A Google search for “productivity tips” will return hordes of web pages loaded with detailed tips and guides that are supposed to help get you over the hump and out of a slump. However, actually incorporating all of this information into your daily business routine is easier read than done.
Time after time you find yourself reading about a new time-tracking or to-do list app that is going to somehow change your entire philosophy about work. It’s as if you’re searching for that one piece of breakthrough advice or software that will be the game-changing jump start you’ve been needing.
While tools and techniques can definitely simplify processes and boost productivity, the best way to really maximize your potential is to develop and reinstate positive habits. Recall the following short phrases during applicable points in your workday and you’ll start noticing a difference in your daily output in no time:
1. “Right Now I Will Stop Planning and Start Producing”
Thorough planning is an important part of any business endeavor, but too much planning can lead to a lot of wasted time and let-downs. When you repeatedly devise detailed plans and then fail to follow through with them it can be easy to become discouraged and develop a pessimistic mind-set. The fact is, most elaborate business plans do not pan out as originally intended because there are always sudden variables to account for and adjustments that need to be made. Once you’ve decided on a definitive first step in your plan you should get started on it immediately and worry about finishing/revising the grand plan later when you’re not working.
2. “I Need to Finish with Full Focus”
This is a perfect one-liner to recall when you feel yourself slipping into the “I’m almost done” mentality. Most people tend to start slacking when they’ve almost finished a task, rationalizing to themselves “well I only have a little bit left to do, so I can relax a bit now.” At this point it can be easy to get side-tracked and start focusing on another task, or revert to the “what am I going to work on when I’m finished with this” train of thought. To escape this trap you just need to remind yourself that the only thing that matters is finishing the current task with full focus because until that is done you simply cannot proceed.
3. “I Am Working with a Goal and a Purpose”
When you lose sight of your goals it can be easy to fall into a lackadaisical workflow. If you find yourself taking frequent breaks and devoting too much attention to extracurricular activities during work hours, take a minute to think about the most important goals in your life right now. Visualize in your mind what it is you’re working towards, whether it be a new house, a debt-free lifestyle, or a specific electronic gadget. Everyone has something that they really want or need in their life at any given moment. Remind yourself that the work you’re doing is directly related to the accomplishment of those goals and your sense of urgency should return.
4. “When I’m Done Working Everything Will Be More Fulfilling”
We all want to have fun and be entertained; it’s human nature. The problem is oftentimes the drive to have a good time overpowers the will to keep working, especially when you work an internet job, as the world’s entertainment is right at your fingertips. One hasty visit to YouTube or a curious click on a news headline could steal 15-30 minutes of your workday. If you don’t exercise discipline these seemingly small entertainment breaks will pile up and when you’re finally done working you won’t have time to really enjoy the finer things in life, like time with your family and friends. When you catch yourself deviating from work-related activities during work hours just remind yourself that every bit of entertainment will be more fulfilling and you’ll have more money to spend during your free time if you just “keep on keeping on.”
5. “I Still Have Many More Steps to Take”
Our minds are practically programmed to gain satisfaction from a sense of progress, even if that progress does not equate to the completion of a project or the accomplishment of a goal. While it is good to take things one step at a time, it is also imperative to continuously remind yourself that there are more steps to be taken. After you finish a task don’t think to yourself “well now that I’ve done that all I have to do is this and I’ll be done.” That type of thinking breeds laziness and procrastination. Instead, upon completion of a task you should think to yourself, “okay that is done, now I have many more steps to take” and immediately begin working on the next step.
As Managing Director for Real Business Rescue, Keith Tully has been dealing with insolvent businesses in the UK for more than two decades. Here he offers insight on productivity meant to encourage and motivate company directors.