Staying productive is difficult even in the best of times, but when you're looking for a job or trying to chase your passions while working a job you hate, it can be even harder. The truth is that it doesn't matter if you are a freelancer, a sales rep or the CEO of a large company, the secrets to making the most of your time and being more productive are exactly the same.
For me, I find that I spend a good deal of time spinning my wheels and not really getting things accomplished. I took a hard look at what other people are doing to keep from getting stuck in a rut and how they improve their productivity in order to get some insight and find out how I can streamline my creative process. What I found out was surprising and what's more - it actually helped.
If you've been struggling with the same problem, here are the 5 secrets to productivity:
Just do it - This one is easier said than done, but it's probably the most important secret of all. It's useful to spend some time planning and preparing for your next project, but too much hesitation can keep you from ever getting anything accomplished. Don't get stuck in the daydream and planning stage so long that you become overwhelmed. Once you have a plan, just get started. Sure, you'll probably have to revisit your plan as you go and tweak things as needed, but getting started will give you something to work with and help you fine tune your idea much more quickly than spending months at the drawing board.
Don't be afraid to make mistakes - Trying things that don't work is a valuable part of the process. Through trial and error, you will find out what works best. Don't get married to an idea or have your mind set on something being a certain way. Learn from your mistakes and be willing to adapt and change as the project grows.
Do some work every day - Stopping and starting makes you forget where you were and can cause you to lose momentum. No matter what your goal or project is, work on it a little bit each day. Think of it like exercise or learning to play an instrument. If you practice or exercise every day, it gets easier and easier. Once you take a couple of days off, it becomes that much harder to get started again.
Start a routine - This works in with the idea of working a little every day. Carve out some time to dedicate to your project and try your best to stick to the routine. Having a set time to work will help you avoid the temptation to procrastinate. In addition, having a daily routine helps your body become used to doing things at certain times and it will even begin to shift gears into a more creative mode when it's time to work.
Break the big things down into smaller pieces - Sometimes a project can be so large that it's overwhelming. It's hard to see where to start or feel that you're making any sort of difference at all. When this happens, it's super easy for procrastination and frustration to creep in. Before you know it, your project is on the shelf, either deemed "too hard" or marked as something to do "when you get around to it". To prevent this, break down your project into smaller, easy to accomplish stages. These smaller chunks give you clear benchmarks and as an added bonus, they provide the perfect time to assess where you're at and what needs to be done next.
What do you do to stay productive? Please share your thoughts or advice in the comments.