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The 5 Steps to Productivity

Updated: Sep 9, 2019

I never through of myself as a perfectionist, until one day a manager that I had asked me if I was one. My understanding was that perfectionism was for people who either never made mistakes or who were so scared of making the wrong decision that they didn't do anything.

I did not fall into those categories although I now realise that I had a lot in common.

I was someone who was being productive. Although it didn't matter how early I got into work, how busy I was and how late I left, I was still left feeling dissatisfied and with the sneaking suspicion that I had not done enough.

I had a very long to do list. But I suppose that is the nature of life and doing. When we complete something it always leads to something more to do. So In that old job, if I wrote the bid to get funding for a new post, it would then mean I had to go through the multiple stages of HR processes to recruit, once we successfully recruited, there was planning the staff induction, then there on going management, then their work may create potentially more projects. It's a never ending stream. No matter what I ticked off the list, the list grew longer.

So being productive is more than "get stuff done = feel better"

I am about to revolutionise your relationship with your preconceptions about productivity. These 5 steps work as they enable you to be honest with yourself about what you are spending your time doing, be honest with yourself about the time those things take to to do.

We know that people who feel that they are bad at time management tend to grossly under estimate or overestimate how long tasks will take. The 5 steps make you be realistic with how long tasks take you will be able to adjust your sense of what it means to be productive.

Believe it or not multitasking hinders accuracy and whilst having a couple of tasks to switch between can be useful for productivity, anything other than small levels of multitasking can hinder productivity. So these steps allow you to let go of some of the tasks that you are multitasking and helps your focus on the biggest priority. Speaking of priorities, it can help with procrastination as it is giving your the ownership and responsibility to ask yourself, is what I am doing right now my number one priority?

Finally, the 5 steps acknowledge your achievements. Each short activity is an achievement in it's own right. Whenever we perceive success it helps boost motivation and can create a feeling of pride. So by having a designated time to celebrate achievement and knowing that each task is a success can boost your overall productivity. This is the key to being productive whilst also feeling better.

Step 1: Download and print the "To Do Now" sheet from the free resources page.

If your don't have access to a printer you can get a piece of paper or a note book and divide the paper into the headings. Place the sheet in a prominent position such as next to your PC or where you charge your phone. Or make it portable and have it in your notebook or diary.

Step 2: Get some post-it notes and for every task that swirls around your mind write each one on it's own sticky note.

These can be work related, self care or even the things that you procrastinate with! Examples include:

  • Send email to Chris

  • Update spreadsheet with data

  • Confirm room booking with

  • Mindmap out the next session plan

  • Find statistics for introduction to report

  • Find a supplier for...

  • Browse facebook

  • Say no to Jenny

  • Prep lunch

  • Buy a brush from boots

  • Practice 10 minutes of mindfulness

  • Complete a 40 minute workout

  • Check the sports results

  • Play candycrush

  • Visit Becky

  • Read the news

  • Worry about...

Step 3: Place all the post it notes on to do later

It doesn't matter if you haven't got everything down. You can think of more later. As things pop up you can add them to the post-it. Some people find it helpful to have a different colour post it for big goals and ideas that haven't been broken down into small actions but in my experience those big ideas soon translate into smaller tasks.

Step 4: Place one post it not on "To Do Now" and do it.

Choose one sticky not for right now. If you choose one and your mind keeps going to another ask yourself why.

Remember that you are allowed to prioritise self care. You are allowed to change your mind about your priority as you progress. If you change your mind too frequently you are allowed to to pause for a minute to reflect on why and to keep with one task.

If you find yourself not doing the task on "to do now" currently doing you have two options.

1) Return to the task.

2) Take the post it note that is on "To Do Now" and place it on "To Do Later"

If you have been procrastinating it may be because you have been working for too long and need a break. be honest with yourself and take a recharging break

If you are procrastinating because the task you are doing is difficult or unpleasant. It is not going to get any less unpleasant in the future. Either do it now or give yourself permission to not ever doing it and bin it. (Remember you will have to deal with the consequences of this)

Step 5: Place on achieve when done

This is the most important part. You are acknowledging an end to that task. At the end of the day you can peel off the pile of achieves. If a perfectionist voice tells you that they aren't enough remind yourself that you made those decisions and priorities based on what you were experiencing at the time.

Give each item a moment of contemplation. We spend much of the day honed towards the future spend now celebrating today's achievements.

If you would like someone to support you through this process then consider a coaching package from MoodLifter.

Sarah is an Occupational Therapist and personal trainer who is passionate about helping people flourish @MoodLifterPT

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