9 best productivity tips that will prevent you from failing in 2017

By radek

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9 best productivity tips that will prevent You from failing in 2017

Hey, New Year's resolutions - we're not done yet!

Productivity is one of the biggest deal-makers when it comes to achieving goals, any goals, and also one of the hardest things to master. Not because it requires years of intense training, genius, supernatural talent and favorable circumstances. In fact — quite the opposite: each of us, locked in the empty room, furnished only with a chair and a table, given a few sheets of paper and a pen, will probably end up having the most productive time ever. It’s distractions that make our productivity suffer.

Have your cake and eat it

Let’s be honest, many goals, no matter how hard they seem to be to achieve at first, turn out to be pretty straightforward once we give them complete, undivided attention. While it is entirely our choice to reject browsing Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, which can be exceptionally time consuming activity, we all know that it is just not that easy. Just like stop eating sweets and getting fit — theory on how to get this done is really simple, while practice — unbelievably hard, if your self control is not made of hardened steel.

Although I personally found a great trick on how to “have my cake and eat it” when it comes to sugar craving, as I got fitter, I felt I could let myself go more often than before. And ended up putting on weight again. Problem was, I had a container full of sweets in my flat. Solution — I moved the entire container down to the basement. No matter how desperate for chocolate I am, there is no way I’m going all the way downstairs to get my Snickers bar.

That is one example that worked for me for that particular issue I was facing. The moral is though — most of us will need to trick ourselves to get things done and achieve the goals we’ve set.

Beautiful Lifestyle

Early 2017 I decided to nail it down this time, and to my surprise, first 3 weeks of January happened not to be as productive as I expected. I wouldn’t call them a total waste of time, but I can’t fight the feeling I could have done far more than that.

So I started to look for the tricks, ideas, advice, inspirations and tools that would help me stay more organised. Ended up on YouTube.

Here’s where I might surprise you a bit. That were not Tony Robbins’, Brian Tracy’s or David Allen’s motivational videos that inspired me to write this blogpost. That weren’t even the marketing / business gurus tutorials , as you would have expected.

That were lifestyle / beauty / fashion video bloggers.

Surprising at first, now that I got to “know” them a bit more through watching their videos, it all started to make perfect sense. Being a guy, I’m not dramatically concerned about the makeup techniques or skin moisturizers. I can’t tell the difference between “pink” and “taffy” pink shade, as presented by Ingrid Sundberg in her great blog post on Colour Thesaurus. But one thing is sure — those cheerful ladies are, in fact, successful entrepreneurs who found a way to make living out of what they love doing.

Pink Shades

Could be only my screen, but I can't see the difference between "pink" and "taffy".
If you do though, check out "Ingrid's Totally Awesome Color Thesaurus Group"

And in order to achieve that, they had, and continuously have to, come up with ideas for their next videos and blog posts, which requires them to stay focused, organised and very down to earth when it comes to the business part of what they do.

At this point there’s a room for the natural skepticism to arise. “Yes, we do appreciate their success and their willingness to share their tips with their audience, but wouldn’t it make far more sense to get productivity advice from productivity gurus or world renowned entrepreneurs?”

Not necessarily. Not for each of us and not in every case. Here’s why.

As much as I THINK I would love to get personal advice from “big” entrepreneur like Richard Branson or Elon Musk, I‘m not fully convinced their advice would suit someone who is nowhere near his level of wealth, business complexity and guidance needs. In fact, I’d rather get the advice from someone that struggles with similar scale problems that I am facing at present. Someone I can relate to, and won’t be intimidated by.

And a quick disclaimer: by no means, calling problems ‘smaller’ makes them less important. In fact, mastering the ‘small’ steps is often crucial part or learning the ability to handle large ones. It’s about building and perfecting the good habits — for they are really difficult to fix if we learned them the wrong way!

Big Power of Small Steps

I dived in and spent several hours watching tens of videos. Majority of them had great deal of useful advice on productivity, goal achieving methods and self organisation. Many of those tricks I already knew from my own experience (but the way they are presented in the videos are just so much more pleasant to watch than I would even be able to do, so keep on reading!), so it wouldn’t be honest to speak about them pretending it’s the very first time someone told me about it.

Instead, I narrowed it down to 9 videos from which I picked 1 advice that was a true eye-opener to me, the advice that I actually utilized and that really helped me to improve my productivity. Advice that helped me to finish this blog post too!

Since the girls were kind enough to mention the exact tools they used to stay organized, I though it would be useful to put them all on one list (including links to the online shops that sell it). You can download it for free by clicking the button below.

