I don’t consider myself an expert or the smartest person in the room by any stretch of the imagination. BUT I’ve learned to experiment and master tools, techniques, and strategies to make me the most productive.
Which in translation allows me to accomplish the goals I set out to accomplish.
At the end of the day, that’s what we all truly want. It’s not to prove how smart we are but to continuously succeed in life.
Life throws many curve balls at us… making it harder for us to achieve what we set out to achieve.
There are many examples of this:
- Feeling tired
- Sick (or other serious illnesses)
- Friends and family
- Working a full-time job
Life in general doesn’t care about your goals and what you want to succeed. You have to be able to work through those challenges to achieve what you want.
There is one thing I can attribute to my success… mastering my daily habits.
“It will be difficult to break the habits of thinking Abnegation instilled in me, like tugging a single thread from a complex work of embroidery. But I will find new habits, new thoughts, new rules. I will become something else.”
― Veronica Roth, Divergent
By mastering my habits I have been able to accomplish some amazing goals while faced with the same challenges everyone else faces in life. I’ve been able to publish a book, launch and exit a startup, become a successful freelancer, PMP Exam prep course, and build a following of subscribers to my blog.
Your likelihood of succeeding is increasingly low without having daily habits that are in line with the goals you want to accomplish.
There are 5 key principles that I focus on that helps me to be the most productive I can on a daily basis to sustain my daily habits. Following these principles will allow you to do the same for your goals as well.
When I became more aware of what I was doing, how I was doing it, the time I was doing it, and where I was doing it I became significantly more productive.
Awareness is another way of saying that you’re doing things with more intention instead of just going through the motions.
Prior to this I had goals, but I would just wake up without any plans of what was happening or why it was happening.
I transitioned to paying attention to when I went to sleep, what time I wake up, the first things I did when I woke up.
Other things I payed attention to was the optimal times I had the most and least energy during the day.
Example: I wake up every morning at 5:00 AM and I am consistently at my highest peak of being awake at 5:16 AM. That’s when I’m full present to the world.
I generally work out every morning at 6:00 AM, and after my workouts is when I’m fully energized to do my most creative work.
Sounds backwards, but it’s true. I didn’t realized this until I started to experiment overtime.
It’s important that you start becoming more aware of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. That’s when you will start be become more consistent and more productive in your habits.
Your awareness (or lack there of) is key to building consistent habits which leads to you being the most productive you can be.
You may roll your eyes at this if you’re not accustomed to working out.
The most successful people know that exercise is the key to mentally and physically pushing themselves further, though some are more willing to keep up the habit than others. — Credit Business Insider
As I mentioned above, I’m at my peak productivity right after I work out. Why is this?
An increase in endorphin levels “Endorphins are our body’s natural hormones that get released when we are doing something that requires a burst of energy — they are the things that make us perform, make us move,” says Dr. Gotlin. “Exercise tends to increase those levels.” It’s the endorphin release that contributes to the feeling of euphoria commonly known as “runner’s high.”
This is the high that fuels my brain functions, and my willingness to keep pushing through my most challenging projects.
Naturally right after I workout, I proactively plan to execute on my top three items to do for that day.
This approach may not work for you like it does for me, but it’s worth “experimenting” with if you’re struggling with your current strategy.
Prepping my meals each week benefits me in several ways: 1 — it helps me to keep my finances in check to prevent unnecessary spending on food, 2 — helps me to prepare healthy meals to correlate with my workouts, 3 — allows me to spend less time thinking about what I’m going to cook each day.
Overall this supports my ability to mindlessly consume my daily meals and use more of my energy on achieving my goals.
I do my grocery shopping every Sunday which includes food for myself, my wife and two teenagers.
We then cook our meals on that same day, then store them away for the rest of the week. Each day we simply grab those meals then heat and eat.
Many people struggle with this because they aren’t sure what food to choose, how to store it away, etc.
Don’t over think it… put a quick plan together, then iterate each week until you land on the perfect fit for yourself or your family.
I can’t stress this enough… you MUST plan the critical (or creative) activities you need to get done each day.
As I mentioned at this beginning of this article, life gets in the way and doesn’t care what goals you want to achieve.
In order to overcome life’s challenges you must plan what you want to get done. You may be working a full-time job (40+ hours/week), obligations to your family, functions you’re a part of in your community.
These are all things that will get in your way and can get quite frustrating if you don’t plan for them. Daily, weekly and monthly planning is a necessity.
I plan my daily event for the upcoming week every Sunday night at 8:00 PM. This allows me to plan out the days and time slots I’m going to have my appointments, serve my clients, work on creative projects, daily writing, and other obligations.
Simply taking these things on day-by-day wouldn’t work for me.
Use tools like an app calendar, Evernote for note taking, REV audio to create audio notes, if you’re old school… use a planner to write down your plan for the week.
Planning my activities out has proven to be a winning strategy for me and I know it will work for you.Say No More Than You Say Yes
This one is hard to do when you first make the transition. Saying no will require you to say no not only the things personally for yourself, but to friends and family as well.
Saying no more than you say yes is something that you will get better at over time.
All this really means is that it’s up to you to prioritize where you spend your time at. Once I mastered this and trained others how to respect my time it got easier.
If you have a family it’s critical that you proactively train this to respect your calendar. When they are planning things that requires your attention and time they do it with your calendar in mind.
It’s the reason I mentioned previously why you must have a calendar.
Saying no to your friends is a little bit easier than your family. Your friends will hit you up for happy hours, dinner get-togethers, watch the game or other things.
With only 24 hours in a day, you’ll need to make the hard decision of saying yes or no to their request.
I’ve found it to be easier to let me friends know that I’m free on a particular day and if that can’t work then we’ll connect another time.
This may seem harsh, but which do you value more your goals or keeping your friends happy. My mentality is if I lose a friend over that then they’re not truly my friend.
Additionally, you must be able to have the discipline to say no to yourself. Spending hours scrolling social media, binge watching Netflix, and other time wasting activities.
Once I started to cut these things out then I found more time in my day to work on my goals.Summary
Above are the 5 key areas that I focused on when it comes to developing habits to be my most productive.
With everything that I’ve mentioned above, there isn’t a right or wrong way to get it done. The only thing that matters most is what works for you.
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