fresh start to the day and you’ll have the highest ability to focus. Do your hardest or most important task during this time to get it done first.
- Wake up 20 minutes earlier every day. This will give you more time during the most important time of day. I know you may not think you’re a morning person, but increasing how early you get up by 15 or 20 minute increments at a time is a great way to ease into it (that, and going to bed earlier!).
- Intentionally create a morning routine. A morning routine is made up of the activities you do before your work day starts. Incorporate things that will motivate you like podcasts, reading, prayer, meditation, or journaling. Or, use it specifically to get your #1 goal done. Whatever you do, be intentional about it. I love my morning routine – I use it to pray, journal, and blog.
- Time-block your schedule. Look at your calendar in the week and month views and find big chunks of time where you can schedule big products that require a lot of focus. For example, I might time block 12pm-4pm on a Saturday afternoon to produce a YouTube video.
- Batch your tasks. Instead of working on 10 things every day, split up what you do into different days and batch them. This increases your productivity. Bulk tasking is more efficient because you’re more focused. For example, I typically only write blog posts on Mondays. This way, it’s done and I can focus on other things throughout the week.
- Obsesses over your schedule. Constantly look at your schedule every day to review it, evaluate it, and make changes to it where needed. Get in the habit of looking at your calendar at night, first thing in the morning, and periodically throughout the day. Don’t just look at today. Look at the rest of the week and month. Spend at least 15 minutes a day on your schedule at first. It should be such a habit that you are very time-conscious and highly productive within a month.
- Stick to your schedule – no matter what. Time should always be on your mind. It should be a huge emergency if you have to cancel plans. This is what it means to be a professional. You do things even when you don’t feel like it. Otherwise, you won’t be productive no matter how much you plan. Take as much of the thought out of it so you don’t change your mind.
The deep thinking section is about knowing why it is you want to be productive in the first place. There’s no point to doing things more efficiently that never needed to be done in the first place.
You may not realize it, but deep thinking will increase your productivity because your actions are a result of your thinking. Change your thoughts and you change your results.
- Answer deep life questions. Deep thinkers are more productive than everyone else. This is because deep thinkers feel very strongly about what they’re doing and have a strong sense of purpose. They know their why. Here’s a post about 21 Life Questions that will help you do this.
- Know your “why” and remind yourself of it whenever you’re doing something. The stronger you associate your why with the tasks you’re doing, the more likely you’ll be to follow through.
- Question everything that’s asked of you. Ask yourself if it’s really necessary. If it’s not, try to get out of it. Definitely do not do something just because someone else wants you to. This will get you into big trouble and will crush your own productivity.
- Have clarity about your future. Think about your future. Practice being decisive. The clearer you are on your direction, goals, and purpose, the more productive you’ll be. I heard that Oprah asks what the purpose and objective of a meeting is for every meeting she’s in. Can you imagine if you had this type of clarity and focus?
- Use Dream Year for a goal planner. This is my goal setting workbook that I created specifically for life planning. It’s really good for helping you think about big picture questions and life planning. will trickle down into how you want to plan your days.
Tips and Tricks
These tips are things that I find helpful for increasing my productivity. They’re random and help me take it up a notch with getting everything done.
- Don’t check social media until a certain time of day. E.g.: wait until 10am to check social media and email every day. This will help you have laser focus for the first few hours of the day, which are the most important.
- Use the Productivity Planner to help plan your weeks. I’m obsessed with the Productivity Planner. It’s a physical planning tool that helps you prioritize tasks so you get the most important things done every day and week.
- Say “no” once every day. This will get you more comfortable with saying no. Being able to say no is so important. Warren Buffet said “the difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” Any time you make a decision ask yourself if it aligns with what you want in life.
- Write everything down. All of it. We have a tendency to forget and think we’ll remember things, when we won’t. Use an app (I use and love Evernote for this) to keep track of ideas or anything else you want to jot down.
- Adopt a neutral wardrobe. This is random, but it works. Sticking to only wearing neutral colors takes so much decision-making out of your life. You can read my story about only wearing neutrals here. Whatever you can do to minimize decisions in an area of your life, do it. This will leave more head space and time for the important stuff.
- Meal plan for the week on Sundays. Just like planning your wardrobe to minimize your decisions, you should do this for food. Spend Sundays (or another specifically designated day) to plan your food for the week. This will help you spend less time during the week on meals so you can spend more time doing things you actually want to be doing. I know a lot of people who use and love the $5 Meal Plan.
- Download time-saving apps or task management apps. A couple apps I use and love are: 1) Evernote, 2) Trello, 3) Day One Journal, 4) Reminders (on the iPhone), and 5) Wunderlist.
- Educate yourself on productivity. Read books and listen to podcasts. You have to focus on learning how to be more productive to continue to grow and make it happen.
A Final Note!
These tips for how to be more productive will help you increase your productivity if you actually do them. I’ve also created a free training to help you Stop Being Busy so that you are more productive.
And if you’re a visual learner, you can check these productivity tips out here on YouTube…
They work for me, and over time, have compounded to turn me into somewhat of a productivity machine, ha. 🙂
Cheers to getting more of the right things done!