It seems like everyone I’ve been talking to lately has become obsessed with podcasts. Do you listen to any? To be honest, the idea of a podcast sounds right up my alley, but for some reason the thought of listening to someone else talk without having anything visually stimulating to look at made me hesitant to try them out. But after hearing Jess Lively’s name one too many times over the past couple of weeks, I thought I’d give her podcast The Lively Show a listen.
Because I’ve been feeling like I’m in a bit of a creative rut, overwhelmed by managerial tasks and business strategizing, I was immediately drawn to episode #120: A $250,000 Productivity Habit to Get Important Stuff Done with Alex Ikonn. I decided to forgo my usual workout playlist and spent my hour at the gym listening to some pretty awesome advice. You should definitely check out her show for yourself, and give this particular episode a listen here.
1. Set 15 tasks to complete a week.
Jess and co-host Alex Ikonn talked about how helpful it is to sit down every Sunday night (or Monday morning) and create a list of 15 tasks to get done that week. They emphasized how important it is not to exceed 15 in order to be realistic and to give yourself a chance of succeeding.
2. Set 3-5 tasks to complete each day.
Then they went on to suggest setting 3-5 goals to accomplish each day. They recommended making a list of these items in order of priority and tackling them in order as well. I find that my to-do lists often get wayyy too long that I feel overwhelmed and end up being less productive as a result. So I love that 3-5 tasks doesn’t feel so intimidating and is actually realistic & productive.
3. Focus on one task at a time.
This one is a struggle for me. I’m always bouncing back and forth between an email, a blog post, a tweet, etc. I’ve always thought I was pretty good at multi-tasking, but Jess & Alex pointed out how much energy you use up merely switching from one task to another. And it made me think about how productive I really am when I sit and focus on one thing for a chunk of time.
4. Try the timer method.
They recommended setting a timer so that you really sit down and give all of your attention to one task. For example, you could set your timer for 25 minutes (or an hour, whatever feels comfortable for your working habits) and to focus completely on that one task during that time — no email, no Instagram, no distractions. After the time is up, take a 5 (or 10 or 30) minute break. But like a real break. Don’t answer emails or tackle other projects; instead, go for a walk or stretch or listen to music. Then set the timer again and repeat this a couple of times. I love how this method not only keeps you focused, but also helps clarify how much time certain tasks really take.
5. Figure out when you’re most productive.
It’s true that most people tend to be more productive during certain times of day. For me, that seems to be late morning and early evening. Then, plan your day around that. Do your most important tasks during the times in which you’re most productive, and save calls, meetings, and breaks for those other times of day. It’s so simple, but I never thought about maximizing my day like this!
6. Being aware is half the battle.
One of the topics of conversation throughout the podcast was how important it is to simply be aware of your working habits. Maybe you don’t follow these tips to a T, but being aware of when you’re truly focused or when you’re slacking or when you need a break is half the battle. It’s really the first step in becoming a more productive person.
7. Becoming more productive takes time.
As a proponent of taking it easy on yourself, I love how Jess & Alex emphasized how you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself if/when you aren’t as productive as you would have liked. Many people try these methods and when they don’t work immediately, they give up. But becoming more productive takes time — it’s like a muscle you need to strengthen — so give yourself that time to work on these tips and soon enough, you’ll be crossing off tasks on your to-do list like a boss.
Do you have any tips for being more productive??
Photography by Andrea Posadas