I generally recommend you watch all the videos from the beginning till the end. Some of the tricks girls talk about, appear in pretty much every video I linked. That would be in fact the first productivity hack you can trick yourself into — learning through repetition, building habits, programming your unconsciousness — you name it.

These are: making notes, using calendar (whether paper or digital), having to-do list, cleaning up the space in which you work. Sounds simple? Sounds obvious? Perhaps, but do they also sound like something you do on a daily or even hourly basis? I though so.

You see, the success is not about getting one “powerful-ninja-badass” trick or technique that will sort out all of your problems. You can track back the story of many people that won the lottery — because they were not prepared for this amount of money being delivered to them that quickly, most of them ended up in the worse financial “shape”, few years after the winnings.

Many really successful entrepreneurs started from the scratch, and by building up and working on the small things, be it the daily habits or small, organisational trick repeated daily until they became an unconscious routines, eventually they got to the point where their life became the one many of us would love to live.

But the bast part of it — they do not struggle trying to maintain it, because this success is the outcome of what they do and who they became — not the other way around. And that should be your ultimate goal.

So without further ado, here’s the list of bloggers and their tips I will be talking about:

  1. Lavendaire — blocking out the week
  2. Kalyn Nicholson — using file folders (and other stationery)
  3. Alexandrea Garza — start fresh each day
  4. Rachel Talbott — cleaning as a habit
  5. Estée Lalonde — putting things back in their place
  6. Allison Anderson — "The Timer" technique
  7. Rachelleea — crossing things out
  8. Haley Cairo — making goals mandatory
  9. Erin Henry — real "why?"
  10. Bonus: Muchelleb — 25 New Year’s resolution ideas

1. Lavendaire — blocking out the week

Aileen aka Lavendaire is a LA based “lifestyle blogger and artist of life”. But in fact she’s more that that — she is also a talented songwriter, singer, music producer, spokesperson, actress and, as you can guess — a fan of lavender.

Blocking out the week

That is the tip Aileen shared in her video on organizing her life. I wanted to start this blogpost with this advice, because that one really started to rock my world and had probably the biggest impact on my own productivity.

Blocking out the week

The idea is simple but deadly efficient — each day focus on one type of activity / task. Instead of trying to squeeze in everything from your to-do list into one day, she recommends focusing on one specific task or activity type on each given day. Not only that keeps your life far more organized, knowing that you don’t need to struggle trying to keep all the plates spinning like a circus artist, but also reduces the time waste required to change the focus if your tasks dramatically vary.

I was close. I though I figured that Holy Grail of productivity by myself. I blocked out my day, so one hour I did one thing, the next hour I switched to social media, only to do some online marketing later, and switching back to some front-end coding before lunchtime. And that didn’t work out very well for several reasons: some of the tasks required far more intellectual engagement to accomplish anything in 60 minutes (by the time I accelerated, I had to jump to another task), and some of the task were so extremely non-related, that switching the mind between them took a lot of time.

With Aileen’s approach I can focus on one thing only that day, contribute my entire, undivided attention to do as much as I can, and guess what — it is working incredibly well!

Lavendaire’s Website
Lavendaire’s YouTube Channel

2. Kalyn Nicholson — using file folders (and other stationery)

Kalyn modestly claims to be “average coffee drinking, dog obsessed 22 year old Canadian who talks to her dog, camera and about herself in the third person”. But she is in fact also very passionate blogger / YouTuber who can effortlessly talk about fashion, fitness, beauty, self-development, lifestyle for hours, not shying away from trying new, adventurous stuff.

Using the file folder

Sounds simple, perhaps even obvious? It did to me, until I realized I have 2 file folders on the shelf next to my desk. Both have different size, condition and colour, but one thing in common: both are empty and covered with dust.

Using the file folder

It takes only a little bit of conscious effort to figure out, that the unused office stationary left aside in our flats, have been designed to actually help us organize things, and in fact — they do. They really do, if only we give them a chance.

True, we can just dump everything into the drawer, remove it from our vision range to avoid temporary distraction or the feeling of guilt. But guess what — they will not magically disappear, they won’t get sorted all by themselves, and there will be a time you will need to actually face them.

Instead, getting a habit of organizing all your sketches, bills, notes, documents on the spot ,will really help you keep your working life far more organized, free of unnecessary time waste, stress and chaos.

