Increasing Your Productivity

Everyone wants to boost their productivity, whether it’s at your day job or your personal development goals. Why does it seem so difficult?
One of the reasons many people fail to see results when attempting to increase productivity is because they don’t realize there are two very different levels to which attention must be paid. Focusing on one to the exclusion of the other will usually result in only short-lived gains if not outright failure.

As the title of this article suggests there is big-picture productivity and little-picture productivity. This article will explain both and give you plenty of tips for boosting each of them.
Big-Picture Productivity
Big-picture productivity involves stepping back and taking a look at yourself from a bird’s eye view. These are larger basic traits and characteristics about yourself that you need to keep an eye on or develop. The following are 4 dimensions of big-picture productivity that fit firmly into the realm of personal development. Keeping an eye on how you’re doing with these will keep you heading in a solid, forward-moving and very productive direction:

  • Taking initiative
    If you have developed a pattern of merely reacting to situations, circumstances and other people, you need to start looking for opportunities to take initiative. You can’t just wait for things to get better, you need to actively start making it happen. As Gandhi famously said, be the change you seek. Just keep taking initiative until it becomes a habit.
  • Envisioning your future
    You need to have a destination in mind or the journey doesn’t make much sense, however enjoyable aimless wandering may be. What kind of person do you want to be? What do you want to accomplish in your life? When you answer those questions, then you can map out goals and objectives and an action plan for getting there.
  • Saying no
    Another critical thing to develop is the power to say no to those things that aren’t helping you move forward. Maybe that means cutting out television if it’s sucking up too much time and not adding value to your life. Maybe that means spending less time with negative people that bring you down rather than build you up. Maybe that means stopping unhealthy eating habits or not getting enough sleep. When you say no to the things that hold you down, you’re automatically saying yes to a whole new world of possibilities.
  • Seeking common ground
    It’s easy to be combative and confrontational, but where does it get you in the end? Nowhere. To keep yourself moving in a positive and productive forward direction, you need to cooperate with others in the areas upon which you can agree. By emphasizing what you have in common with others, the differences and disagreements that remain won’t hold both parties hostage.

Little-Picture Productivity
Now that you know what to pay attention to in the big picture, there are also all kinds of things you can do to be more productive when you actually start working on any given task or project. Things to try at this level include the following:

  • Work on the tough stuff first
    It can really help to start tackling the thorniest problems when you’re at your freshest. Once your energy starts to drain, take a break or switch to another task that’s less difficult. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean first thing in the morning, it means figuring out your most productive times of day.
  • Eliminate distractions
    This can be tough in the digital age when various social media, websites and email keep demanding your attention. Turn them off and get to work. This also means making sure you’re working in a physical environment that helps you be productive. If music helps you, play it. If sitting in a coffee shop with your laptop helps, go there. A change of location once in a while may need to be explored if you get stuck.
  • Get the tools you need
    A cook that doesn’t have any pots, pans, utensils or raw ingredients is going to have a tough time preparing a meal. If you don’t have what you need for a task or project, re-schedule it until you do, otherwise you’re wasting valuable time.

Just remember that in order to boost and maintain higher levels of productivity, you need to pay attention to both the big-picture dimensions and the little-picture tools and tricks. When you learn how to balance your productivity efforts between these two different but essential levels, you’ll be well on your way to a highly productive life.

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