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Since I started doing work as a freelance writer, I often search for ways to become more productive. I’m always looking for new tips and tricks to help me get more work done in less time, especially since I started working on my first book. Because I also work a full-time day job at a pain management clinic, I need all the help I can get.
I figured today I would share with everyone today some things I’ve learned about becoming more productive, and how it's helped me both at night while I’m writing and during the day while at my clinic. I hope you find these helpful and that they help you get more out of your day.
While we’re here, we’ll also be looking at this month’s book recommendations (well, ‘books’ would be more accurate this time around). I have a brilliant series to share with fans of authors like Brandon Sanderson. I’ve also come across some health articles that deserve a call-to-action.
Why Is Productivity Important?
As someone who works both in healthcare full time and runs a freelance business on the side, I can attest to the importance of productivity. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to let work take over your entire life. And, before you know it, you’re taking no time for yourself. That’s why it’s so important to be productive with your time.
When you’re productive, you’re able to get more work done in less time. This leaves you with more free time to do the things you love (like playing card games with the wife). For me, being productive also means being efficient. I like to use my time wisely and get the most out of every day, which is why I am always searching for more ways to work smarter, not harder.
Three Pillars of Productivity
Time Management. Organization. Prioritization
These are the three core pillars of productivity. If you want to be more productive, you need to focus on these three areas to maximize the amount you get done within twenty-four hours.
Time management, as the name suggests, is all about using your time wisely. It’s about knowing how to prioritize your time and knowing when to say “no” to things that will waste your time. Freelancers will run into scenarios often where potential clients are not a good fit for them or their business, especially writers and artists.
It is also easy to run into trap freelance websites that pay poor rates, require an immense amount of setup, and continuously take more and more of your hard earned money in a myriad of fees (looking at you Fiverr and Upwork). It’s essential to spot dead ends in your work so that you’re not wasting precious time growing.
Organization is key to being productive. If you’re not organized, it’s easy to lose track of important tasks and deadlines. That’s why it’s important to have a system in place to help you keep track of everything.
Personally, I use my calendar and task manager apps religiously in order to make sure I am meeting my weekly tasks and personal goals. Learning to organize my work has been crucial for me. Between my day job and Penman Ventures, organizing my tasks allows me to not only ensure I am accomplishing the work that I set out to do, but also helps me achieve a good flow between work, business, and relaxation.
Prioritization is also important. You need to know what tasks are most important and need to be done first. This will help you avoid procrastination and ensure that you’re always working on the most important tasks.
These are the three core pillars of productivity. If you want to be more productive, you need to focus on these three areas. Learning to manage and command each hour of the day will save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Tips For Becoming More Productive
These are just a few of the many things you can do to become more productive. But, these are some things that have worked for me.
- Set Daily Schedules: Setting a daily schedule is helpful. I like to know what my day is going to look like and what I need to do. This helps me to be more focused and to use my time wisely, both when helping patients and helping a client.
- Wake Up Early: Waking up early also helps to be more productive. While I already wake up plenty early to start the workday, I also try to wake up early on the weekends. Starting the day early allows me to get more things done over the course of the morning.
- Follow The “2-Minute Rule”: Following the “2-minute rule” has also been helpful. If something can be done in two minutes or fewer, then do it now. This has helped me to avoid procrastination and to get things done quickly, so that I have more time for longer projects later.
- Eliminate Distractions: Seriously, this is important. When you’re trying to be productive, eliminate anything that will distract you from your work. This includes things like your phone, social media, and TV. When I get in the zone, I’ll listen to Lo Fi and tune out everything else while I write.
- Take Breaks: Burning out too quickly will make completing goals take longer. That’s why it’s important to take breaks and to walk away from your work every once in a while. This allows you to refresh your mind and do more with your time. While writing, I like to write for 25 minutes before taking a 5 minute break. I recommend following a similar formula to increase productivity.
- Get Enough Sleep: When you’re well-rested, it’s easier to focus and process thought. Lack of sleep and fatigue lead to the worst of crashes when you’re trying to accomplish your work. Stop staying up late; go to bed at a decent time. Keep your energy up.
- Exercise: While sleep helps you re-energize each day, exercise can help you raise the bar (no pun intended) on your energy levels. Not only will you just feel better overall, but you’ll improve your mental focus, vigor, and health in the long run.
- Meal Prep: When you meal prep, you’re able to save time and energy during the week. And you’re less likely to make unhealthy choices when you have healthy meals already prepared.
- Set Goals: Finally, setting goals is important. When you set goals, you have something to work towards. And, when you reach your goals, you’ll be motivated to keep going. Meeting set calendar goals and comparing your progress week to week also allows you to assess your other productivity strategies for the next necessity.
Track Your Progress
As you work on becoming more productive, it’s important to track your progress. This will help you see what’s working and what’s not working as far as productivity strategies. And it will help you stay on track with your work and established goals.
There are a dozen ways you can track your work and goals, some more specific than others. Journals, activity trackers, spreadsheets, the number of ways you can track your work is endless and as easy to access as your phone’s iOS or Android store. Consistently tracking your progress will allow you to reflect on the work you have done and the methods you have used to achieve your established goals.
I hope these tips are helpful to you as they were to me. With how busy we can be, it is easy to lose track of time, especially after working your day job. If you have any other recommendations, share in the comments below!
World Health Organization: Cost of Physical Inactivity
What The Penman is Reading
Some Context From a Public Health Perspective
Throughout the 21st century, the risk of chronic disease has risen over time. In public health, we associate this rise of chronic disease with the improvement of our healthcare systems. As people are living longer lives, the overall population risk of chronic disease increases while our average birth rates decrease. This has been the gradual shift most 1st world nations have been experiencing since the Baby Boom from 1946 to 1964.
Meanwhile, another shift has occurred overtime. There has been a decreased emphasis on physical activity and exercise. There are many factors that play into the decrease in physical activity: technology, the internet, automation, etcetera. Our workforce has outsourced more strenuous labors in favor of professions and vocations which involve sitting at our desks more often than us being outside.
Our children and school systems have been affected by this shift in overall physical activity as well, as school curriculums have gradually phased out the requirement of more physical activity such as gym and workshop, in favor of the fund-friendly courses of math, science, and general studies.
This decreased emphasis on physical activity unfortunately has a negative impact on our quality of health and our risk of chronic disease. Decreased physical activity increases risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, and even orthopedic diseases, including osteopenia. While I recognized this to be a significant issue in the United States, the WHO’s first ever global report and its focus on physical activity had me stunned. Less than fifty percent of all countries have any sort of policy in place to promote exercise and physical activity.
The economic burden of chronic disease brought on by physical inactivity in the United States alone is substantial, given the estimates on the reports. For the rest of the world, it is easy enough to see the burden of chronic disease rise to the trillions if physical activity and exercise are not promoted on a policy front soon.
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