Review & IDEAction

Well we’ve done it folks! We’ve now gone through all 10 (+1 bonus) of my Productivity Tactics for rockin’ out your resolutions or goals this year.

To recap, these were:

Tactic #1: Simplify – The fewer goals you have, the more likelier you are to achieve them. Narrow your list down to 10 or less, and keep them simple & actionable.

Tactic #2: Prioritize – Multi-tasking is a myth! Assign an order of importance to your goals and keep this in mind as you attack them accordingly.

Tactic #3: Think Big, Act Small – Break up each goal into smaller bite-size steps, and then tackle them one at a time according to their priority, giving yourself no more than 2 CRITICAL to do’s each day.

Tactic #4: Set Deadlines – Give yourself a time frame to accomplish all the steps in each goal. Be realistic and remember Parkinson’s Law: any task will take as much time as you allot it to get it done.

Tactic #5: Don’t Justify – Often the things we least want to do are the things most needed to get done. Ask yourself, “Am I inventing things to do just to avoid the important?” Remember: the sooner you do it, the sooner you don’t have to do it!

Tactic #6: Outsource – Can any of the steps toward your goals be automated or done by someone else? Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and remember: the key to having more time is doing less.

Tactic #7: Imitate -Why reinvent the wheel? Learn from what your colleagues have done, use that as a helpful jumping off point, and then make it your own.

Tactic #8: Define Your Space – Identify those places where you feel most productive and then make that your regular workspace. Organize all your necessary materials there, and keep out any other irrelevant clutter.

Tactic #9: Teach It – One of the best ways to learn something yourself is to try teaching it to others. Find a friend or colleague who wants to learn what you are doing and share with them along the way.

Tactic #10: Stay Positive – Stay focused on the Chaos you can influence. Don’t waste time on things you have no control over, or things that may go wrong. Learn from the past and quickly move on to improve the future.

Bonus Tactic #11: Make It Your Own! – Stop defining your goals based on what others tell you is important. Define your own definition of what success means to you, then go for it and never give up!

Hopefully through this process, I’ve demonstrated exactly how you can go about implementing these Tactics and using them to achieve your goals. You just need one final key to tie them all together – a solid plan for how to use them the most effectively. So I’ve incorporated each of my 11 Productivity Tactics into a simpler 5-step process. I call it my IDEAction Plan:

Step #1: I is for Identify

  • Define your list of goals, and the spaces & materials you will use to achieve them. (Refer to Tactics #1 & #8)

Step #2: D is for Devise

  • Deconstruct your goals into actionable steps, with priorities and deadlines. (Refer to Tactics #2, #3 & #4)

Step #3: E is for Energize

  • Get moving! Put your devised plan into action, and don’t let procrastination or mistakes slow you down. (Refer to Tactics #5 & #10)

Step #4: A is for Analyze

  • Evaluate your progress & your process, and find opportunities to outsource or learn from others in your field. (Refer to Tactics #6 & #7)

Step #5: S is for Systematize

  • Develop your personalized routine & optimize your workflow to give yourself maximum freedom to do the things you want to do, or share what you’ve learned with others! (Refer to Tactics #9 & #11)

I hope these prove useful to you in your own personal and professional journey.

Happy trails!


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Questions? Comments? Absurd Ideas? As always, please share your comments below and tell us how these tips have been useful for you!

Productivity Tactic #10: Stay Positive

As February nears its end and we prepare to enter the final month of this year’s Q1, it’s a good time to remind ourselves what we’re doing all this for. You’ve got your list of goals and you’ve been chugging along every day, step by step, towards each of them. So first, I want to congratulate you on your continuing effort and resolution!

But I also understand that it can be a tough act to keep up, especially when there are disappointments and obstacles that can threaten to slow you down. You might have even taken a turn earlier in your journey that you now realize wasn’t the best strategy. Or you could be frustrated with that one thing that’s preventing you from checking off the next task on your list.

Things are bound to get in your way. And you will definitely be faced with the temptation to give up. So it’s important, especially when things get rough, to remember why you are on this road in the first place.

I recommend you keep something visually inspirational nearby, maybe on your work desk or by your bed, for a jolt of encouragement first thing in the morning. Make it something that reminds you of the ultimate goal you are trying to achieve and, more importantly, the ultimate reason you want to achieve it. What drives you? What inspires you? What is your reason for this journey?

I keep my inspiration on a chain around my neck. It’s a golden charm shaped like a leaf, and it tells me that life and beauty come in seasons. It helps me remember that everything is fragile and finite, and the only real thing is what I can hold on to right now – that things up today can be down tomorrow, but also that the process is full circle and those same things will be up again another day. It reminds me that I am just a small part of this greater world, and that to do my part is to produce (and help others like you produce) more of that life and beauty that captures our world and makes it worth living through the ups and downs.

You can also keep inspiration in front of you throughout the work day, so you have something to reference back to when you start to lose momentum. I keep my daily inspiration in the form of a “My Priorities” Google doc that I keep open in my browser all day long. On it, I’ve listed out each of my high-level projects and goals for the year, along with what steps I’m going to take and what milestones I’m going to complete to get there. Seeing it all laid out on one document, in one place, really helps me stay focused when the daily grind gets to me. It helps remind me of what I’m doing all this for anyhow.

But it’s not just about what I’m trying to accomplish. My goals this year are also about what I need to let go of. It’s just as important to learn not to dwell on your mistakes or when things go wrong. And this is as true for the process as it is as the goal itself. You can learn from your mistakes without dwelling on them, and then move on to improve the future. Stay Positive through the down moments, and use that momentum to push you even higher in your ups.

Stay Positive.

But also stay focused on the Chaos that you can influence. Life is too short to waste a moment, especially on things you have no control over. So don’t worry about that immovable obstacle that you can’t move past. Let go of that route, and pick up a new one. Get honest with yourself, and then get creative.

Because as much as we have resolutions and goals, it isn’t just about the end result — it’s also about the journey. We aren’t meant to spend the whole process worrying about what difference we’ll make in our lives, or how we’ll be judged in the end. Remember that you ARE making a difference right now with every single step you take towards your goals. And what’s more, you can’t even be certain if the goals you set now will still be relevant or important to you in the future.

So stop stressing about the things in your way that you can’t move, stop worrying about the goal itself, and start enjoying the journey! It sounds cliche, and some people may call me a hippie for saying so, but I just want you to understand how staying positive can actually have a positive impact on the things you want to achieve. And enjoying the journey can also mean learning to see the opportunities that come along the way, in spite of — and sometimes even because of — each obstacle.

That’s actually the secret to balancing the chaos in your creative endeavors, and appreciating what great things can come from it. Because the secret to being a Productive Artist is not about suppressing and ignoring the chaos — it’s about giving it the structure and freedom it needs to create, and understanding the value it can add.

And in the end, what will make the biggest difference for you and what you want to achieve won’t be how hard you can work or how efficiently you can do something, but rather how much you believe in what you’re doing and how well you can share your passion with others. So Stay Positive, stay motivated, stay inspired, and I promise that will fortify everything you put out into the world.

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Questions? Comments? Absurd Ideas? Comment below and tell us about one thing that’s been slowing you down and how you can remind yourself to Stay Positive and move past it!