4 Keys to Unlocking Your Productivity
One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that I’m a doer. When I have an idea that I want to execute on, I’m able to take action on it immediately. I can get s*#t done.
When I decided I wanted to create my yoga health coaching course Align and Thrive 4 years ago, I had the course filled only 3 months later. Same went for the courses that followed — Empowered Living and Do Your Dharma.
Because of my supposed ability to “time bend”, I’ve been asked to be on colleague’s podcasts (see below for links) and have made time management a big component of my Do Your Dharma course.
This was not always the case. I spent many frustrated years feeling like I was getting nowhere and never felt like I could get anything done. As a mom of young children, it was especially challenging. But I had a mission and strong drive to create and do what I love for a living so I learned how to master my time.
I poured over books like Zen to Done and 12 Week Year. I learned how to use a digital calendar, project manager, google docs and sheets. I followed people like Michael Hyatt, Zen Habits, James Clear, and Darren Hardy. I started setting quarterly goals and did weekly planning sessions.
Over the next month I’m going to share my best tips and tools for making the most of every single day so that you can end each day with a sense of accomplishment and actually have something to show for it.
This week I’m sharing the 4 B’s to unlocking your productivity: Belief, Blocking, Batching and Big Rocks.
Belief. It always starts here. I see so many talented and knowledgeable entrepreneurs and teachers with great ideas hold themselves back simply because they don’t believe in themselves. This is such a shame. So many people are waiting for approval and permission to make their mark in the world. Imposter syndrome, lack of self-confidence and fear will always be there — the key is not to give them any attention and take the leap anyway. Learn to trust yourself and the universe. Cultivate courage in the face of your fear and just start.
Blocking. Time mastery begins with taking charge of your calendar. Don’t be reactive to other people’s agendas. Decide how YOU want to spend your time. When do you want to work? When do you want to exercise? When do you want free time? Block out times in your calendar in chunks and guard them with your life. Set boundaries for yourself and others and decide when you do your best work (focus time), when you want to allocate time for social media and email (buffer time), and when you want to unplug (free time). When we block out time for specific kinds of activities we can be present and fully engaged in what we’re doing. We don’t feel like we should be doing something else because we’ve set aside another time for it. This enables us to drop into a flow state, which, according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the secret of happiness. It also cultivates balance in our lives because we’ve made time for what’s most important.
Action Step: Print out a blank weekly calendar. Close your eyes and imagine your ideal week. Block out focus time (or even focus days if you can swing it). This is time to do deep work that requires mental focus. I recommend using early mornings for this. Then, block out buffer time (this is time for administrative stuff, chores, correspondence, social media). I recommend doing this in afternoons (vata time between the hours of 2–6 is ideal for making connections and having conversations). Then, block out free time (or days). This is complete recreation, recharge, and pleasure time (no work allowed!). This should be in the evenings and weekends. Keep your ideal calendar in sight as a reminder of what you’re working towards.
Batching. Batching is the practice of doing like tasks together. For example, if we’re checking emails, we’re not also trying to work on a project. If we’re playing with our kids, we’re not also checking social media. This requires discipline. However, apps like Freedom can help us stay focused on what we’re doing. When we do related activities at the same time, we prevent the time lost on “context-switching”, which is the loss of time due to multi0tasking or switching from one activity to another and can be up to 6 hours per day! Imagine if someone handed you 30 extra hours per week — and most of us complain that there’s never enough time!
Action step: Try your hand at single-tasking. When you eat, just eat (don’t read, watch or type). When you work, just work (download Freedom to block you from email and social media sites). And most importantly, when you play, just play (put your phones away and be 100% present so you can fully recharge).
Big Rocks. This is a concept introduced by Steven Covey and refers to doing the most important things (M.I.T.’s) first. We procrastinate on the most important things because they are often the most uncomfortable and may require the most focus. The problem is that when we do the never-ending things first (email, cleaning, chores), they become exactly that — never-ending. As a result, we never get to the important things. The longer we wait and procrastinate, the harder the important things are to do. And although we might end the day with a clean house and an empty inbox, there’s never a real sense of accomplishment. We feel out of integrity and never build the confidence required to go after our bigger goals.
Action step: At the beginning of each day determine your 3 most important tasks (M.I.T.’s) and prioritize them. Then force yourself to start at the top of the list and work your way down. Once completed you can get going on the never-ending things.
When you combine the 4 B’s you become unstoppable. You’re able to maximize every single day and get more done than you ever imagined possible.
Download my productivity tip sheet with my top 5 tips to create time for what’s most important. Stop being busy and get more done in less time.