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Five Ways to Maximize Your Productivity

Do you find yourself constantly trying to catch up with all the stuff you have to do in your life? Do other people seem better at handling multiple assignments and deadlines? Are you struggling with work-life balance?

Most people want to be more productive, but sadly, productivity has gotten a bit of a negative connotation as employers have used the word to push workers to the brink -- and, in some cases, fire workers who did not meet productivity standards.

This article is all about helping with your personal productivity -- for you, not for your employer or anyone else. When you are more productive, more efficient with your time and energy, you not only feel better with yourself, but you'll find you have more time -- to relax, enjoy friends, or accomplish more stuff (if that's what you want to do). Use these how-to productivity tips to enhance your life.

Five Tips for How to Increase Personal Productivity

1. Set Goals... and Stick to Them. Too many people have dreams and hopes they hope to one day accomplish, but never do -- because they fail to set them as goals. So, step one is writing down your top goals for your life -- both personal and professional. These are the big goals -- such as where do you see yourself in 10, 20 years.

Once you have these big goals on paper, your next step is mapping out the smaller goals you'll need to accomplish to reach the big ones. Think of the smaller goals as dominos in a line -- all of which must fall over in order to reach the big one. Do your research and be realistic. Map out each smaller goal, and set deadlines for all of them. Suddenly that 10-year goal seems much closer to reality, but keep all these goals in the forefront and base future decisions on how your choices may impact those goals.

2. Have a Daily To-Do List. My partner, Jenny, keeps her to-do list on her phone in a calendar app that reminds her about each item at the right time on the right day... but you could also just keep a daily to-do list old-school style on scratch paper, as I do.

As with your goal list, keep your eye on your to-do list, and if there are activities that will hurt your ability to complete the items on your list, take a long look at whether they need to be accomplished or are simply distracting you from your work. Of course, you can also push items from today's to-do list to tomorrow, but only if something comes up today that is more important or pressing than what remains on your list. Finally, don't let your to-do list hold you captive from accomplishing other work, but do remember why each item is on your list, and move forward accordingly.

3. Eliminate All Distractions. How many times per day do you check your email? Text someone? Check your social media accounts? Shoot the breeze with a co-worker or neighbor? Don't think you spend much time doing these activities? Take the next few days and keep a log -- and be completely honest about it -- every time you take a break from your work. Add up the minutes and you may be amazed -- and more sympathetic to the bosses that scream about the need for workers to be more productive.

Efficiency experts have all sorts of systems for eliminating distractions, but to me, the key is setting specific times for distractions -- and duration limits for them. For example, only checking email first thing in the morning and at the end of the day. Reading and/or posting to Facebook and Instagram only once or twice a day -- and for a certain time limit. (Use the timer on your device to force the time limit.)

4. Learn to Say No. Most of have probably been the person that people come to -- not necessarily because we do such an amazing job (though we may), but because we never say no. If a co-worker wants help or attempts to pawn off an assignment on you, or your child's school needs a volunteer, or a friend asks you to participate in a fun-run for a charity... regardless of the situation (unless it's your boss), look at your to-do list and your goal list and if the request takes too much time and/or does not help you achieve your goals, decline. And if it is your boss asking, explain your current work tasks and ask how the new requests fits your current priorities.

For non-boss requests, simply learn the right way to say no -- and not feel guilty about it. "I wish I could help, but I don't have the time right now... or I am busy/booked that day." Or, "I am flattered you asked, but I simply do not have the time." Or, "I simply do not have the time to help you as you requested, but perhaps there is another way I can offer assistance." Find more tips for saying no politely.

5. Accept That Multi-Tasking Does Not Exist. One of the greatest fallacies in our culture is that people can multi-task and that if we are not achieving our deadlines, that we must be weak at multi-tasking. But guess what? Multi-tasking is a myth. When we are supposedly doing two or more tasks at once, what we are really doing is going back and forth between the tasks (task-switching), making our efforts more ineffective and inefficient. Don't believe it? Read more about the multi-tasking myth.

Focus on single-tasking, using interruptions or other down time to switch to other tasks. With the help of your goals and to-do lists, you should have a clear set of tasks that need to be accomplished, ideally with specific priorities. And yes, if you are stuck on hold waiting for an answer, you might be able to multi-task by checking your email or social media... but you also might question of the value of waiting on hold if you have more pressing work to accomplish.

Final Thoughts on Increasing Your Productivity

These five personal productivity tips should go a long way to helping you maximize your time and tasks better, including a clearer understanding what you want to accomplish -- and when -- and assisting you in becoming more productive... for yourself.

Want more? Check out our Five Additional Productivity Tips... coming soon.

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.


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