Productivity

Maybe not as much power or control as Beyoncé, but you get the point.

Last week’s Southampton Circle met up to discuss Productivity – especially as it relates to the goals we set for ourselves rather than for other people. I had so much fun developing that session because it turned out to be really useful for me personally. There have been a few things that I actually started putting into practice.

I’d love to learn from your productivity habits or the things you’d like to try yourself – please share in the comments!

Meanwhile, here are the top 3 things I’m trying:

Effective To-Do Lists – Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit covers 8 habits of highly productive people.* One of the things that struck me was that I could make better to-do lists. Since I had this revelation over a month ago, I’ve scheduled time for planning on a Monday morning. At that time, I do (almost) what Duhigg suggests: I write down each of my big aspirations as headings. Under each of these, I write my ‘stretch goal’ for the week: the key thing that’s going to get me closer to success if I get it done. At the same time, I block out good chunks of time in my diary to focus on each of those things. It isn’t perfect – and I’m probably not single-minded enough for others’ tastes – but I do feel as though I’m getting a lot more of the important stuff done.

You can hear a lot more about Duhigg’s research on the Freakonomics Radio podcast, How to Be More Productive.

Thinking Differently – there are a number of things that our beautiful, brilliant brains do that undermine our efforts at productivity. Gregory Ciotti summarised some of the research on a really interesting blog post here. However, it was another of Freakonomics’ “Self Improvement Month” episodes that made me reflect a little more deeply on some of my on thought patterns. That led me to Angela Duckworth’s Grit, which describes some of the thoughts and behaviours of ‘gritty’ people: you know, the ones who seem to have laser focus on a goal and who never run out of energy.

Listening to her, I realised there are several gritty attributes that I especially need to work on: the main one is courage. I’ve been working on this by doing things that scare me in pursuit of a goal. In particular, the goal of growing this community: I’ve been doing things like reaching out to strangers and scheduling meetings without knowing who – if anyone – is going to turn up. And since I’ve been doing these things, I have met some incredible people all over the world; I’ve learned from them and grown as a person – and I’ve become far more productive as a result.

Here’s the Freakonomics episode How to Get More Grit in Your Life

Getting Happy – As a result of the meeting on Thursday, which I participated in as well as presented, I’ve decided I have a February goal of toning it down a little and making time for doing nothing. This is also inspired by research and a book, called Happiness by Design, by Paul Dolan. His key argument is that happiness derives from a balance between purposeful (growing a community like this one) and pleasurable (watching TV and drinking wine with partner) activities. The thing is, with a full time job and a 1 year old, I have about two hours per day – after she’s gone to bed – in which I can either accomplish some personal goal OR hang out with my husband and have fun. Too often lately, I’ve chosen the former – and I think that might start to wear me out. Worn out people aren’t productive.

So this month, I’m going to work on improving that balance.

*Re: Duhigg’s 8 habits of productive people: I’ll have to go back and compare these 8 habits to Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to see what’s so different…

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