Do you want to be more productive in 2016?
What does being productive even mean?
It’s not simply getting more done, but getting the right things done, done well, and done cheerfully.
Whether or not you want to do more in 2016, I bet you want to do what you do better – whether that means more consistently, more joyfully, or more skillfully.
Just because I write about productivity and organization doesn’t mean I have it all together. It just means I’m always paying attention and trying to improve. I write what I need to hear myself as much as what I’ve learned and what I do.
I noticed one thing in 2015: When I forgot an appointment or dropped a ball, it was due to my not following one of these 5 essential productivity habits. If we can hone in on these practices, we will become more effective in and more satisfied with our work.
Habit #1: A Weekly Review
30-60 minutes, once a week.
David Allen of GTD fame calls the weekly review the linchpin of his system.
A system – the calendar, lists, and notes that help us keep track of details – grows weeds. The weekly review is when we pull those weeds and lay down some mulch. It is when we review what we’ve tossed into inboxes, make sure our task lists are up to date, and make sure we’re going to be prepared for what’s coming.
More on the weekly review practice:
Habit #2: An Evening Review
5-10 minutes, every evening.
Rather than make your plan for the day in the morning, try making it the night before. You’ll wake up with a plan of action already prepared and ready to begin.
I found that in the morning, I would make an overly ambitious and hopeful plan. I was fresh, I had coffee, I was up before the kids, and I would think that this was the day everything was going to go smoothly.
However, in the evening, I am wrapping up the day and evaluating with a sober reality-check what really happened. I have a clear perspective about what is most important for the next day, and I recognize just how little discretionary time I have. In the evening, I make a better plan for the day.
More on an evening review:
3. Brain Dumps
A brain dump is when you get everything out of your head and onto paper. It’s a way to clear your mental cobwebs and set things in order. Your mind isn’t a place to hold things, it’s a place to think about things. So, if you use paper to hold things, your mind will be free to think about them.
Whenever I start to feel a little crazy or I have a project with many details, I need a brain dump to make sure I remember everything and can keep track of it outside of my head, some place where I can see the details when I need to.
A brain dump is the best place to begin when you’re getting organized, and a brain dump is the practice to return to any time you start to feel life is getting a little out of hand.
More on brain dumps:
4. Ubiquitous Capture
all the time
The flip side of a brain dump is the ubiquitous capture habit. Ubiquitous means everywhere. You should always have a way to write things down, anywhere and everywhere.
Then, write it down, right away.
If we can build the habit of writing things down right away instead of trying to remember them in our heads, we’d lose less information and feel more confident in our abilities to track details.
More on ubiquitous capture:
5. EHAP – Everything Has A Place
big project, then 15 minute daily upkeep
In our house, we call our evening tidying time EHAP, an acronym for Everything Has A Place. The implication is that everything needs to return to its place if it’s on a table or on the floor.
However, before we can have the habit of daily EHAP, everything actually does need to have a place. We can’t put things away if there is no designated away home. If we’re going to keep something and not toss it, we have to be willing to give it a home.
It takes a lot of practice before others might learn where each items home is, but it begins with us decluttering and assigning homes throughout the house. It’s a project worthy of a year’s worth of baby steps, but it pays us back so richly for the effort.
More on EHAP:
These are the habits that you need to maintain momentum in the day-to-day and not get bogged down or run down. But, because this is the first full week in January, you might also need some help making realistic goals that align with your responsibilities.
If so, this is for you.
I’ve made available one of the videos from Work the Plan, free for you. Use it and these habits to get some traction this year.