A lot of times, people want to do something but don’t take the time to do that something or to change what’s necessary to get that done. Productivity is one of those things, where people want to be more productive but never actually do anything to become more productive. Cathy Sexton, a productivity strategist and coach and founder of The Productivity Experts, says that this is the case because people don’t take the time to recognize the benefits of doing something and of being more productive. “People are just overwhelmed today. They don’t see an end and they don’t know where to start,” she said. “There’s value in thinking about what things would look like if they were different.”
Sexton started her business in 2003, coaching and speaking to folks about reducing stress and frustration in order to live productive, peaceful lives. She said that one of the most common problems she addresses with her clients is learning what to control and how to control those things.
“We can only control four things: time, money, energy, and our attitude or behavior,” she said. “People try to control others or try to control the situation, when we just can’t. [Recognizing] this optimizes our time and energy while reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed.”
Sexton said that one of the biggest myths about productivity is that it’s all about time management, when it’s much more than that. Productivity includes emotional intelligence, being organized, taking action, and working naturally. She said that everyone has a productivity style, which is essentially how we make decisions and pace ourselves. By understanding this, we can get more done, have less frustration, and be better equipped to handle what’s going on.
“It’s about understanding who we are and working with that,” she said. “For example, if you need structure, then you need to be in a [work] position where you can follow a structure and go from step A, to B, to C.”
Not everyone is in a place where they can change jobs and find a position that suits their productivity style, but this doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything that can be done to improve your productivity. Sexton said that one thing anyone can do today to be more productive is to make a decision, and then take the next action. This moves yourself forward, allowing you to plan what you are doing instead of reacting or spending time getting the wrong things done.
In fact, there are four things that need to happen in this decision making process to ensure that the process is productive, but also that the decisions made and the tasks completed were also worthwhile. The four things are:
- Plan – This is more than just reacting to events, but strategizing what you’re going to do and how you are going to handle a situation.
- Eliminate – Productivity is more than getting things done, but getting the right things done. You need to take the wrong things out of your day, those tasks that don’t really move you forward or accomplish anything.
- Prioritize – Organize those ‘right things’ that you need to get done.
- Take Action – Do what needs to get done.
“Productivity is an ongoing process. You must work at it,” she said. “The time you take to set up these processes will come back 100-fold.”