Time is our most precious resource. Once we’ve spent it, we can never get it back.
With that in mind, it makes sense to spend our time on what’s most essential in our lives, and to do it in as effectively as possible.
So how do we do that? How do we stay highly productive so we can make progress on our most important goals (without going crazy in the process)?
That’s what I wanted to know when I reached out to the finest productivity experts on coach.me and asked for their advice.
Practicing what they preach, they got back to me FAST with some really great advice. 🙂
[Note from Patrik: Some of the links below are affiliate links. If you sign up for coaching, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost for you. Make sure to use the promo code ‘PATRIKWEEK‘ to get the first week for free! This code will work regardless of which coach you choose to work with.]
“They say 40% of each and every day is simply a set of learned habit you blindly follow. From the place you have lunch everyday to the gym workout you do at 5pm every night to the chocolate cake you gorge on every Saturday night. If you want to truly be productive harness the power of habits to propel you into success in 2016. For instance, I made it a habit to write on Quora each day for 48 days and after simply doing it for a short time but keeping it consistent I was able to break 1,000,000 views on my answers. Now after missing writing for even one day on Quora it feels weird to me. Habits are those actions you take that if you miss them something doesn’t feel quite right. Your life is a collective of these choices you have made in the past and if they don’t reflect your current goals actively choose them and you’ll find you won’t recognize yourself in 3 months.”
— Imran Esmail, Escape Your Desk Job
“The number one change that I recommend to boost productivity is to plan your day the evening before. What meetings or obligations do you have to prepare for? What tasks are you planning to complete tomorrow, and within that list, what are your top three high priority items that represent your long-term goals? Spend the evening planning ahead (when mental energy is exhausted) so that in the morning you can tackle those high priority items with more self discipline, creativity, and enthusiasm. You can hit the ground running and make an impact before the daily distractions of everyday life start to surface.”
— Rob Filardo
“Everyone one starts off super motivated when they begin to tackle a new project or goal. However, they often taper off over time. It becomes ‘work’, or maybe life gets in the way. My advice to someone who might be encountering a slow down is to just do something every day, no matter how small, that is a step toward their goal. Motivation fluctuates, but building the habit that you’ll do something every day will go a long way towards maintaining and building momentum when you can get back into it at full speed.”
— Roger Herzler, UpSparq.com
“Are you BUSY? Or are you PRODUCTIVE? Busy people get manipulated by time, whereas high performers control their time. We hear it all the time, busy people complaining about being TOO BUSY. Well, have you ever heard a productive person complain about being TOO PRODUCTIVE? Being busy is an indicator of time management. Productivity is manifested through a purpose. Stop waiting for a miracle to happen before taking action, stop looking for others to inspire you, because if you can’t inspire yourself to take action then your dreams aren’t big enough! So are you busy or are you productive?”
— Angelo Liloc, AngeloLiloc.com
“Here’s the one of many little tweaks I’ve made this year, that has had the biggest positive impact on my productivity in 2015: Inbox Pause. Get the Inbox Pause plugin for Gmail. It moves your email to your inbox only at specified times. I set mine to 11:00 am and 6:00 pm, where I go into my inbox and clean it all at once. The email-free time before and after is priceless. If you want me to teach you how this works live, plus 12 more changes to help you focus, check out this bonus for Selfication readers.”
— Niklas Goeke, NiklasGoeke.com
“Put no more than 3 action items on your to do list each day. One of those actions is your number one priority. This is the first action on the list. The one thing that you will do first. Start nothing new before you finished this action. It will take some effort to do this. You will change from wanting to get as much as possible done to actually getting your most important thing done.
From efficiently checking items of your todo list to effectively doing the most important thing that you need to do one day at a time. Enjoy your new light todo list.”
— Erno Hannink, #1 Coaching Biz
“Here’s my ‘SEED Strategic Model‘ and it is a strategic framework to skyrocket your productivity:
– Strengths: what are your strengths & capabilities? Work on increasing awareness on what you are good at or skills that you need to acquire. Know what your best working hours are and spend more time there.
– Environment: how is your environment affecting your productivity? Develop an awareness on this and find out what are the distractions or people affecting your current productivity.
– Expectations: do you have high goals/high expectations? if the goals are the fuels, expectation could really be the break, so be careful with your expectations.
