And a more fulfilling life.
(Reading Time: 8 Minutes)
Faster! Faster! Your fingers, typing across the keyboard, struggle to keep the pace of your mind. “You’re running out of time! Move faster!” Your tunnel vision is growing ever-narrower.
You’re barely aware of your colleagues on either side of you – they are like white noise as you sprint about your day, pushing for that productivity increase.
Your phone lights up. It’s a reminder – ‘eat lunch’.
You’ve been forgetting about meals lately. There’s just too much to do. Life has become progressively busy both in and out of work. What with the new puppy at home and the new responsibilities of the office, you move from one fire to another. From potty training to team meetings and back again.
Food is the least of your concerns.
The Question You Ask Yourself
While laying in bed, right before your mind shuts off, a thought crosses your mind: ‘Did I actually do anything today?’
The thought didn’t register the first time it flashed past you, or the second, or the third.
But now, it’s been going on for weeks and it stands out, loud and clear. A final nagging criticism of all you got done.
Did I actually do anything today?
When you awake, traces of that thought still linger. Walk the dog, drive to work, type, type, type, click, click, click, talk, talk, talk, drive home, go to sleep… do it all again.
Did I actually do anything today?
Reaching Boiling Point
Back at work, your mind is telling you to “work faster!” with each passing minute, and eventually, you reach your boiling point. Thwack! Your hand, a tight fist of rage, comes down upon the desk. Silence breaks out across the office. The white noise comes to an immediate halt.
You can’t remember when you last came up for air. When you last thought of anything but doing. But now, having finally looked up, you’re aware of just how far off course you’ve gone.
It’s time to make a change.
Goal Setting To Achieve A Productivity Increase
In your own life, it is easy to get lost in work. To aspire for ‘faster and faster’ without ever questioning why. Without ever looking up to see if the direction you’re heading in is actually where you want to go.
Like a ship aimlessly sailing the ocean.
There’s a chance you may land on a beautiful island, but who do you think is more likely to get there: the person navigating just by chance, or the captain with a compass, map, and a direction to head?
That’s right – the latter.
The question in your mind should not be ‘how do I go faster and faster?’ but ‘where do I want to go? where am I heading?’
Goal setting is the answer. In fact, it will give you even more than a productivity increase – it will help you move swifter while also creating a life of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment.
Here are three ways that goal setting can lead you to a productivity increase and a more fulfilling life.
1. Save Time By Knowing What You Want
The very act of goal setting is a way of saying, “this is who I am and what I want.” It is a way of realizing your underlying desires and of putting steps in place to attain them. In doing so, you save yourself a tremendous amount of time.
Because unlike the aforementioned ship lost at sea, you give yourself a direction. No time is wasted going from port to port, searching for ambiguous treasure. Instead, you go right to where you want to go, wasting no effort or resources in the process, and helping you attain a productivity increase in your personal or professional life.
You become more efficient by simply knowing what you do – or don’t – want.
Understand What You Want
You can better understand what you want right now. Simply, consider the various aspects that make up who you are as a person. For example, my list is as follows:
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Philanthropy, and so on.
Pull up a note on your phone. Write down the various aspects of you. Now, consider what fulfillment looks like to you in each of these areas. Note: I’m not talking about happiness. I’m talking about fulfillment. Happiness is a bite of chocolate – a moment that passes. Fulfillment runs deeper than that – it’s recognizing that life has ups and downs, yet through it all, there is meaning. There is purpose.
Write It Down
Take some time to write down what fulfillment looks like to you in each of your life categories. For instance, here is what a few of mine look like right now:
- Fatherhood: A loving and wonderful relationship with my daughter.
- Marriage: A loving, supportive, and fun relationship with my wife.
- Knowledge: To be constantly growing and learning from books, courses, and audiobooks.
Once you know what fulfillment looks like to you, you can set goals in that direction. You can stop worrying about all the noise that pulls at you throughout the day and start focusing on what matters. Plus, this will also help you achieve a productivity increase at the same time.