So do make use out of the stationary you already have, you might be surprised how well they actually work. Of course, you don’t need to go crazy about it, trying to utilize everything you have, only to end up doing confetti for 2017/2018 New Year’s Eve out of your old sheets of paper, just because you realized you have a paper punch at home. But file folders, index markers, post-it notes, pens, folder shelves, are there for you. Give them a chance and experience the magic by yourself!

Kalyn Nicholson’s Website
Kalyn Nicholson’s YouTube Channel

3. Alexandrea Garza — start fresh each day

Alexandrea is a popular lifestyle, fashion and beauty vlogger. Before she became a full time YouTuber, she worked as a make up artist and hair stylist, which explains her impressive knowledge on the beauty-related topics. Very generous in sharing the knowledge with her audience.

Start every day off with the fresh start

If you ever opened the pack of snacks / a chocolate, to have “only one bite”, and ended up eating the entire thing, probably your excuse was something like “well, I already started, so I better finish it and be done with it”.

Start every day off with the fresh start

As far as this particular example probably didn’t work well for most of us fitness-wise, you can learn one lesson from it. The way you started something will probably be the way you will finish it. So it makes a perfect sense to start it well!

Alexandrea recommends to start each day off “fresh”, and that is indeed great idea. Assuming that your actions will follow the domino effect, if you start your day the way you enjoy, the way that makes you feel energized, productive and positive, just like with the pack of snacks — why not to finish it the same way!?

There is a “bug” in our brains that makes us believe that once we start doing something, liking something… basically, once we invested even a tiny amount of time into something, we should stick to it, even though sometimes we know it’s just a bad thing and a bad situation.There is a “bug” in our brains that makes us believe, that once we start doing something, liking something… basically, once we invested even a small amount of time into something, we should stick to it, even though sometimes we know it’s just a bad thing and a bad situation.

I generally recommend fixing our human bugs as soon as we realize we carry them with, but this one, if controlled, can serve us exceptionally well, and we might be better off having it wired in!

So invest the first 20 minutes of your day into conscious set of actions, that you know serve you well, and the odds are it will boost you with motivation to carry on this way thorough the rest of the day.

Alexandrea Garza’s YouTube Channel

4. Rachel Talbott — cleaning as a habit

Rachel is a vibrant person, very good at balancing her work as a content creator on Youtube, and her passion as a wife, a mother and a lover of life, (although her work happens to be her passion as well). She talks about fashion and lifestyle from the family point of view, but singles love her work as well.

Clean and organize something every day

As I previously mentioned, one of the things pretty much each featured vlogger talks about, is to keep your space clean and tidy. Rachel recommends to do some cleaning as a daily routine, and that advice complements really well the previous one from Alexandrea, on starting the day off fresh.

Clean and organize something every day

I too couldn’t agree more on that. Not only this sort of habit makes you feel like you have done something productive first thing in the morning, which will probably keep you going thorough the rest of the day, but it will also give you a fresh, tidy space to work in. This is a really great trick that kills 2 birds with one stone.

Doing that on a regular basis, will prevent your space from getting too dirty, and therefore cleaning it up won’t take your entire morning. It will require some discipline at first, because not everyone is used to clean the flat, first thing in the morning. After a while though, it will become a habit, neglecting which will probably make you feeling a little bit guilty.

Since I started doing it by myself, tidying up the bed as soon as I wake up, organizing my desk that remembers last night’s work riot, doing the dishes while letting the fresh air clean up the air in the working area, my productivity improved significantly. Instead of watching yet another political debate surrounded with empty coffee cup and banana peel, I use the time to create favorable working conditions for myself.

Rachel Talbott’s Website
Rachel Talbott’s YouTube Channel

5. Estée Lalonde — putting things back in their place

Estée Lalonde is another Canadian on the list, but this one decided to move to London, from where she, if not spreading her cheerfulness around, writes and makes YouTube videos on beauty and lifestyle. Recently partnered with Lancôme so she sure knows her trade!

Put things back in their place

Do you start to see the pattern already? It turns out cleanliness is a huge factor when it comes to success and good organization. And one of the easiest, most obvious things to do if you want to maintain tidy work space is to put things back where you took them from.

Put things back in their place

It’s so obvious, that I had to watch this video to realize I don’t do it at all — probably the main reason why my room was far from spotless. And it’s not that I do have items that do not really have their own space — after all there is always that one dodgy box or drawer we can dump everything in.

The problem is that each time we take something, we leave it handy, because we assume it will be needed again shortly. Or maybe tomorrow morning? No? Weekend maybe?

If you are just an average person like myself, who did not yet master the skill of self organization, I can bet there is at least one thing on your desk covered with dust. Yeah, that’s right, you though you’ll need it soon, correct? When was it? back in 2016?

