No matter how strong your intentions are, there will always be days, weeks or even months when you will lose your productivity habit. It happens to us all from time to time. I’ve gone through it so many times myself when I have become a disorganised mess and yet, I’ve always found a way to get back into my productivity stride by following a few simple strategies.
Here are a few of those strategies you can use to get back into your productivity habits quickly when it happens to you.
1 Learn to recognise the trigger points.
As they say, “prevention is better than cure” If you find yourself regularly falling off the productivity wagon ask yourself why. There are multiple reasons why a person may frequently fall off the wagon. It could be having an overly complex collection system to not having your collection tools with you at all times. Problems can also occur when you do not have clearly defined projects and areas of focus or you continue to ‘trust’ your brain to remember things. Find the triggers or the bottlenecks to your system and discover ways to remove them now before your habits fail.
2 Keep your system as simple as possible.
One of the biggest causes of falling off the productivity wagon is over complexity. If you create a productivity system that is so complex, that when you find yourself inundated with work and imminent project deadlines, it’s easy to stop collecting and organising. The way to avoid this is to build as simple a system as possible. Focus on active projects, areas of focus and have a someday | maybe folder for all inactive or ‘would like to do’ projects. Creating a system involving complex project and task hierarchies may appear great at first but it will become a drag on your effectiveness eventually. Reduce the complexity.
3 Focus on the basics of COD
When you do find yourself in a productivity mess get back to the basic principles of COD — Collect, Organise, Do. These basic principles will always get you back on track. Collect everything that has your attention and is on your mind into one list. It does not matter whether it is a digital list or pen and paper list. All you need do is get everything into one list. Then organise the items you have collected into their right place — projects go into your project list, ideas into your notes app and appointments and deadlines onto your calendar.
Starting from this position will always get you back into a state of organisation and it returns clarity and control into your life.
4 take some time out to gather everything together.
Whenever I have fallen off the wagon, I set aside an afternoon or an evening to get things back under control. Usually, this would be a Friday or Sunday afternoon, but it really doesn’t matter when you do it. Once you recognise you have stopped being productive and you feel everything around you is a mess, that’s the time to take a step back and take some time off to get things back under control. Do a quick review of where your system is and what’s overdue and needs urgent attention, then go through the process of COD. I’ve always found this one step lifts a huge weight off my shoulders and fills me with optimism and energy to get things back on track.
5 Have a backup collection system on standby.
There are going to be times when there is so much going on at work and in your personal life that it becomes difficult to keep up with everything going on. These situations are rare, but they do happen. If you find you are unable to maintain your system, stop worrying. A great trick is to switch to a piece of paper on your desk to capture everything, or a simple note open on your computer where you can just drop ideas, commitments and tasks when they come up. You can then “organise” these collected items later. There have been many times when I have been working at a client’s office and have not had easy access to my regular collection tools when I have resorted to using a single page in my notebook (I carry a notebook in my work bag everywhere I go). Once I get back to my own desk, I transfer the relevant items into Todoist or Evernote later.
Don’t be too hard on yourself — nobody’s perfect. Situations change and things will break. The important thing is you have a system in place that makes it easy to jump back on the productivity track quickly and without too much effort when you do fall off. It happens to us all at times but the key is to have a way to quickly get back on the productivity wagon when you do fall off.
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