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Maximize Your Productivity: 4 Ways to Identify What Works for You

An image of post-t notes with words like Planning, Teamwork, Productivity, Customer, Relationship. Productivity is highlighted

I’m a bit of a productivity junkie. I’ve read multiple books and articles and listened to countless YouTube videos on the subject. I’ve tested task systems and apps and planners. I even write about productivity (as well as other topics) on this blog. It's not surprising that the definition of productivity looks different to different people. One thing that I think is common and incredibly important: doing what matters to each person.

How we do anything is how we do everything -Martha Beck

How can we figure out how we do our best work? How can we make progress? Think about how you currently manage your time and tasks, what works well for you, and what areas you could improve on. There is no one correct answer to these questions. There is no single correct way to be productive! These questions will help you reflect on your current style.

How can your maximize your productivity?

Ask yourself these questions:

Question 1: When do I do my best work?

Am I a morning person or a night person? Or do I work best somewhere in between? Am I at a season in life where mornings are better for me or do I have more time over the lunch hour or later at night? Do I have ongoing commitments? Are my activities spontaneous? When am I least likiely to get interrupted?

I’m at a season in life where early mornings work better for me. I work on this website and other associated business tasks. In my regular 9 - 5, I feel most focused at the start of the day and the last 90 minutes of the day. I try to reserve those times for things that require the most focus and clarity. There have been other seasons in my life when I liked the quiet that I could find later in the evening.

Question 2: What kind of accountability do I need?

Am I good at motivating myself? When does my motivation lag? Do I work better with deadlines? Do I need some kind of accountability or a mentor?

I once had a learning and development job. There were necessary trainings that I provided. I also liked creating training that I thought could be very helpful to people - things that would introduce new ideas for how people could work better. I worked best (or to completion) when I had some accountability: I would add the training to a calendar that got shared with everyone or would set up a meeting with a co-presenter. That worked well for me. It is still how I work best.

Question 3: What environment works best for me?

Does clutter make you cringe? Do you need a desk or do you work best in a coffee shop? Do you like classical music or the sounds of the ocean? Do you prefer quiet? Do you need sunlight or do fluorescent office lights give you a headache?

I’ve found that I prefer a fairly tidy desk and sunlight. However, in the winter months, sunlight can be somewhat elusive. I have a task light until daylight really hits and I keep my curtains open. There are times when I like ambient noises, times when I listen to classical music, and times when I like fast-paced music. It depends on what I am doing.

Question 4: What routines and habits are best for me?

Does my morning routine involve grabbing my phone and scrolling social media or checking email? Do I hit the snooze button on my alarm? What about before bed? Do I unwind by reading a physical book or do I check out the news on my tablet? Do I have a morning routine? Do I have an evening routine? Am I prioritizing sleep?

I have worked on establishing both a morning and an evening routine. I’ve discovered that my number one productivity tool is adequate sleep. It’s not apps or calendars or task managers. It’s sleep. My habits and routines are now geared toward adequate sleep.

How we do anything is how we do everything -Martha Beck

What about you? How would you answer these questions about how to maximize your productivity? I'd love to know what you discover when you answer these questions! Do you need accountability? Let's chat!


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