Five Ways to Boost Personal Productivity

As the summer slowly draws to its conclusion, we are met with familiar moments that are always queued up for the second half of the calendar year: falling temperatures, peers and children going back to school, and in the meantime a sort of malaise may fall over us. Throughout each year we have signposts with which to benchmark personal progress, starting every time with new year’s resolutions that too often fall through, as well as the trope of spring cleaning encouraging us to go out with the old, in with the new. Personal productivity, it feels, always has a way of falling by the way side. 

Meanwhile, mid-August isn’t exactly the time for personal renewal. But as universities go back into session and end-of-year events and conferences gear up, we find ourselves more burdened than ever with new work projects, evening courses and more. Hence despite the lack of urgency for a change in gears, this part of the year demands a new sense of diligence from us all. Outside of work you could be trying to get a certification or diploma, to build your portfolio or even write a novel, but as demands of work bare down on you, it gets hard to spare energy on your own passions. So for your sake, as well as my own, I put together a list here of a few ways to improve productivity on projects outside of work.

  • Set benchmarks, both big and small.

The easiest way to stay on track with your goals is to begin by dumbing down what your goals even are. This means setting up benchmarks or deadlines for your progress — starting with what you need to do every week in order to fulfill your long term goal. Next, map out what you need to do each day that week to meet those goals. As soon as you lay out concrete steps for personal growth, getting to the top of the staircase becomes feasible.

  • Stay consistent.

Once you’ve made a plan, you just have to follow through with it. This of course is much, much easier said than done, however once you begin consistently taking on these daily benchmarks, it is merely a matter of time before you’ve accomplished your goal. The second you begin to fall behind on your daily, and then weekly benchmarks on a personal project, the more discouraged you feel, so minimize the risk of slipping down this slope by missing these benchmarks as infrequently as possible. Depending on your goal, it may help to set smaller goals for each week so as to avoid biting off more than you can chew. 

  • Keep on top of the small stuff.

To say the least, the assorted banalities of life can make self-improvement more difficult than expected. From daily cooking to home maintenance, driving the kids to soccer practice and so forth, your commitments outside of work can seemingly annihilate what free time you thought you had before the day began. So, when you set these benchmarks for yourself, think of how you can best create blocks of time for getting things done; for example, meal prep so that you don’t spend an hour every evening preparing food and cleaning. Know what days are your busiest, and set proportionate goals for them — and save the heavy lifting for days when you know you’ll have time for it.

  • No burning yourself out.

It may be tempting to assume, after losing focus on any number of personal goals over the course of a year, that these side projects are never successful. But one of the most direct threats to your success on achieving a goal is gaining the conviction that you cannot do it. In fact, it is a delicate balance of discipline you must apply to keeping at a task, and patience with oneself when outside pressures prevent you from staying on target. So don’t panic when you fall behind on reaching a personal deadline for something, and be sure to plan around the physical limits of your schedule and your spirit. If you keep up, great; if you begin to lag behind, figure out what changes you need to make to your regimen before you let yourself give up on the task completely.

  • Work harder, smarter — and your personal productivity will soar. 

That is, while elbow grease is crucial to the success any good project, knowing where to apply the elbow grease gets you even further. So when setting out on a personal project, ensure your ducks are all in a row at work as much as they are outside of it. Consult mentors or other folks who have done what you’re trying to do, and have a compelling plan of attack. Want more help streamlining your work life to make room for personal productivity? Join our WorkReady Club which gives you access to a network of business professionals, discounts on countless brands and even more.

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