2. Plan Your Goals To Be More Efficient To Achieve A Productivity Increase
With your goals set, you don’t want to forget about them lest you quit altogether. Instead, write them down. Use a goal tracker (you can see an example of one here) to keep track of the ten or more goals I’m currently working on.
That’s just one part of the equation though. The other part is planning for when you will work on them. It’s the difference between randomly remembering to go for a run versus knowing that you will run at 3 PM and then doing so when the time arrives.
Planning out when you will work on your goals is important and can increase productivity at home, work, or anywhere you want, so long as you plan for it. Planning helps you achieve a productivity increase as your days go from being random and clouded, to clear and directed.
Find out more about goal setting here.
Ironically, the hardest part of planning is making the time for it. As in, planning for when to plan. If you can do that, the rest is easy. Personally, I do a detailed planning session on Sundays.
During that time, I look at my calendar and other relevant notes to create a thorough plan for my week. I note which meetings I have, what goals I’ll work on (and when), as well as any other activities of importance.
I keep it relatively brief, putting only the major events or tasks on my schedule for each day. For instance, a Wednesday for me could look like:
- Meeting with Holly at 9-10 AM
- Go to the beach at 2 PM
Then, I’ll plan out tomorrow in more detail.
So if today is Sunday, I would plan out my Monday in great detail while leaving the rest of my schedule fairly brief. Then, when Monday is over, I’ll plan out my Tuesday, and so on. A daily schedule for myself could look like this:
- Wake up 6:00
- Get dressed 6:10-6:50
- Eat breakfast 6:50-7:20
- Write blog post 7:20-9:20
Planning out your days in detail ensures that you actively work on your goals and keep the rest of your day as efficient as possible. A productivity increase if I ever did see one.
See How to Work Smarter Not Harder here.
3. Set Goals For Increased Accountability And To Achieve A Productivity Increase
Knowing what to do in any situation is invaluable. Setting goals can help you to hold yourself accountable, and accountability can lead to a productivity increase. You won’t waste time on social media if you know it may stop you from accomplishing one of that day’s goals.
By holding yourself accountable, you become that much more aware of what you should and should not spend your time on. This is particularly useful when considering how to increase productivity in the workplace.
It’s simple. Use your goals to hold yourself accountable. Of all the methods discussed in this article, this is the easiest, and it is equally as useful for attaining a productivity increase. Here’s what to do.
Format A Check-In
When setting goals for yourself, create a section for check-ins. For instance, one format that I recommend is:
- Title of the goal
- The reason why you want to achieve it.
The check-in section will vary depending on the goal. However, its purpose is always the same: for you to keep track of your progress. For instance, let’s say your goal is to read two books a month. Based on the above format then, it may look something like this:
- Title: Read two books a month
- Why: Because I love to learn and this will help me do just that.
- Notes: This goal includes hard copies as well as audiobooks.
- Check-in: Books read in January:
- Example 1
- Example 2
Use It For Accountability
In this case, I’m pretending it’s January. After you complete each book in January, you’d write it into that area. At the end of the month, continue with February. With each book you finish, the section grows that much longer, and with it, the pride of your accomplishments.
Plus, you’ll experience a chain of consistency where you won’t want to stop the momentum.
On top of that, you’d hold yourself accountable all the while. Accountable to yourself. Again, this reinforces what you should or should not be working on at a given time – thus, leading to a productivity increase.
Move Forward With Your Productivity Increase
Let’s return to the story at the beginning of this article. We left it just after the outburst that left your colleagues both confused and a little worried. You vowed to make a change. Since then, you did. You set goals for yourself.
In doing so, it’s now become crystal clear what fulfillment looks like to you. You learned what you should and shouldn’t work on at any given time. You became more efficient by planning out your days. Additionally, you’ve grown more confident in your abilities as you’ve started to rack up a series of achievements.
You no longer go to bed wondering what you did that day. You are no longer worried that you may have wasted your time. Your mind still shouts “faster!”, but now that you know where you’re sailing, you actually find it exciting. You have a direction, you know what you need to spend your time on, and you are (finally) making progress towards it.
Closing your eyes, you drift off to sleep with a smile on your face, excited to wake up and do it all again tomorrow.