Six Simple Steps to Being Productive

Six Simple Steps to Being Productive


Personally, I don’t think it makes any sense to accept a culture of lethargy as the year winds down. While I understand the need to celebrate, ‘chillax’ and let your hair down in year end festivities, what I don’t understand is why this takes precedence over productivity, organisation and driving revenue.

And why does this silly season lasts almost three months – pretty much from now until January? So while your colleague may rest on his laurels this quarter, this is a brilliant opportunity for you to move ahead.

Six steps to being productive:

1. Organise your email inbox: You wouldn’t open your paper post, read it and then return it to your postbox would you? So avoid doing this with your electronic mail. Your email inbox is an action box – it needs to act as an extension of your ‘to-do’ list.

To take immediate control of your bulging inbox, create a folder named ‘old inbox’ and drag your old emails from your inbox into that. Now that it’s not so overwhelming, you can start afresh – making immediate decisions to file, delete, delegate or follow up as you go along.

2. Keep your desk clear: Sort your papers into a ‘finding system’ and practice the mantra ‘file don’t pile’. Replace your open in/out trays with a desk based drawer system available from stationery stores. Label the drawers ‘to file’, ‘to pay’, ‘to read’, ‘scrap paper’, ‘to do’ and place your paper in the appropriate drawer as you go along instead of adding it to a growing meaningless pile.

Bonus: You only file when the drawer is full, your desk remains clutter free and your papers are presorted so are easy to find.

3. Cross things off your list: Urgent and menial tasks are the ones that always seem to get done. You put out the rubbish on collection day (that’s menial) and you prepare the presentation for the big business meeting (urgent) but what about all the in-between tasks?

Keep a running list of everything that you need to do, prioritise it according to revenue and schedule 3 tasks a day in your diary. What you don’t complete today you can reschedule for tomorrow. What you never get around to is probably not that important in any case.

Don’t waste time writing down what you can do in 2 minutes, just get it done!

4. Set goals: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – it also makes you less productive at work and less fulfilled at play. Allow yourself time to dream in all four life quadrants: mental (work, finance), physical (health, wellbeing), emotional (self, friends, family, material) and spiritual (religion, charity, spirituality).

Knowing what you want to achieve and committing to what you need to do in order to achieve it, allows you to live your life on purpose with purpose.

5. Say no: A friend asks you to stand for chairperson of the social committee and you know it isn’t something you want to do. She begs and pleads until eventually you give in. Now, you feel stressed, frustrated and even angry with yourself. You have compromising your time, hobbies and goals.

Saying ‘no’ doesn’t have to be horrible; if it doesn’t feel right for you to say yes, then you need to follow your truth, value your time and say no.

6. Choose your attitude: You can only think one thought at a time. If you are not happy with how you are feeling ask yourself what you are thinking. It is difficult to feel happy if you are thinking sad thoughts, so change the thoughts that are not serving you by repeating a positive affirmation.

“I am calm and content” is a much nicer thought than “I am stressed and frustrated”. Repeat the positive affirmation over and over again until you feel you have changed the negative thinking. So take control of your thoughts, you’ll feel less stressed and more empowered and liberated.

Tracey Foulkes
Tracey Foulkes wows audiences with her sharp wit, quick reactions and personable sense of humour. She speaks about procrastination, business productivity, personal motivation and time management. . If you want your team to be inspired to operate outside of the box, contact her for a complimentary productivity assessment, email or find her on Twitter as Tracey Foulkes or on LinkedIn as Tracey Foulkes.