Have you ever had that nagging feeling that you can be doing more?
Accomplishing way more?
Like you’re supposed to be way further ahead in life?
If you’re anything like me, the feeling can nag at you and almost feel never-ending.
The thought of “I should be doing ________” follows you around, it can haunt you. I’ve struggled with the feeling for years, likely the same way you have.
But this year is different.
I know we like to say “new year, new me”, but seriously, I’ve gotten so much s*** done this year. That nagging feeling is nearly gone!
I’ve been writing more than I ever thought I could. I’m not Ernest Hemingway yet, but I can slowly see and feel a difference in the pieces I’m writing. I’m making more videos for both myself and clients, & absorbing knowledge across a variety of topics at a FAST pace.
I’ve truly transformed how I work through a few key habits and I hope they can help you too.
We all want to be more productive, but what most of us fail to realize is that it’s mostly a matter of changing how we work. That and being open to the change.
There’s a meme going around now that’s pretty popular. It’s a little cliche, but I like it because it highlights the need for change. Changes most of us likely need to make to become our version of successful.
I’ve made many changes this year that have really skyrocketed my productivity, and I hope they can do the same for you. I wish I could go back 2 years and give myself these exact tips.
Although not all of these changes are easy, they’re all worth it. Without further ado, let’s get into it…
1. Making Time For The S*** That NEEDS To Get Done
If you haven’t heard of the book Deep Work by Cal Newport, here’s a quick summary:
We are all distracted 24/7 in this world.
Social media, email, phone calls, text messages, Whats App, slack groups, telegram groups, you name it. All of these small distractions can make it so hard for us to actually produce things and make meaningful progress towards our goals.
Distractions take away our ability to think deeply. How can you really think when you know you have 15 different notifications to tend to?
The main idea in Deep Work is that the ability to take 1 task and focus on it for 2-3 hours at a time is becoming rare in society. The author, Cal Newport, makes it clear that this ability to focus on a single task for large amounts of time can make you special in today’s world.
When was the last time you worked for an hour or two straight, without looking at a single notification or scrolling through Instagram?
It makes perfect sense.
Think about the process of writing a long blog post for example. Let’s say your goal is to write a post that is 2,000 words. Which is a decent amount for any writer to get through. Sure, you could have 4 writing sessions when you write 500 words a piece, but why not have 2 sessions where you write a strong 1,000?
To be straightforward – you don’t have to be a math wiz to see how this level of focus can separate you.
Deep Work isn’t an easy habit to build (like many good habits), but once you do, you’ll unlock a version of yourself that can achieve so much more.
While getting more into the habit of doing Deep Work, one of the toughest things for me to do was (and sometimes still is) to stop checking social media so often, which brings me to my next point…
2. Less Social Media (especially on breaks)
I know, I know, you’ve heard it before, but hear me out!
I used to think that “taking a break” meant scrolling through social media to see what the world is up to.
Damn, I was wrong.
After reading through a ton of productivity tips, one common theme I noticed was how many of these experts stayed away from social media as a “break”. They make it clear that according to modern science, your brain is actually still working and consuming thoughts while you’re on social media. You’re processing other people’s thoughts, ideas & emotions constantly.
I was skeptical at first because… how bad could it be?
But then I gave it an honest try for 1 week.
I decided that instead of social media, I would either use the breath application on my Apple Watch or meditate for 5 minutes using the Headspace app. I did this for 4 days straight. By the end of the 4th day, I had promised myself to use way less social media (at least on weekdays) so that I can truly focus.
It’s amazing how much extra space to think that you gain when your mind isn’t consumed by social media at all. I suddenly felt like I had more time, my brain was producing creative ideas with ease, and life felt a little easier in general.
This extra space away from social media feels very awkward if you’re used to being on constantly. I suggest trying to fill the space with a practice that is literally built to clear your mind and keep you level headed, meditation.
3. Is Your Mind Here, Now?
I like to meditate in the morning before I get my day started. It makes me feel at ease and ready to embrace the present moment throughout the day.
Not only do I use meditation to get my day started, but I also use it to take breaks. It’s a great way to maintain your energy throughout the day because you’re giving your mind the chance to not think about anything for a few minutes.
If your mind never really stops talking, this will change your life.
We are constantly thinking 24/7. We even obsess over things we can do nothing about.
One of my favorite books is The Power of Now, because it really drives home the point about being aware of and into the present moment. At some point, we have to accept that what has happened in the past is something we can’t change and what will happen in the future can only be prepared for so much.
Meditation is a great way to remind your brain of what you actually want to focus on and training your mind to shut up!
Focus on what you can do now and always remember, half of your mind’s chatter is BS.
4. Making My Schedule Work FOR ME
As a modern-day marketing professional, I love to read. In fact, I have to if I want to keep up with my industry. It’s part of my job to read about marketing because it’s always changing.
But, is that the number one thing that I should be focused on? Should that be the number 1 thing on my to-do list?
Asking myself this question revealed a lot to me. The main thing I noticed is how I’ve prioritized things like reading over writing in the past, but why would I do that??
If my goal is to connect with people, reading isn’t going to help me reach that goal. It’s simple. But writing? Writing allows people to learn about how I can help them, what I do in my work and connect with people which is the real goal. Realizing this made me put reading on the back-burner within my morning routine.
We only have so much energy in a day, but the good news is that most of the time, we start out with a full tank of energy to be used how we please. If you start with less energy because you didn’t get sleep or something in your routine is off, this is even more reason to prioritize.
This one simple change has helped me remain laser-focused on what’s important.
Maybe you want to lose weight or work on your physique and that’s really important to you right now. Well, if that’s the case, one of the things you should be thinking about daily is working out or hitting the gym. Prioritize it.
No one knows about your dreams and goals more than you do, which is why no one but you can build a life that supports them.
5. Production, Production, Production…
If you want to be productive, you have to produce things…
Read that again.
It seems so obvious, but yet we have all been in that circle of research or doing other things that aren’t actually the act of producing something. When you don’t want to actually produce something for whatever reason, it’s so easy to make excuses for yourself.
I have been guilty of this in the past.
To make things even worse, your brain associates things like research with actually producing things, making you feel like you’ve done tons of work. Of course, you have done “work”, but what is there to show for it? There should always be something, anything, to show for it.
For example, let’s say I want to be a baker. I love baking and look forward to the challenge of becoming one of the best bakers in the world.
Well, of course I’m going to watch YouTube videos, read about other bakers, study their craft, learn the advanced tricks, etc. These are all logical places to start learning. But at some point, I have to bake!
In fact, after some research, it’s probably best that I just start baking like a mad man. Cookies, cakes, bread, pastries, Pillsbury products, yes everything.
It sounds so simple, but that’s not what most of us do.
Instead, we learn about the best cookie baker, then the best bread baker, then this woman in Ethiopia who came up with a recipe of her own. We go down this rabbit-hole and avoid actually making cookies. Sure, your cookies might suck, but it’s better to know that and fix them now so you can grow and eventually become that best baker.
I say all that to say – Get your reps up.
I’m living proof. Although writing is new to me and I don’t have an audience of millions, guess what? I don’t care. All I know is that I’m getting reps up and possibly helping people, whether that’s now or in the future.
Go Achieve Your Wildest Goals (!!)
Change is hard.
If you like the ideas in this post, I suggest you take just 1 or 2 to start. I can promise that’s all it will take to feel a difference in yourself.
If you do try these, please let me know how they work for you. I typically write about video marketing, but enjoy writing these posts in hopes that they can help at least one person.
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