Again, it is not a rocket science really, this is really simple and yet very effective trick that should become your habit, if you want to cut the time waste and boost your focus. Even though it might require standing up and walking to the kitchen, benefits are worth it. And as a side effect — you’ll get some workout too. How great is that?

Estée Lalonde’s Website
Estée Lalonde’s YouTube Channel

6. Allison Anderson — “The Timer” technique

Lifestyle, makeup, TV, travel, DIY, books and tech! As someone who majored in broadcasting in college, it is no big surprise Allison is very comfortable on both sides of the camera. That would also explain why most of her attention go towards her YouTube channel rather than her personal blog. Mind you, I’m not complaining!

“The Timer” technique

Albert Einstein once said that “Play is the highest form of research”. Not only research, I’d add — implementing “play” factor to any given task, can actually turn it into exciting challenge. And “The Timer” technique, used wisely, does exactly that!

“The Timer” technique

If you ever worked on a project, any project, it is probably well known fact to you, that having a deadline can boost our efficiency to the extreme heights. And if you never worked on a project, just think how fast you could run to catch the bus, that was due to depart.

This is why every major project in all sort of the industries, does have a deadline, even if it is not obligatory to accomplish it in that specific time frame. The reason — when we want to get things done on time, our behavior changes: we think sharper, we prioritize tasks more efficiently, and our actions are more decisive and energetic.

Timer technique is really simple: you set the timer for the task you want to accomplish. For example, you make a goal to tidy up your room in 20 minutes (time allocated for the task must be pretty tight but realistic, to make the technique work), you set the alarm clock and go! The challenge begins.

If you take the challenge and the relentless countdown timer seriously, not only you probably will accomplish it in the time span that will surprise you. This challenge is also very likely to give you the adrenaline rush, that will make you “go with the flow”, setting the timer-challenge for the other tasks you want to accomplish on that day. No downsides!

Allison Anderson’s Website
Allison Anderson’s YouTube Channel

7. Rachelleea — crossing things out

Rachelleea is an Australian based YouTuber, who is passionate about making the world around her, and herself, beautiful. So she vlogs about beauty, make up, fashion, but also DIY and home decor. Not afraid to spend money on fancy paper notebooks and going against auto-spell-check, following her native language grammar rules, using crazy words such as “colour” or “organise”.

Crossing out things

Just like Rachel, I am a big fan of physical to-do lists. Text written with a pen on a piece of paper has more authority than the stack of pixels on the laptop screen. But there’s one major advantage of having the to-do list in hard copy: you can take that big fat red pen and sadistically cross out the task you accomplished!

Crossing out things

Achieving goals is a satisfactory experience, although sometimes we struggle to get something done for so long, that when it finally happens, the joy already has blurred away. “How’s your new Porshe?”. “It’s okay”.

Writing down things to do and crossing them out is something I started doing by myself few years ago. Can’t remember what was the reason, maybe advice taken from one of goal-achieving gurus, maybe my own instinct, but I bought that small notebook that I turned into my to-do list, where I constantly write things down and cross them out once accomplished.

And just like Rachel said, crossing things out, preferably using significantly different pen colour, is exciting enough to actually motivate you to write more things down on your to-do list, and jump to the next task, just so you can cross another one out. And indeed it doesn’t need to be a huge task —accomplishing even the smallest, the most mundane things can accelerate your productivity and motivate you to move on to the bigger challenges.

And you know what? It works, it really works! Just my advice — make sure you write your to-do list in the good quality notebook (not on the meaningless, single sheet of paper), so you won’t neglect the tasks written in it or use it to doodle stick figures.

And then take that red pen and cross the things out like there is no tomorrow!

Rachelleea’s Website
Rachelleea’s YouTube Channel

8. Haley Cairo — making goals mandatory

Haley Cairo is a young, ambitious blogger, owner of maemovement.com and devoted Christian. She claims to be, generally speaking, lifestyle vlogger, but her videos are more than that. As someone who managed to lose 80lbs, she understands the power of empowerment, and is now helping others achieve their goals. We do have much in common, Haley!

Make your goal mandatory

Have you ever heard of modal verbs? Can, Could, May, Might, Should, Shall, Will… Definition says they are used to express ideas such as likelihood, ability, permission, and obligation. And if you make your goal anything but the obligation, it is very unlikely to happen.

Make your goal mandatory

So when it comes to setting up a goal, there’s one modal verb you should be focusing on: must. Because the things we do not feel obliged to do, we often end up, indeed, not doing.

