Do you want to be more productive? Do you want to achieve your goals?
I would assume that since you are reading this blog post on Asian Efficiency, the answer to both questions is a big YES. However, you might not be productive right now or you struggle with accomplishing your goals. There might be a lot of reasons why.
One of them is that you might have lost momentum or productive habits. In the past, you could easily start and finish a project but nowadays you have trouble even getting started. You used to wake up early and now you hit the snooze button more often than you’d like to. That is not a great feeling, right?
I remember feeling this exact same way just a few weeks ago. I needed to write 3 different newsletters and I thought, “I cannot do this. This is impossible. I cannot think of 3 different topics to write about in a span of 2 weeks. I’ve never done this before.”
Well, guess what? Not only did I write those 3 newsletters but I got a lot of positive feedback from it.
Even though your todo list might still be a mile long and never-ending, what I want to show you (like we have done for over 13,000 of our clients) are 5 things you can do today to get back on track and regain your productive habits. You are going to learn strategies on how to move forward and get yourself unstuck from the feeling of unproductiveness and helplessness.
1. Schedule your habits
When you schedule your habits on your calendar, you don’t have to think about how you’re going to work on your daily habits. You look at your calendar and it’s there. All that is left to do is to do it.
So my recommendation for you is to add your habits to your calendar and commit to doing it.
For example, you used to read every day and somehow you stopped doing it and would like to get back on track.
For example, you used to read every day and now you stopped doing it. However, you would like to pick up your daily reading habit again. One thing you can do is to schedule your daily reading habit on your calendar and that’s how you will make time for it. You can add a ‘reading block’ on your calendar for 30 minutes each day, between [8:00]AM to [8:30]AM. That’s what I do.
Perhaps you want to continue writing so that you’d reach your goal of becoming a published author. Schedule a ‘writing block’ on your calendar for 60 minutes each day.
When I was training for the half marathon, I added my running habit on my calendar and marked it as busy. It meant I had no reason not to do it because my schedule for those two hours was solely for training (warm-up + running + cooldown + freshen up).
2. Make it as easy as possible
One of the best ways to get back on track is to make your habit, goal, or task easy to accomplish.
Desmund Tutu said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” This is true with your goals in life as well. You need to do it one small step at a time. If you notice yourself struggling to be consistent, try to adjust. For example, instead of aiming for 1,500 words written per day, you adjust it by cutting in half, do that consistently, and then gradually increase it over time.
You can also make it easy by removing friction. When I was training for the half-marathon, my friction was getting ready in my running clothes. I was always hesitant to get dressed before my run and that’s what held me back from running. I wish I was kidding! So to remove this friction, I decided to wear my running clothes after my shower in the morning. This way, all I had to do was to wear my running shoes and I was ready to go out the door.
How can you remove friction in your life? Do that and it will make it a lot easier to accomplish what you want.
3. Focus on one task at a time
You look at your todo list and you see 20 things that you need to finish that day and everything is a priority. Is it really?
This thinking will lead you to feel overwhelmed and you might end up finishing 1 out of the 20 and the rest are all half baked. When you cannot prioritize and focus on one task at a time, you end up getting almost nothing done.
Let’s be honest here. Just because it’s on your todo list, it doesn’t mean everything is a priority. It might mean you need to organize better. As awesome as our brain is, it can only ever focus on one task at a time and that’s all you need to be Asian Efficient.
4. Surround yourself with people to help you
Studies have shown that when you surround yourself with people with similar interests or goals, you’re more likely to follow through. Be it a group, a friend, or a mentor. In our productivity community, The Dojo, we have an accountability corner that keeps track of everyone’s goal and everyone can see it and follow up on it.
If you don’t have a community, find one. There’s an agile community that I belong to and we have a Slack group to discuss our goals and where we are at. Facebook has a lot of groups that you can check out–but if you can find something outside of Facebook, much better.
Thanh uses a personal trainer to help him keep going. This is something I can relate to because I am terrible at working out alone. I am not the most extroverted person but I just can’t stand being alone working out. This is one reason why at the start of the pandemic, it was very hard for me to adjust to working out at home. It became easier (and more fun) once I started to work out with Lloyd and even Bela. My friends and I would also do a weekly challenge and we had to take a video of our workout to send to our group. Now that the gyms are open, I’m now back to working out with a trainer.
When you have someone to share your goals with, make sure that person will also help you be accountable. You can also be that person for them so you are each other’s accountability buddy.
5. Design your space to be productive
Look around you. Is your space set up to allow you to be productive?
If it’s not, then you need to change it. When I was still in school (many moons ago), I couldn’t study if my room was cluttered. My brain would often go to what I need to fix instead of the notes in front of me. I created a new habit to make sure my room was organized a week or two before any exams or major projects. If I waited until the last minute, I wouldn’t have enough time to study because I’d spent it all organizing.
This remains true today. Sure, I can still work if my home office is messy but the quality of my work is going to be as sloppy as my space.
However, a great working environment is not just about clutter. It is really about how you can shape your environment to help you be more productive. One way it can help you is setting it up without digital distractions such as removing the TV, tablets, and gaming consoles from your space.
One thing you can add to your space is a second monitor (I cannot stress how important a second monitor is) or a plant. There are lots of things you can do to improve your space and that’s something Brooks and I talked about on our podcast, The Productivity Show. Check it out here.
There you have it. 5 actionable steps you can do today to regain your habit and get unstuck.
What I recommend you do next is to pick one habit you want to regain and schedule it on your calendar.