Increased productivity is a byproduct of increased planning. First, of course, you must know where you want to go. That’s why defining your precise destination is so critical.
Let’s return to our trip analogy as it relates to a plan for increased productivity.
If you were heading to a conference and had 2 days to drive 1500 miles, you’d need to plan carefully and deliberately. If the conference literature indicated it was going to be held at the “California Hilton”, that wouldn’t be super helpful, would it? What if it said “Los Angeles Hilton?” That would be a tad better, but still not great.
To create your most efficient and expedient route, you would need to have the exact address.
The same is true for a plan that gives you the best shot at increased productivity regarding your goals in the new year.
Ask yourself the questions below for the upcoming year. Be sure to write the answers down and keep them somewhere to reference at the new year’s end.
What is the primary goal you want to accomplish this year?
Your primary goal can be personal or professional but put some thought into it. One of the keys to increased productivity in any area of your life, is being able to narrow your primary down to the most important thing you MUST do to consider the year a success.
Don’t factor in guilt or obligation or what you think you should say or what others think you should do. Do this without judgement of yourself. If your primary goal is professional, this doesn’t make a bad partner or parent. Likewise, if it’s personal, it doesn’t mean you don’t take your career seriously.
Obviously, this one thing isn’t all you want to accomplish and you’re not making a statement about your life priorities. You’re simply creating a goalpost by which to measure your achievement in this area at this specific time in your existence. This is your primary destination on the “trip” that will come to reflect increased productivity in your life at the end of this new year.
What other goals are important?
A good rule of thumb to create a comprehensive list of additional goals, is to start by making six quadrants:
- Personal (self)
- Personal (family)
- Personal (other relationships)
- Professional (self)
- Professional (company/business)
- Community (altruism/giving back)
These six quadrants combine to create a balanced life. Thus, some degree of focus on all these areas is important for the balanced living of a balanced individual.
Then, you want to craft at least 2-3 goals – or things you want to accomplish – in each area. Try to be as specific as possible. Additionally, it is best to craft outcomes that are measurable. Thus, you will be able to gauge your exact level of achievement and success.
Why are these goals important to you?
You are much more likely to achieve all your goals if you know your “why.” Why are they important to you? What will it mean if you accomplish them? What will it mean if you don’t?
Really drill down into your “why.” Resist the temptation to be superficial. Do you truly want “more money?” Or do you want the additional freedom that more money brings? If it is the latter that you’re really craving – more freedom – then your route and its likely twists, turns, and rest stops, will be totally different than if it’s genuinely money. And it may be money if your goal is to save up for a big purchase like a house, car, boat, etc. The point is to just be certain that you know what your genuine goal is – what your destination is specifically – or you could find yourself taking a lot of wrong turns and detours that could cost you time, health, happiness, or relationships in the long run.
Likewise, try to get a strong picture of the feelings around your “why.” Action backed by emotion is like fanning a fire. Similarly, it is what will drive you forward in the beginning and when you feel like you want to give up. That’s why carefully crafting and defining your “why” is vital.
All the above combine to define your destination clearly, so that there is no question or confusion about where it is you are going. Once you have this I mind (and hopefully, in hand if you wrote it down as you should), you are ready to move on to design the route you will take to your destination so you can get there as quickly and painlessly as possible.