Whether you’re stuck or surging forward, take these tips and run.
1. Pick one or two things to complete that day.
Being busy isn’t the same as being productive.
There are times when I’m running from meeting to meeting, or responding to email after email, but nothing is getting accomplished at all.
At the end of the day, productivity is measured by what you’ve accomplished.
One thing that has helped me recently is to whittle down what I want to tackle that day. After I plot out the entire project, I’ll pick one or two steps to knock out each day. I’m a tactile person, which means I really like to touch and feel things. Weird, but stay with me.
Some folks use bullet points inside their work document, make a list on paper, or use an app to track their tasks.
Since I’m so tactile, I write each task on a sticky note. When I complete it, I crumple it up and toss it into the trash.
Simplify your day, and watch your productivity go way up.
2. Take a day to look outside your industry.
I’ve got a business buddy who is wired to naturally connect one idea to another.
For example, he’ll compare his industry to a something completely unexpected: a set of baseball fields.
Or he’ll see a restaurant employee do something that he thinks his employees could do too.
There’s actually a name for this technique: laddering. I first learned about this concept in a fantastic book titled Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath.
The basic idea is that you look outside of your industry for inspiration. This technique absolutely works (at least for me). There’s a little more to it than my simple definition, so check out their book for more.
We’ve all seen the effects of laddering.
In 2008, professional swimmers were breaking records left and right. It seemed like an old record fell every week, and even the new records didn’t seem to last very long.
The difference? A new swimsuit that modeled shark skin.
When a man-made design models nature, it’s called biomimicry. Biomimicry is one example of how our work can improve when we look at the work of others.
3. Start consuming fantastic content.
Many people’s world–including mine–has been changed because of books we’ve read.
I think it was James Altucher (who writes some awesome content) who described a book as “someone’s entire life” in 150 pages or so. In other words, someone lived their entire life and put everything they learned in a book for you to read.
If you’re new to reading great books, I encourage you to start reading–and applying–the lessons that stand out to you.
If you’re an old hat to consuming content, I encourage you to do one thing: make sure the content is actually great. Read and listen to people who have achieved what you’re trying to achieve.
At the very least, be sure that they’re not giving advice about things they know nothing about.
Elevating the content you consume will lead to some awesome changes in your life and business.
4. Stop consuming content altogether (for a little while).
It’s completely possible to consume too much content.
If you’re looking to become more productive, reading just one more book about productivity isn’t going to do the trick. You’re procrastinating in a way that feels good.
Reading a bunch of books feels like progress. Listening to a ton of podcasts feels like we’ve worked. Taking a boat load of online courses feels like we’ve dominated the day. All of that feels good.
But trust me, nothing feels better than actually accomplishing something.
Learn, apply, then get to work.
5. Begin creating content.
Most of us are better at giving relationship advice that we are at our own relationships.
It works the same way in business!
One of the most effective tactics I’ve used to make myself more productive and effective is to write as if I’m giving someone advice about my own obstacle.
Creating content comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.
I think the assumption is that if you create content, then you have to put it out into the world. Hey, if you want to, then do it! But feel free to write to yourself.
I talk to myself all the time!
6. Forget about creating content.
Just as one can consume too much content, one can also create too much content to be productive.
If you’re forcing yourself to create content, racking your brain to produce more, well here’s a suggestion: forget about creating content for awhile.
Honestly, I’m currently reaching the point at which I need to begin posting other’s work to The Good Men Project. As an editor, I have the responsibility to post three articles a week to the site. And up to this point, I’ve written nearly every single post myself.
That was intentional.
I wanted to challenge myself. Well, I’ve challenged myself. I’ve reached some of my short-term objectives, and now I’d like to bring in other people’s work. That will let me devote more focus to my other projects, all while highlighting the hard work of others.
That’s a good deal.
7. Change your scenery.
I’m most productive when I’m in an airplane.
The second most effective state for me is when I’m overseas. In fact, the most productive night of my life was when I was in a restaurant in a small neighborhood in Istanbul, Turkey.
No, I don’t get to work in planes–or in Istanbul–every day of my life! But that’s why those places are so effective for me.
I get out of my regular space.
My brain opens up, the new scenery excites me, and I get motivated to make the most out of that experience.
Try exploring different places to work.
It just might lead to your next breakthrough!
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