Humans are all the same - we can be lazy, lack motivation, and are hardwired to take the easy route (which usually means chillin' on the couch rather than working out, or doing whatever else it is that you really need to be doing).
I am no different, yet I left my job to build a very profitable business, with 2 young kiddos at home, and these are the only productivity hacks that have ever worked for me.
Productivity Tip #1:
Put your body into motion before your brain has time to make excuses.
This means you literally do not think about it - you JUST GET UP AND GO DO IT.
"The 5 Second Rule is simple. If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it."
As soon as you get that thought in your head of the thing you have to do (as simple as wiping the counter or complex as filing your taxes or updating your resume), count down from 5-4-3-2-1, then blast off like a rocket ship and go DO it.
For easy tasks, just complete it right away. For complex tasks, starting it is enough.
For example, if you need to go workout, count down from 5, blast off and go get your shoes on.
If you need to update your resume, 5-4-3-2-1 blast off and open your old resume, find a new template and tips, and start small.
Once you've conquered those impossible 5 seconds to get up and actually start the project, YOU ARE GOOD. (Keep reading for my second tip on how to STAY in the productive mode - it's a good one and super easy).
The biggest hurdle to overcome when trying to accomplish something, no matter how small, is just the simple act of starting.
Because as you know, our brains will make every excuse in the book NOT to do something (aka procrastination). But, once you start, you WILL keep going, because a body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest.
You won't back out once you've already started, because it's harder for your brain to make excuses to STOP doing the project once you've begun.
So try it now.
Pick something easy: go get your laundry, wipe the counter, send that email, do a quick home workout.
Once you think of what you need to do:
- STOP THINKING.
- Count down from 5 like a rocket ship about to blast off (5-4-3-2-1)
- GO. Blast your body off the couch or out of bed and go do it.
It is NOT negotiable. Once you know what you have to do, you do it.
The trick is to avoid consulting your excuse-laden brain. Because 99% of the time, YOUR BRAIN WILL TALK YOU OUT OF IT. Your body knows what to do, no need to think about it and risk letting your brain decide otherwise.
Productivity Tip #2:
Create really small tasks on your to-do list to make the next step clear, easier to take action on, and to keep yourself WINNING.
The problem with my old to-do lists was that they included huge tasks that I could never find time for.
- Write new blog post
- Create new product
- Post to social media
And when I sat down to complete one of them, I found myself stuck, not sure where to start, and I'd get easily distracted and never finish anything.
And then I found this article touting a new to-do list method full of small steps. I skipped a lot of the technical stuff he talks about in the middle and took away the main points:
- The old to-do list system creates procrastination because tasks are so large that you get stuck on where to begin so you just don't, and since you don't check off your large to-do item until it's complete, it creates guilt for not completing the huge task.
- This new system means you're creating SUPER small steps for each large task, so you know exactly where to begin, what to do along the way, and where to continue if you get interrupted.
- It helps create small wins which make you feel better about yourself (!!!)
On your current, old to-do list, you'd probably just write
- Respond to email from Emily
You know, that pain-in-the-butt email you've been avoiding because you think it'll take you ages to complete and it's full of issues.
In this NEW to-do list, you'll break that one annoying task up into a few smaller tasks so you know exactly what to do and it's less daunting.
- Open email from Emily
- Read email again
- Identify the problem
- Google possible solutions
- Brainstorm additional solutions
- Type response
Now let's find something not work-related. Something we all hate - cleaning.
Instead of "Clean bathroom," which seems so not fun, we'll break it down into small actionable steps:
- Put on music
- Collect cleaning supplies
- Put supplies in bathroom
- Clean toilet with wand
- Clean toilet seat
- Clean sink
- Wipe counter
- Windex the mirror
- Remove the trash
- Take cleaning supplies to kitchen
(And once you start moving and completing tasks, you'll find that it's super easy to keep going and you'll want to continue your cleaning spree to the next room).
Can you see how breaking big to-do's into small tasks makes it easier for your brain to understand what you're doing, what's next, and makes the tasks seem less daunting?
Here are the 4 benefits of this "small steps" to-do list method:
It reduces procrastination because it makes the next action CLEAR and super easy since it's a small task (and there is zero thinking involved, because as I said in Tip #1, if you think too much, your brain will kill the idea).
If you're interrupted (every 3 minutes by a child as I am), your next step is obvious.
You don't have to start from zero, because the next step is written down for you and you can easily pick back up where you left off (since all tasks are small).
It utilizes positive reinforcement and makes you feel really damn productive.
Instead of feeling bad about your old to do list with maybe one item checked off each day, you'll see a ton of items checked off and can go to bed feeling good about your day (and it makes you realize you can accomplish literally ANYTHING if you break it down into small steps).
It gets you in the flow.
We all know that it's easy to stay productive once you start being productive, and with such small tasks to complete, this method keeps you moving forwards.
Remember, any steps you take towards your big goals, no matter how small, is a win. The cumulation of all of those tiny steps you take every day are what will make you successful.
That's it, folks! Free, easy, and once you start accomplishing small tasks using these methods, you'll be blown away how much you can get done in a day and it will just become a way of life.
Leave a comment below and let me know what you conquered today, big or small. =)