Spring is here—although we in the northeast and other parts of the country are wondering if Mother Nature forgot to check the calendar!
Whatever the weather, spring is a great time to “clean house” both physically and mentally to ramp up your productivity for the coming months, especially if summer is your busy season.
Let me share some ideas that might work as well for you as they do for me.
Clear the Clutter for Short-Term Goals
Research has proven that clutter actually makes us less productive, according to a write-up in Entrepreneur.com. It cites a study from the Journal of Neuroscience which revealed that when there’s lots of “stuff” in our field of vision, it’s harder to focus on tasks we need to complete.
A cluttered environment “weighs down on your mental resources throughout the day, much like having a screaming toddler standing next to you while you try to get work done.” (I can relate to that one!)
June Saruwatari, author of the book Behind the Clutter, has some helpful thoughts about clearing your work space for more short-term productivity.
- What’s important right now? Go through what’s on your desk or in your office and remove anything that’s not related to or that won’t help you complete your current task. This can include personal items and well as work for other projects.
- Why do you want to keep [insert item here]? Certain items are reminders of a past success or a happy experience but keeping them could be holding you back from reaching your current goals. “Clutter is unfinished business,” says Saruwatari. “It’s what’s standing between you and the life you would love to live and create so you can be supremely happy.”
- If something motivates you, keep it. You don’t have to sit at an empty desk. If something keeps you in a positive mindset and motivates you to be productive, keep that within eyesight.
Shift Your Mindset for Long-Term Goals
There are lots of ways to do this “mental” spring cleaning. For me, as I get back outside and start hiking mountains again, I rediscover parallels between reaching the summit and achieving my long-term goals.
Like my path up the mountain, it can feel like lots of hard work to keep on track toward a long-term goal, and you have to keep believing that at the end you’ll see the summit.
I see this a lot in my work with clients. It’s not that they don’t get started on things…it’s just that at some point moving along the path to completing that goal, taking each step along the way, just feels like slogging up the mountain…it’s a huge effort and doesn’t give you much of a reward along the way and certainly not that big payoff you are looking for. This is when it gets really easy to take a side path or stop all together.
If this feels like you, here are three ways to keep the end-goal, that big reward, the “summit,” in mind so your productivity doesn’t wane:
- Know what the “summit” is before you start.Make sure you clearly define where the “summit” is at the start of the project. Sometimes it’s hard to keep moving down the path to completion because we don’t know what “finished” looks like. Before you start the project, get super clear about what the project will look like when it is finished and set a course toward that goal.
- Keep reminding yourself what the “summit” looks like.You need a process to make sure you keep reminding yourself what “finished” looks like. For long-term projects it may be a weekly review of what “finished” is.
- Reward yourself for making progress along the path.When I’m hiking up a mountain, I take breaks along the way to enjoy the surroundings, notice how far I’ve come, and have a snack to refuel. You need to do the same thing when you are working on a long-term project. Once a week, stop to notice how far you have come and celebrate your progress. When we are focused on the big picture we forget to celebrate (or even notice at all) the progress we make along the path. Celebration and acknowledgement of how far we have come will help fuel you for the rest of the journey.
This “spring cleaning mentality” works any time of year and is especially helpful to do before the busy season of your particular business, whether that’s summer, fall, or the holidays.
Take One More Step to Productivity
Along with the tips above, there’s another effective way to end procrastination, improve your productivity, and reach your goals. If you want a little extra support, check out my “5 Steps to Bust Through Procrastination and Overwhelm” webinar on Thursday, April 12, at 3:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 noon PT.
During this training you will learn:
- WHY the things you’ve planned to do to move your business forward just aren’t getting done – why what you’re doing isn’t working for you.
- HOW to take control of your time and tasks – and the actual tools to help you STOP the feelings of being weighed down, overwhelmed, and confused.
- WHAT positive mindset really is, when it works, and why it’s only one piece of the solution you need.
Just click the link below to register, and you’re on your way to amazing productivity all year long!