For years I focused primarily on time management without really emphasizing productivity—with limited success. I found that my to-do lists were growing longer and my output was minimal. Finally in 2016, I started to focus more on my productivity and began to experience real results.
Initially, I spoke with people that I knew personally and had witnessed first hand their excellence in organization and output. I asked them what they were doing to be successful and to get things done. Most said that they had strong habits and established routines. Some admitted that they were OCD about completing routine tasks and big projects. I realized that I needed to do more research and to find a happy medium for myself.
I headed over to Barnes & Noble in Union Square one day on my lunch break and scoured the Self-Help section. I found several books on Time Management, Organization and Productivity. After skimming through them, I purchased books from Stephen Covey, Julie Morgenstern, David Allen, Brian Tracy and such classics as Organizing for Dummies and Time Management for Dummies.
In college, I had read Stephen Covey’s famed tome, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and I was already fond of the Franklin Covey planning system. But, I double-downed and began carrying my planner with me everywhere and using it religiously. I began to really use the planner the way it was intended and in the process became a little bit of a planner lover. I’ve also joined a few planner lover groups on Facebook and went as far as to start decorating my planner (see pictures below).
I began to concentrate on improving my planning and productivity skills as well as my organizational skills. I have to say that it has truly helped me. I am still a work in progress but I find that taking the time to work on me and to get more things done has helped me in all areas of my life. I am getting more things done and I have successfully finished my first novel and published it! Not an easy feat for an independent author!
In the past, I was incredibly hard on myself and was often paralyzed by perfectionism. This often caused me to over-analyze, procrastinate, become anxious and not productive or efficient. And, it was a recurring vicious cycle.
Once I began to study and improve myself in these areas, I began having small successes which led to greater victories. And the more gains I experienced, the more confident I became and the more productive I became. I stepped into a positive cycle of success as opposed to the vicious cycle I was in. It also led me to fulfill the purposes I had found for my life (namely being an author) and allowed me to venture into other avenues I had longed to enter in.
I am still studying and learning new techniques and writing to improve on all areas of my life. I have learned that we are all works in progress and that learning new things and being a better person is all part our individual life long process.
I recommend reading books from the aforementioned authors (all of their books!) if you are having trouble in any of these areas. It was definitely life-changing for me!
Cheers to being productive!