5 Ways I Got More Productive In 2015

computerDo you ever get frustrated when someone asks you, “Are you staying busy?”  It’s an odd question isn’t it?  Or why do we often answer the question, “How are you doing?” with “Busy busy busy?”  Is busy a good thing?  Being busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive, it might just mean you’re a poor time manager.  Does anyone really want to be busy?  I don’t want to be busy, I want to be productive.

[Tweet “Being busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive, it might just mean you’re a poor time manager.”]

So what do we do?  I think all of us would say that we could use more time, right?  The only thing is, there isn’t any more time to be had.  We all have 86,400 seconds each day to get done what needs to be done.  So what are you doing with those seconds?  In 2015, I made a concerted effort to make some small changes that would help me become more productive at my craft.  In this digital, social media, news in an instant society, being distracted and diverted from your tasks is prevalent.  So here are 5 things I did in 2015 that I’m going to continue doing in 2016 that have helped me become more productive.

1. Turned off email notifications on my phone — I personally own an iPhone.  I believe all those who love Jesus would choose an iPhone over any other smart phone device.  (That’s a joke by the way.  Please don’t send an email)  Having a device in my pocket that can store more information than my first computer and access nearly everything I need for my job and personal life in an instant is incredibly convenient but also easily distracting.  I have my email app set up on my phone with my work email and three different personal emails, but I noticed that every time the phone buzzed with a new email, or that pretty little icon popped up informing me that I had an email I was compelled to check it.  Many of the emails I would receive were obviously important, but I found myself reaching for my phone with every Redbox promotion that came through or invitation to a portion of a 5 Billion Dollar inheritance from a long lost relative in Kenya just because my phone buzzed or the app had a red number on it.  So I went into my settings and turned off all email notifications AND email fetching.  My email app doesn’t even check for email until I open the app up.  This has been an incredible time saver for me to focus on productivity and not personal email.  I also turned off email notifications on my computer.  There is no ding, chime or any other sound when an email comes in.  If I have another program open I am fully committed to it until I physically look at my email.

2.  Turned off social media notifications — I am a HUGE fan of social media.  I am not a huge fan of how some people act on social media, but the connectivity and information sharing that can be made on social media today astounds me.  I’m not into every social media avenue, but I do use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pretty heavily (in order of my preferred use).  Just like email, I would get alerts when someone commented on something, liked something, private messaged me or poked me (which is weird) on some social media platform.  It can become all consuming.  So I shut off all social media notifications.  I only know when someone likes, comments, follows, pokes or anything else on social media if I physically open the app up on my phone or computer.  This alone has saved me hours of my life to focus on more productive things.

3.  Started using an organization system —  I had read the book, “Getting Things Done” by David Allen and decided it was time to start getting things done.  If you live a stressful, less than productive lifestyle, you might want to check this book out.  From the book I implemented much of his suggested processes for, well, getting things done, and in the process started using a task and project management software/app called Nozbe.  There are tons of organization and management apps out there, this is the one I landed on.  Our whole staff uses it, or at least are supposed to.  I use it for EVERYTHING!  Literally!  There isn’t much in my life that doesn’t get put into Nozbe.  I use it for daily, weekly, monthly and yearly reminders.  I have prayer reminders in there, shopping lists, sermon processes, thank you notes to write, and much more. Nozbe has become my digital brain.  (I use Nozbe so much that my wife and co-workers have begun to make fun of me for it)  If I get an idea on the treadmill I put it in Nozbe to recall later.  It lets me recur tasks, share tasks and assign tasks to other people as well.  Using an organization system has streamlined my work flow.  If it’s important enough to do it’s important enough to be reminded to do it!  I don’t care how you do it, but having some sort of system that helps you get done what needs to be done is priceless.

[Tweet “If it’s important enough to do it’s important enough to be reminded to do it!”]

4.  I started doing daily and weekly reviews —  This might be the biggest change in my productivity.  It’s one thing to put something down as a reminder, it’s another to then plan the time get it done.  [Tweet “It’s one thing to put something down as a reminder, it’s another to then plan the time get it done.”]

So one of my daily reminders, at the end of each day, is to do a daily review where I look at what needs to be done the next day.  Every Monday I end my day reviewing Tuesday’s tasks and so on.  I check my calendar for appointments and my Nozbe for tasks.  Each morning, the first thing I do in the office is organize my Nozbe tasks in the order I want to get them done.  I then start clicking away.  Some days I don’t get certain things done so I move it to a new day.  I never just let a task go unless it becomes irrelevant.  Every Sunday afternoon, I do a weekly review.  I look at all the tasks I have scheduled to get done for the week and my entire calendar for the week.  This helps me see potential time constraints, new tasks that need to get done, or tasks that need to be moved well in advance so I don’t get to the day of and have an “Oh crap” moment.  As I said, this one thing has enhanced my productivity the most so far.

5.  A commitment to exercise —  This isn’t something I started doing in 2015 but I did continue it.  I don’t exercise every day but I do exercise regularly.  Exercise does as much for my mental and emotional well being as it does my physical well being.

[Tweet “Exercise does as much for my mental and emotional well being as it does my physical well being. “]

Whether I’m running, riding the bike, doing the treadmill or lifting weights, physical exercise opens up my mind and heart to new things.  I listen to leadership podcasts and sermons while I workout and I always find myself leaving feeling spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically rejuvenated.  I found that the more I made time to exercise the more wisely I exercised the use of my time.  For me, there is a direct correlation to exercise and productivity.

[Tweet “I found that the more I made time to exercise the more wisely I exercised the use of my time. “]

So that’s it for me.  Five ways I become more productive and will continue to do so.  Hope that helped someone!  Now go get productive!

Jeff Maness
I am a follower of Jesus first, husband to a beautiful wife, father to four amazing children, lead pastor of Element Church in Cheyenne, WY, and blogger of all things life.

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