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Struggling with Productivity? Here’s How to Change that in 10 Steps

Let’s face it, productivity is a struggle. Even if we are productive people, some days we just don’t have the mindset we need to get everything done, or end up wasting most of the day away and work into the night just to hit our deadlines. When this cycle continues, we end up with a work – sleep – work – sleep cycle that leaves us no time to relax or plan for the future. 

In The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management, Hyrum Smith does not simply tell you how to get more done in the same amount of time, but changes the way you think about productivity and time management in relation to whether or not you feel inner peace and fulfillment by the action you do take. 

“But isn’t productivity about getting more done?” Yes, it is, but it’s also about getting enough done so that you feel a sense of progress, accomplishment, and feel ready to set aside what you’re working on at the end of the day or week and feel ready to relax. So, how do you achieve this? Here are 10 steps to follow to become more productive – and more relaxed – by the end of the day. 

Step 1: Mindset Shift: Stop Thinking About Productivity and Start Thinking About Control 

If you’re here reading this article one thing has driven you here: a lack of control. You don’t feel like you have control over your own actions or your own time and you feel as though everything runs away from you before you can really get a hold of it. If you’re going to become truly productive you need to stop thinking about how you can get more done in the same amount of time, and start thinking about what you need to do to control the outcomes of your work. 

Step 2: Define Your Personal Values 

If you’ve spent a lot of time in the business world, you will have heard people tout the importance of finding your “why”. Those core beliefs and values that drive you forward to achieve your desires. Even if you’ve defined your business’s why, you need to redefine your own values. Ask yourself, “what my highest priorities in life?” “What do I value most?” Often, if you’re struggling with productivity it’s because you’ve lost sight of why you’re doing it. 

Step 3: Create a Vision 

What do you want your daily life to look like? What do you want your time off to look like? What do you want your life to look like in five years’ time? Spend some time daydreaming and write down what you’d like your daily life to look like. 

Step 4: Set Fresh Goals 

Sit down with your newly defined values and set new goals. They may be the same goals you had before, or they may be new, but they should be framed clearly within your values. For example, instead of saying “I want to make $4,000 this month in my own business,” define it as “I want to make $4,000 this month, without working long hours, so I can be free from a job and spend more time with my daughter.” Set just 3 core goals for the coming month or quarter. 

Step 5: Outline How You Can Leave Your Comfort Zone 

There’s a saying that you can’t grow until you leave your comfort zone, and that’s certainly true here. The problem with our comfort zone is that it keeps us from making progress and so makes us feel unproductive, or leads us to do lots of tasks that tick off the to-do list but aren’t actually helping us make forward progression. For each of your goals, write down one small way you can step outside your comfort zone. 

Step 6: Find a To-Do App or Diary that Works for You 

Everyone likes planning differently; some like to create their own bullet journals to handwrite their daily tasks, while others like to use a simple app like Todoist. Whatever you use, start setting yourself a daily to-do list each morning, and keep it accountable. Don’t do this at the beginning of the week, as it’s not flexible enough, you need to prep for the day ahead in the morning. A post-it will do – just don’t overcomplicate it and start procrasti-planning (planning as a form of procrastination). 

Step 7: Set a Reminder to Check-In with Yourself 

Set a reminder every few hours or so to check in with yourself and ask if what you’re doing is on-task and working toward ticking off something on your to-do list. If not, it’s time to get back on track. 

Step 8: When You Catch Yourself Procrastinating, Dive Deeper 

When you inevitably catch yourself procrastinating, ask yourself if it’s a momentary lapse, a predetermined break, or if something bigger is at play. Often, we self-sabotage ourselves and our productivity due to negative beliefs we hold, such as “there’s no point because I’m not good enough for this anyway”. Or, “I have to pause to take frequent breaks and work longer hours because that’s just how my brain works.” Outline the negative belief and see it for what it is – a lie. 

Step 9: Rewrite Negative Beliefs as Positive Ones 

When you realize you’re doing something that’s essentially self-sabotage, and outline the negative belief, rewrite it as something positive. So, if you wrote down “there’s no point because I’m not good enough for this anyway”, write down “I can finish this quickly because I’m good at it and my customers love what I do.” 

Step 10: Be Aware of a Scarcity Mindset 

Sometimes, these negative beliefs come in the form of a scarcity mindset, which is not negative toward yourself is negatively impacting you. For example, you may take all week to work with one client because you’re worried that another client won’t come along at the end of the week, and then you’ll feel like a failure. Problem is, you can’t do the work to gain more clients until you pause to get more, so avoid limiting yourself because you don’t believe there is “enough” of something. There’s always more. 

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