How to be more productive.

Despite the availability of technology for process-automation of our daily lives, our lives are objectively more stressful than they have ever been. This impedes our ability to be efficient, achieve desired goals, and stay happy.

Sometimes we have “so much” to get done but are confused about how to get started about our tasks.

This stresses the importance of order and synchrony in our daily lives. We all have that goal we want to achieve: that thesis to write, weight to lose, code to write, etc

Perhaps you want to improve your time management? Or maybe you want to defeat the feeling that you never do what matters due to the clutter that surrounds your life.

Doing all of the above simultaneously, requires an incredible amount of prioritizing, mental organization and patience.

So the following are 3 ways through which I stay organized and reach my goals with (near) efficiency:

SET GOALS: Before you reach a goal, you must set one, right? Goal-setting is the first step to effective productivity.

I set goals by understanding what I want to achieve and assessing my ability to commit to my goal. I set specific, attainable, relevant and time-bound goals. I consider what the ideal future is and this keeps me motivated to turn my vision for setting my goal, to reality. I fairly understand my micro goals for a short-term period (e.g. the month of May), and I plan and structure every hour to attaining these goals. Setting goals is very important and it replaces aspects of your life that are left to chance with a fair sense of certainty — the outcome of which is influenced directly by your ability to work towards the goals. Think about these: when was the last time you set a goal? Do you have clear parameters to assess how well you’re doing at reaching those goals? Also how do you set goals: randomly or in a clearly structured manner? Also, your life becomes more meaningful when you spend each day working towards that goal. You are happier and more fulfilled: things many people are not right now.

PLAN: I understand what I can realistically achieve with my time and I make enough time for essential tasks.

I started by organizing the various aspects of the new task from most important to least, and then began by working on the most important aspects of the project, starting with the most difficult tasks, and working on simpler tasks later and delegating these simpler tasks whenever I can. I avoid taking on more than I can handle and I add contingency time for the “unexpected”. When I plan, it means that I know what I have to do in the coming week, and effectively plan to mitigate any challenges. For you planning could be making to-do lists, using e-reminders, Google Calendar, MS Outlook, a white board, sticky notes, etc. Whatever the case, make sure to plan!

EXECUTE ON PLANS: The most seemingly difficult part of the process of attaining your goals right?

The reason why executing on plans seems difficult is because our planning process that fails to consider the possibility of failure, then try to mitigate it. When you plan for your goals in a structured manner, you are likelier to achieve them. We don’t get round to reaching goals because we procrastinate or get distracted. Thus, to achieve your goals you have to hone your focus by keeping things simple and keeping your goals actionable. Assuming you know that you are poor at maintaining balance, starve those activities that take away from your focus: that party, turn-up session with the squad, mindless conversations, and idle phone-scrolling. Conversely, you need to feed those activities that help you better achieve your goal. Spend time to build your skill-set and competence. Be brutally honest, how competent are you to achieve that dream of yours? Learn how to use a new app, listen to a new podcast as opposed to listening to that song (that you have listened to 1000000000 times). Doing all of these ignite your passion and sharpens your mindset: and that is the turning-point: MINDSET!!!

Furthermore, you should remain structured. Follow the structure you set out earlier, stick to the script, of course while remaining innovative, and being flexible to adapt to new changes and (negative) circumstances.

Create relationships along the way, and grow yourself. I am confident that you’ll be glad you did.

AUTHOR: The author heads a youth-led non-profit organization in Nigeria and currently works at Accenture: a global Management Consultancy.