My empty nest this Fall is going to be BUSY. I’m working on my book. I’ve started a new hobby. I’m still working full-time. I’m building a fun little candle business. AND of course I’m continuing to build this website to help empty nest moms!
I was observing some ants recently and was reminded of the scripture in Proverbs 6:6 “Consider the ant, you sluggard.” Now, I don’t fancy myself as a sluggard, BUT I started thinking about the ants and how productive and what good workers they are.
- The ant is diligent
- The ant works in silence
- The ant can get a little mean if you get in it’s way (Texas Fire Ants! eek!)
- The ant is persistent
- The ant cleans up after itself
I decided I better give myself a refresher on some productivity tips so I can be as wise as an ant and accomplish my goals for the end of the year. I’m betting you may like a few of these, if not all!
12 Rules to Increase Your Productivity
Does your productivity ever get hampered by your desire to find the best possible solution? I call it “over thinking.” As you seek the easiest or fastest route to your goal, you may find yourself stopped entirely. Sometimes you may even do this on purpose, to keep from having to make a decision. I’ve been prone to do this as well. But this Fall and Winter, I have no time for that!
However, there’s a work-around. Maybe you’ve heard of the term, “heuristic.” Heuristics are rules that allow a solution to be found more quickly. With a heuristic, a resolution can be found even when the entire path isn’t clear from the onset.
For example, if there were no roads, but you lived in New York and wanted to make your way to California, a heuristic might be:
1. Walk west as far as you can.
2. Walk around any obstacle, if possible.
3. If faced with a mountain range, walk toward the space between 2 small peaks.
4. Repeat until reaching California.
Does this heuristic give you the most efficient solution? No; however, it will get you where you want to go, and you won’t waste a lot of time trying to make up your mind.
Try these behavioral heuristics to increase your productivity:
1. Choose the right time. Nearly everyone has times of the day when they are most effective and times when they tend to drag. It’s smart to schedule the most critical tasks for your most effective time of the day.
2. Toss it. If a task doesn’t really need to be done, just get rid of it altogether.
3. Get the bad stuff out of the way. Do the unpleasant items quickly and as early in the day as possible. Brain Tracy calls it Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time“. It’s a GREAT book!
4. Set a goal each day (or night). In the morning, decide what you want to accomplish that day. This can be even more effective when planned the night before. Once you have a sense of direction, you can spend all your time getting things done!
5. Eliminate all communication. While you’re working, turn off the phone / cell phone, and don’t check your email. Hang a sign that says, “Do not disturb,” if necessary. You don’t have to do this for all your tasks, but at least do it during the more difficult items.
6. Batch similar tasks together. Do all your emailing at one time. Make all your phone calls at another. Open your snail mail during a set block of time. You’ll waste less time by doing your work in this fashion.
7. Set a timer. Even if a task might take hours, starting will seem easier if you simply give yourself 25 minutes to get as much done as you can. A time limit seems to help many people concentrate and work better, too. I really started using this method more the past few weeks and I can attest that it really helps!
8. Set targets. For example, if you have to make cold-calls for your sales job, tell yourself that you’re not getting up for any reason until you’ve made at least 100 calls. Regardless of what happens, refuse to stop until you hit your target.
9. Use the Pareto Principle. This principle states that 20% of the actions you could take will provide you with 80% of the benefits. So focus on the tasks that will accomplish the most. Unfortunately, these are frequently the tasks that are not enjoyable. You might be surprised how little you really have to do if you focus on the critical 20%.
10. Delegate some of your work. Is there anyone else who can help you? The people around you are resources. When appropriate, use their time and talents wisely to get things done more quickly.
11. Set a deadline. Having a specific endpoint will really help to focus your time and energy. If a task doesn’t feel necessary, chances are that it won’t get done.
12. Increase your speed. It sounds silly, but this can really help. Try doing everything a little faster. Walk faster, talk faster, type faster, and read faster.
Implement these heuristics into your life and you’ll find yourself getting more done in less time. The ultimate secret is to stay on task and not waste any time. These rules will help you do just that.
Kim Steadman is the COOP (Chief Online Operating Person) for The Re-Feathered Nest. A place of encouragement for moms entering the Empty Nest Zone who find they need to Re-Purpose and Re-Design their lives now that the kids have flown the coop. Kim can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheRefeatheredNest and on Google+ at +Kim.