Here at Traffic and Funnels, we're in the “business” of optimizing humans.
I can’t even tell you how many products I’ve seen lately that offer productivity hacks, secrets to getting more done, or a new productivity journal/planner that will change your life and make you 10x more productive.
I could get annoyed by it, but I’d rather seek to understand what all of the hype is about.
We’ve adopted a new phrase here at T&F and it’s starting to catch on that we are actually in the business of optimizing humans.
It’s 100% true.
Everything we do for our staff and our clients is designed to help them achieve everything they want out of life and offer the tools needed for them to reach out and grab it.
So, naturally we’re all about productivity and making the most out of the time that we have.
Productivity is all about making the most of the time you do have.
Let me start off by asking you a question:
How many times have you gotten to the end of your week (or even the end of your day) only to feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and like you’ve been “busy” but haven’t accomplished anything to actually move the needle?
If you’re like me, far too many.
Sure, there are countless books, podcasts, and courses out there on productivity or how to “hack” your biology to help you perform better, but real productivity actually starts with healthy habits.
These habits should help you not only accomplish more, but teach you the things that you should avoid altogether.
The goal of productivity should be: to learn the habits that make you more productive and cut out all of the stuff that takes you off course and drains your energy.
Think about it like healthy eating:
A healthy, well-balanced diet doesn’t tell you to add hundreds of “good things” into your diet. Instead, it helps you stay on track by eating a balanced diet of whole foods while avoiding the things that are bad for you and don’t promote good health.
It’s called addition by subtraction (contrary to Michael Scott, it is possible).
True productivity actually works in the same way.
It’s not about adding a huge list of tasks to each day to accomplish more. It’s about evaluating your capacity and working smarter by controlling the time that you do have – this is accomplished by creating better habits and sticking to them consistently.
If I grabbed your planner and started perusing, there’s a really good chance that half of the things on your to do list for the week shouldn’t even be there.
Everything you do throughout the day needs to contribute to your big goals and what you really want out of life.
So, forget your fancy calendar tech and new flashy task app, grab an old fashioned pen and paper (the richest people in the world still hand write all of their notes, journals, and thoughts) and let’s look at some ways you can increase your productivity the right way.
There’s a really good chance that half of the things on your to do list for the week shouldn’t even be there.
You should think about productivity like a zero-balanced budget:
Think of your daily, weekly, and monthly calendar like a budget. It’s designed to give you freedom, not restrict you. If you tell your time where it needs to go and balance it down to a zero balanced budget, you will feel more in control of your days and will accomplish so much more.
The fastest way to become more productive is to tell your time what it’s going to do for you.
Every hour has a job and every task directs you towards your big goals.
Just like you sit down at the beginning of each month and plan out your finances – i.e big purchases, bill payments, misc expenses – you should be creating a “time budget” that will allow you greater freedom to execute the things that really matter in your days.
Here are several things that we recommend your weekly “time budget” include.
Let’s break it down:
Targets are a big piece of knowing “what” to do each day – you should look at them every day and keep your projects and to dos on track.
It is imperative that you focus on setting quantifiable and measurable targets so that at the end of the month you can track and know whether you’ve hit your big goals (i.e. $800k in revenue, down 20 lbs, etc). If there is no way to measure your targets, you will never reach optimum productivity.
Just like you would plan a budget, you should be planning your “time budget” on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis. The more you can zoom out and plan ahead, the better focus you will have in the day to day.
The problem is that most people can’t do this consistently, but if you do, you will start to notice yourself rising above the pack and getting more done before your peers wake up than you used to accomplish in an entire day.
Others will try to get as much as they can done in a day, get overwhelmed, forget what they’re trying to do, and forget what day of the week it is. Then, someone asks them for a meeting, they say yes and completely lose themselves by the time they get to Thursday.
They have no idea what they did last week, but they know they didn’t really get anything done.
It is imperative that you focus on setting quantifiable and measurable targets
The last thing to budget time for EVERY DAY is personal time.
If you don’t invest in yourself, you will lose sight of your big goals and fall into a vicious cycle of self-doubt, confusion, and fear.
Imagine leaving on a road trip and you’re already running behind schedule.
You left late, and you look down to see that your gas gauge is leaning further to the left than Nancy Pelosi and you say to yourself, “I can’t stop for gas because I’m already running behind and if I stop, it’s going to make me even more late.” So, you keep driving only to run out of gas, get stranded on the highway, and have to completely forfeit your entire trip.
Ok… it might seem like a no-brainer, but SO MANY entrepreneurs and business owners operate this way each. and. every. day.
They don’t take care of themselves, exhausting their unplanned time budgets, and they are never able to reach their full potential.
That’s why, a long time ago, I decided to include a “lag day” in my weekly schedule.
Every Wednesday, I skip the gym, wake up a bit later (not much), and have zero things planned until I go to work. This way, I can read whatever I want, make an extra cup of coffee, relax, or just scroll Facebook – whatever I want that makes me feel happy and recharged.
This keeps me fresh and gives me a nice recharge in the middle of my week.
If you don't practice self-care, you will completely sabotage your productivity.
Things to remember:
Becoming truly productive starts with practicing healthy habits in all areas of your life.
When you’re trying to be productive don’t add one thousand things to your list – practice addition by subtraction.
It is possible to do less and accomplish more with focus, intentionality, and proper planning.
Treat your time and schedule like a zero-balanced budget. Every hour should be accounted for (even free time), so that your time is working for you and not the other way around.
Create and set quantifiable targets that can be tracked. You’ll never know you’ve reached a new milestone if you’re not tracking where you came from.
Be sure to allocate some time every day for self-care. If you don’t, you’ll end up running around like crazy for a couple of weeks only to end up in a ditch by the side of the road with your car completely out of gas and your whole family furious with you for ruining their vacation… There's not a productivity tool on the market that can help at that point.