Haley does not blame us on having bad intentions or being simply humanly lazy. The fact is, our daily life is often filled with distractions, obstructions and all kind of situations that take the focus away from our goals. Why this happens? Because we never made these goals our priorities.

But once we make the goal obligatory, everything around changes. We no longer get distracted so easily, our minds unconsciously start to look for the links, hints and clues in our environment, that could be helpful in our quest. Are you familiar with Law of Attraction? Good, because that is Law of Attraction at its finest!

As with everything, do it with moderation. Making each goal on your list obligatory, would undoubtedly drive you crazy. Therefore you should prioritize your goals, on top of the list putting the most important ones, while pushing the remaining ones to the bottom. Those are the ones that should be accomplished if time and circumstances allow.

But the most important ones from the top of your list, there is only one modal verb you can combine them with: “must”.

Haley Cairo’s Website
Haley Cairo’s YouTube Channel

9. Erin Henry — real “why?”

Erin is another Australian on the list with strong entrepreneurial vibe (she owns a social media agency). Interested in spirituality, happiness, business, fitness and amazingly good looking food (although meat eaters won’t be entirely fulfilled). Very goal oriented, but in a healthy, positive, encouraging way.

Knowing your real “why?”

I recently wrote the blogpost on that topic in which I though I elaborated on that most popular question fairly thoroughly. It was right until I saw Erin’s video.

Knowing your real “why?”

Despite the fact that, by nature, we are rather superficial creatures, we do not want to be perceived as such. Therefore, from time to time,we waste a decent amount of energy trying to come up with sophisticated reasons why we do things that we do. We want to convince everyone around that there is a deep, supernatural, profound, altruistic reason behind our actions. We want to convince ourselves too.

But Erin’s point is actually very valid. If your deeper level why is very superficial, very shallow even — that’s ok too!

Give yourself the permission to have a reason that you might not be super proud of. You don’t need to share it with everyone, but be honest with yourself. If you do something to attract opposite sex, out of jealousy, as an act of revenge, to feel temporary, physical pleasure etc… as long as it means something to You, and, as a result, you grow, you achieve the goal and become better, more fulfilled human , while not doing the damage to anyone else(!!!)— it is perfectly fine.

Because only knowing your real, true “why”, will get you what you honestly want to have, and make you who you honestly want to be.

Erin Henry’s Website
Erin Henry’s YouTube Channel

And for the dessert:

10. Muchelleb — 25 New Year’s resolution ideas

Michelle is by far the most secretive YouTuber from the list. Australia based, interested in lifestyle, DIY, goal achieving and overall healthy living, describes herself as “gen-y slug trying to live an intentional, fab life”. Not quite sure about several terms from that description, but “intentional life” sounds really intriguing.

25 New Year’s Resolution Ideas

Since it’s the end of March, many of us probably already gave up on the goals we set up sometime around late December / early January. Classic example — the gyms’ crowds are now back to normal. Despite some of us forgot to cancel gym-membership standing orders, because quick money injection from the barely used fitness equipment we sold on Ebay, tricked us to believe, that our personal finances are in far better shape than ourselves.

25 New Year’s Resolution Ideas

But waiting until December 2017 to set up new set of goals is not an option, and if you’re here to get my permission to do that — wrong address. You won’t get away that easily.

But to make it easier for you and to finish this blogpost, I decided to share that last video with you. While some of us are full of ideas, others happen to struggle to set something up. Ladies and Gentleman, here’s the list of 25 goals to choose from if you can’t think of something by yourself. And even if you don’t have that kind of issues, still watch the video, some of the goals are really good and I consider putting some of them on my plate myself.

Muchelleb’s Website
Muchelleb’s YouTube Channel

Productive Habits Playlist

Hope you enjoyed this small tour on the productive side of YouTube, and found something you’ll be able to implement in your daily routines. As with everything — don’t try to do all at once, because this approach almost never works.

And if you are curious about the tools, stationery and apps that the girls use to stay productive and organized, remember that we created the complete list (with links) that you can download for free by clicking on the button below:

Our platform, achiever.be, was made to address that very issue — there is indeed plenty of “how-to’s” available online, or long lists of the things you need to apply in order to achieve X, Y or Z. But we always preferred step by step approach, and moving on to the next step once you accomplished / mastered / learned / answered previous one.

So don’t be hard on yourself, pick one advice that feels “right” to you the most, and give it some time, make it a habit. And then pick the next one. And another. And another. In no time you’ll build a set of habits that will transform your life.

Enjoy watching!

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