What you work on, how efficient you are and what gets done tomorrow all depend on how aware you are of each of these aspects. It's important to take a step back and assess each of these factors that contribute to your productivity -- or lack thereof.
1. What are your routines and are they working?
Homeostasis is a scientific term that describes a “systems-normal” situation -- a set-point or state of stable equilibrium. Your homeostasis is the things you do and the order in which you do them every day that has now become your normal way of working.
What tools and gear do you always have with you? What applications are always running on your computer? What time of the day do you send the most email? Where do you go when it’s time to do big-deal thinking about your product, your service, your customers and your goals for next year?
You know you’ve “normalized” your workflow if, when you do something a different way, or chose not to do it altogether, it feels as if something was missing or wrong.
Obviously, your productivity is impacted if you can’t get on the Internet, if your favorite coffee shop is closed, if your battery is dead and you can’t work in your normal way.
Action: Over the next week, be much more aware of the habits and routines you’ve put in to place. As you work, ask yourself if there may be a better way of getting something done. The fastest way I know of doing this is to watch someone else work, which can help you see your own process anew.
2. Where do you work?
The place where you work changes what you do, how effectively you do it and how well it gets done. The things around you and the atmosphere you’re in affect how you use your time. Want to be more productive? Improve the context in which you work.
Consider the following questions: Do you often spend time looking for things you need to do your job? Do you like or feel comfortable using the tools and devices you use? Do the devices available work the way they are supposed to? Are people using other tools that you should try in order to work more efficiently? Are you inspired by your surroundings when you try to get something done?
The purpose of asking yourself these questions is to help you think about how context influences you in a positive or negative way. When you want to get something important done, change your context.
Action: Over the next week, identify the context you do most of your work in. Experiment by doing different kinds of work -- thinking, planning, responding, creating, etc --) in contexts you believe will support the work you need to do.
3. Who do you spend the most time with?
The people you spend the most time with influence your productivity. Take risks, try to meet new people and build your social network. I'm not talking about your social media network here. I mean the actual, one-to-one, mind-to-mind, heart-to-heart conversations you have with those people you call friends. The people around us influence our mindset and behavior. If you spend time with people who want you to achieve more and are extremely supportive of your goals and your potential, this will reflect on your own life and achievements.
Action: Make a list of the five people you have spent the most time with over the past week. Next, rank in order from one to five (one = most, five = least) in terms of how supportive each person has been toward your productivity. If possible, spend a little less time with the people at the bottom of your list.
Take 15 minutes right now to schedule these actions. Experiment with one or two of the actions for five days and see how they influence you in a different -- hopefully, positive -- way.