– Development: what’s your level of action today? Reorganize your time for email checking, social networks or multi-tasking. Small changes mean big results. Start small by better planning, limit the number of times to check emails, more uni-tasking.
Plant the SEED to maximize your productivity.”
— Costin Ciora, My Productivity Kit
“It’s easy to be really busy knocking stuff off your to-do list but actually achieve very little. To boost your result and maintain balance, get to know why you are doing everything on there – where does it fit into your life? The best way to do this is to take an hour to map your life roles (e.g. partner, parent, businessman, student) and your goals in each. If a task or project doesn’t fit those roles and goals, WHY ARE YOU DOING IT? This helps you say “NO” to unimportant things. Have a great 2016!”
— James Elliott, Productiv.
“Realize that feeling good now is not the answer to long term happiness. Long term happiness, success and peace come when we can overcome the urge for instant gratification. Instead of running away from our feelings we need to face them head-on. Be aware of these feelings and stay with them. Trying to fight or ignore them will only make you more resistant to action.
Identify the negative effects of delaying the task: ‘I end up leaving it until the last minute and I’ll be in a panic’ or ‘It’s stressful to feel like something is left undone.’ Recognize the benefits of starting now: ‘I’ll be free to go out and do what I enjoy, without the guilt and worry about the unfinished task”. Just start! Starting is the hardest thing to do. Break down the big goal into smaller manageable sub-tasks and just start with the easiest task. Once you’re in the flow, the goal will take care of itself.”
— Grant Watson
“The top advice ‘how to increase productivity’ from me is simple: use correct planning and time management. That’s all you need to work productively on any goal you have. Correct planning means you can plan everything for any period of time and control your way with checkpoints, which you figured out during planning. Make your first step – note all you want to achieve in 10, 5, 3 years. Than for a year and divide step-by-step for every month, week and day. And never forget to plan your entertainment!”
— Liudmyla Kovalova, KLC Group
“Simplify your life and cut back on being busy. This will allow you to focus on what really matters. If your days and weeks are jam-packed full of continual activity, you’re probably being pulled in too many directions. Simplifying means you reduce or eliminate activities that are often distractions, obligations or inefficiencies. Continually look for ways to simplify your days and simplify the way you do things. Free up your time and energy so that you can dedicate it to your long-term goals and to things that are really important for you.”
— Nigel Cook, Holding Your Feet to the Fire
“There is no silver bullet for productivity improvement. Your advances are going to come from a variety of sources. My simple advice is to give yourself permission to say “no”. You’re going to be asked to do things that distract you and detract from your goals. Don’t do them. Politely say “no”, and get back to work. You may have to give up some short-term gains, but in the long term your ability to say “no” will enable you to focus on things that matter.”
— Marshall Hughes, Managerpedia
“Set a maximum of 3-6 priorities for your day, to make your day more productive and less stressful.
This allows you to:
1 — Determine your most important tasks (MIT’s) that need to get done that day
2 — Set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish in a day
3 — Stay focused throughout the day
4 — Stay motivated throughout the day
5 — Enjoy a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day
6 — Rest and recharge
By focusing on your priorities throughout the day, you can rest at the end of each day in the satisfaction that you’ve accomplished your most important tasks for the day.”
— Chris Remus, Just Rolling With It
“To be productive in 2016 focus on the important and not the urgent. As the new year rolls in, we start thinking of all the things we want to accomplish. So staying on task and avoiding distractions may just be the hardest part of accomplishing your goals. But if you really want to be productive, you’ve got to make it a point to do fewer things. Again doing the important and not the urgent can be the single most important step to becoming productive. Keep your end goal in mind and everyday do something to move yourself forward to a more productive year.”
— Susan Hildebrand
This article is part of my series on How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution With Coach.me.
If you enjoyed this advice on how to be more productive in 2016 — stay tuned for more on how to:
When you sign up, you’ll also get a free copy of my ebook ‘Free Ebook: The Science of Willpower – Proven Strategies to Beat Procrastination & Get Big Things Done‘ so you can get to work on your New Years Resolution with resilience and resolve this year.
I’ll see you on the other side!
Thanks to all the awesome productivity coaches for sharing their expertise in this article! 🙂
The image at the top of this article was created by Joel Lindmark.