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10 Steps to Becoming Highly Productive in 10 Days

What will you do to become more productive in the next 10 days? Nothing you say? Perfect. It’s time for a mini-challenge! I challenge you to employ my 10 steps to becoming highly productive in 10 days!

Here are the rules:

Rule #1
Have a notebook/planner/loose-leaf paper and writing utensil(s) on hand

Rule #2
Once you implement a step, continue doing it throughout the challenge. For example, on Day 2 you’ll execute Day 1 and Day 2’s actions. On Day 3 you’ll do Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3’s tasks…etc.

Rule #3
Don’t rush through this! Actually take 10 days to get through the 10 steps. If you don’t feel like you’ve completely wrapped your mind around a task, take another day to implement this. You can’t rush progress!

Think you’re ready? I know you are.

Get started with these 10 steps to becoming highly productive in 10 days:

Day 1 – Get your beauty sleep

While waking up an hour earlier may help boost productivity because you technically have more time to accomplish tasks, you have to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Sleep scientist Daniel Gartenberg recommends getting eight and a half hours of sleep for maximum productivity. 

If you’re the type of person who can function off of less than 7-8 hours of sleep, then, by all means, do you boo. But if you’re more like me, your day is doomed from the start if you haven’t slept long enough, and no one likes a grumpy mommy.

Action: Try going to sleep by 10 pm and wake up at 6:30 am, then take note of how you feel throughout Day 2.

Day 2 – Define success

What does success mean to you? How do you measure success? At what point in life would you feel comfortable with saying you’re successful?

How can you measure productivity without having something to measure up to? Defining success will not only give you something to work toward, but it’ll also help define how you get where you’re going.

Action: Think back to a time when you feel like you were successful. What was that moment? How did it make you feel? How did you reach that state? Record your answers in a notebook or journal.

Day 3 – Know your limits

Realizing your limits allows you to create boundaries, and boundaries are a key component to productivity. Learn how to say no. Don’t take on more than you can handle and be realistic about that limit. Sometimes we think we can do it all, then to our dismay we realize we can’t. Whether you’re Joe Shmo from down the block, or you’re a majorly successful businessperson like Tim Cook, you have to know and respect your limits otherwise you’ll burn out, and quick.

Action: In order to create boundaries, you must identify your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual limits. What makes you uncomfortable? What are you willing to tolerate? Write those answers down.

Be direct with yourself and those around you. Jot down a few direct phrases you might say to address boundary issues at home, at work, and with friends. Do you think you could deliver those messages with assertion? If not, go back to the drawing board.

Set one boundary that you think would be easiest, then progressively move on to more difficult encounters.

Day 4 – Prioritize

What’s more urgent: working on your website design or engaging with potential clients on social media?

Let’s say you choose social media. Are you going to direct potential clients to your unfinished website? That wouldn’t be very professional. 

So we’ll choose web design this time.

This is like Bandersnatch on Netflix. If you didn’t see it, don’t. It was terrible. 

Website design – you’ll have a beautifully-created website that’s sure to impress potential clients but you know it’s one of your slowest tasks. Putting hours into the design of your website might take time away from social networking then you’ll feel guilty because you’re behind. 

Can you tell that I’m projecting? In all seriousness, prioritizing is hard but you have to do it if you want to make any progress. 

Action: Make a list of the things you want to work on tomorrow. Now rank each task from most important to least important. If you get stuck, weigh the positives and negatives of each task. Whichever one has more potential for a positive outcome wins. 

Day 5 – Set SMART goals

You’ve already defined success, you know your limits, and you’re well-rested. Now you’re ready to set some goals, but they have to be SMART. 
SMART goals are:
Specific 
Measurable
Attainable
Relevant
Time-based

Setting SMART goals increases the likelihood of achieving said goals. 

Action: Get your notebook back out and write down one SMART goal. 
Make sure your goal: is detailed and meaningful (specific); is able to be quantified or tracked (measurable); is realistic and you have the means to achieve it (attainable); aligns with your overall mission (relevant); and has a deadline (time-based). 

Day 6 – Time blocking

I reference time blocking a lot throughout my blog posts. Why? Because it’s proven to have helped me manage my time and become more productive.

Time blocking is the practice of accounting for every moment of your day ahead of time. Sound tedious, I know, but it’s actually really helpful.

For those of you familiar with the teachings of Dave Ramsey, time blocking reminds me of the zero-based budget. Much like time blocking, the zero-based budget helps you to account for every single dollar you earn. That’s not to say you won’t have an “allowance” or personal time, you just account for it, or schedule that time. This aids in making sure you’re taking full advantage of the hours you’re awake.

Action: Download my FREE Time Blocking Workbook below and start blocking for tomorrow.

Day 7 – Use a planner or notebook

This step is pretty straightforward. Writing things down aids with retention, which is why we wrote vocabulary words so many times in grade school.
Using a planner or notebook falls along the same lines. When you write down your appointments and tasks on paper, you’re more likely to remember them.
I have to admit, I’m not really a fan of using apps for keeping my notes and schedule all together. There’s just something about taking pen to paper or marker to dry erase board that makes me feel way more productive.
Action: Find a planner or journal that you believe will work for you. A good planner is like a good therapist – might take you a while to find one you click with, but once you do you’re smooth-sailing.
Pro tip: If you’re on a strict budget get your planner from Dollar Tree. I use their student planner because it features a weekly format and it costs ONE DOLLAR.

Day 8 – Batch tasks

Whew, child. I am thankful for whomever thought to complete like tasks in batches. For example, right now I’m on #4 of 6 posts that’ll be published within the next few weeks. I use time blocking in conjunction task batching and they’ve added an immense amount of control over my productivity.

Action: Put your to-do list together if you don’t already have one. Group similar tasks together and split your day into time blocks. Finally, assign each group of tasks a window of time.

Day 9 – Do a thought dump

People naturally think a lot every day. You do it, I do it, it’s totally normal. However, sometimes we have too many thoughts at the end of the day and we try to remember everything we need and want to do.

How well if that working out for you? I know it doesn’t work for me. 

That’s where thought dumping comes in.

Thought dumping is a great way to transfer all your thoughts and ideas out of your mind and into a safe place for keeping. Not only will you gain clarity, you’ll sleep better knowing you’re not going to forget something by the time you wake up. 

Action: Keep a dedicated notebook on your nightstand at all times. Before you go to sleep, or when you’re trying to fall asleep, write down every task that comes to mind. 

Day 10 – Reward yourself

This might actually be my favorite piece of advice and it’s so simple. 
When you’ve completed a task or a batch of tasks, reward yourself! Rewards can range anywhere from the satisfaction of crossing a task off your to-do list to treating yourself to dinner after a long week. Whatever would feel rewarding to you is what you should do. 
When we reward ourselves it gives us a little more motivation to continue being productive. You reward your kid or your puppy when they go potty instead of doing their business on the floor, why not reward yourself for getting shit done? Just remember – everything in moderation. 
Action: Think of a little reward and a big reward that you know you’ll enjoy, then define the parameters of receiving each reward. Employ the little reward for smaller tasks. Treat yourself to the bigger reward once you’ve completed a project. 

Now that you’ve gained these 10 steps to becoming highly productive in 10 days…

…set forth and do great things! Follow up with me after your 10-day mini-challenge and let me know what worked for you, what didn’t, and how you’re feeling overall about becoming more productive.

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