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Best Practices: How to increase your productivity

Successful people tend to lead highly productive lives. They don't waste time on television, gossip or other activities unrelated to their chief goals. They know what they want to achieve and they manage their time and organize their schedules to make it happen. To boost your own productivity, try these 12 suggestions:
June 1, 2008

Successful people tend to lead highly productive lives. They don’t waste time on television, gossip or other activities unrelated to their chief goals. They know what they want to achieve and they manage their time and organize their schedules to make it happen. To boost your own productivity, try these 12 suggestions:

Focus on what matters most to you in your professional and personal life. Your goal is to achieve congruence between how you spend your day and what matters most to you.

Be ambitious. Don’t let time, money and fear stop you. What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Create your own unique Personal Mission Statement (PMS). Your PMS describes what kind of person you want to be and what you want to achieve in life. It will give you a sense of purpose and meaning. In creating your PMS, you are beginning to write the story of your life. Who do you want to become? What do you stand for? What matters deeply to you?

Put your goals in writing. Without written goals, your life is essentially drifting without focus. Goals turn your dreams into reality.

Ask yourself the following question over and over again: what is the best use of my time right now? Discipline yourself to work only on the answer to that question.

Rid your life of time-wasters like poorly run meetings, interruptions and gossip. But also pursue more radical gains in productivity by ceasing to pursue jobs, contracts, careers or relationships that you think are stupid and trivial.

Take care of yourself first. Self-renewal (physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual) is the vital process of enhancing your capacity to make you a more effective and fulfilled person.

Take your commitments very seriously, however small. When you promise to do something, do it – and do it when you said you would.

Listen attentively and actively to other people. Once the other person’s need to be understood is satisfied, you are more likely to be listened to and understood yourself.

Distinguish urgent tasks from important tasks. Often, urgent tasks are not important and important tasks are not urgent. This is why important tasks, such as building a relationship with your spouse, can get neglected. Schedule more time for important tasks.

Take new action relentlessly. Overcoming fear and taking action can change your mood from one of resignation to one of ambition. Highly productive people seize opportunities quickly and make requests, promises and offers frequently. They move quickly and develop a reputation for speed and reliability.

Be comfortable saying no and declining requests from others. What can you not do so as to free up time to do more of the things that are really important to you?

Professor Palmer can be reached at

palmer@american.edu

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