Whatever you do, don’t search “help with productivity”, hoping for an easy fix! Because there isn’t one. You’ll find MILLIONS of pages returned, each with their own slight variation on the theme of “here are the XX number of things you NEED to be doing NOW to be productive”, implying that disaster is looming with a capital D!

Over the last few years, as I’ve built my business, productivity has become something of an interest of mine. I’m fascinated by reading and watching what other people recommend as THE way to increase productivity. And while I’d love to be able to give you my top 3, 4, or 5 tips that I’ve learnt, I’m not going to do that! What! Why not!

Because all the hints, tips, tricks and hacks on productivity in the world won’t work unless you know what will work for you, that’s right – you! Some tips will swear that you MUST rise at 5 am to accomplish your to-do list, but what if you aren’t a morning person? How will that tip work for you? And don’t even get me started when I hear how essential it is to MONO-TASK rather than multitask!

And this is the problem with prescriptive ways of looking at productivity. They don’t take into account your greatest asset – you! How do you like to work, and when are you most energised to tackle tasks? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

So my suggestion towards increasing productivity is to sit with yourself and answer honestly, what works for you? What’s your current situation – do you have multiple conflicting needs that must be met – how can you best manage that in your day? What will your work day look like when so much of our work and lives are unpredictable and unable to be accounted for or considered beforehand? Illness, family needs, client rush jobs, etc. How can you build your work day around flexibility and go easy on yourself?

After a few years of looking at ALL the hints and tricks for increasing productivity, I suspect our craving and need to chase some mythical-unicorn-one-size-fits-all solution to get more done in the day doesn’t exist. And worse, it just feeds into that awful sense of imposter syndrome. We start to think that if we could DO more, we wouldn’t feel quite so anxious.

So what can we do to help us get stuff done? What is a REALISTIC mindset we can have when approaching our work day?

  1. Be realistic. Your to-do list is NEVER going to be entirely ticked. Never. So instead of focusing on the to-do list, focus on the priorities. And don’t forget, always have “make a to-do list” as your first task – the satisfying tick will help motivate you!
  2. Be flexible. Life can be erratic. Plans change, to-do lists need revising, and sometimes you must roll with it! Be honest, is it realistic to be rigid and prescriptive with tasks/meetings/to-dos? Probably not!
  3. Figure out what works for you! Go ahead and look at all the tips and tricks, then filter out what will and won’t work for your situation – and be okay with being flexible with it! Just because something worked miracles for someone else doesn’t mean it will work well for you!
  4. Above all, be kind to yourself. Running a business while caring for families and friends and being a part of your community is hard. Allow yourself some compassion.

In a world that values busyness and what we do, it’s okay to press pause. Finding ways to accomplish everything we need to do is like figuring out how to eat an elephant – we can only do it one bite at a time! It’s okay to take time to understand what works for you and to discard the rest. Even if that means your work day doesn’t “look” like a traditional day. So what small bite of the elephant are you going to take next?

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