Trying to figure out how to make the most of 2016? Looking for productivity advice to help you maximize your efforts? Good – because it’s something you should be thinking about.
But don’t worry – I’ve already got a bunch of resources lined up for you. You might even want to bookmark this page if you don’t have a lot of time to spare.
Regardless, don’t forget – you have to apply what you learn. It won’t do you any good to read the following articles and listen to the podcast episodes if you don’t actually do anything with them.
So let’s get to it – here’s all the productivity advice you need for 2016.
Batch processing is a great way to get more out of your day. By taking similar tasks and “batching” them all together in your schedule, you can reduce the amount of time it takes for you to mentally transition from one task to the next.
For example, if you need to process your email, go through your physical mail, and return phone calls, you could schedule a specific time in your day to handle all of these things at once. They items all relatively similar in nature.
This post describes some of the downsides of batch processing as well, but if you can get into the habit of batching and apply it consistently, you’ll find that it is very effective indeed.
In the early part of 2015, I was doing quite a bit of batching, and I was finding it to be incredibly beneficial.
Again, the tricky part is in maintaining that pace, because I haven’t exactly kept up with it to this point. It’ll probably do me some good to review this post too.
But if you have clear boundaries in your schedule for when you’ll be working on what, it makes it easy to stay focused on whatever tasks you might be trying to complete.
Although I do use a slightly different process for planning my week now (I wrote this post about two years ago), I still make up to-do lists on a weekly basis, and I also like to use a desk calendar so I have a bird’s eye view of any given month.
You don’t necessarily have to subscribe to a weekly or monthly model of planning. But you should figure out what makes sense for you, and make plans accordingly.
After completing my first solo album in 2006, I decided to challenge myself to write one song every single day for a year.
I wasn’t always inspired to write – I just sat down and did it no matter what. There’s a lot you can learn from going through the motions of this exercise, and if you want to increase your personal productivity, there’s nothing quite as valuable as developing consistency through habit.
For me, going through this process taught me where some of my weaknesses and shortcomings were. I learned that relied on several devices pretty heavily, and if I wanted to bring more variety to my songwriting, I had to learn to take different approaches and use different methods.
I put this podcast episode together to give you an idea of how you can structure your life for best results.
I am certainly not suggesting that I am the best model to follow, or that my process is 100% perfect. It’s all about figuring out what works for you.
But I hope that you are able to take some of the ideas suggested here and make them your own.
What’s more important than productivity? Your values, your self-confidence, and your goals. If you don’t have these things figured out, you’ll just do things without thinking about what you actually need to do to get to where you want to go. True productivity comes from doing the things you need to do to achieve your end goals.
If you don’t want to fall into the trap of being productive for the sake of productivity, and you want to learn how to work smart, I would encourage your to check out this post.
In this podcast episode, I get into self-development guru Steve Pavlina’s time management techniques as well as specific tips for musicians.
Steve Pavlina’s productivity advice and everything he’s been able to accomplish as a result of implementing it is very inspiring, and I wanted to share this knowledge with you.
Here are some specific tips you can use to better manage your time. I also covered these in the previously linked podcast episode.
But some like to listen while some like to read, so take your pick – whatever you’re more comfortable with.
Bonus Tip: Train Yourself To Focus For Longer Periods Of Time
I recently heard Robin Sharma talk about the value of keeping your focus for longer periods of time. According to Sharma, all successful people are able to hold their concentration at length.
He suggests working for 90 minutes cycles and then taking a break or a quick breather. Rinse, repeat. This trains you to stay on-task and to shut out unnecessary distractions.
Most of us have a tendency to get distracted by YouTube videos, email, phone notifications, and the like. But when you’re about to work on something important, I would encourage you to eliminate these diversions.
We live in a time in which focus is a commodity. It shouldn’t be that way. Our work suffers, our health suffers, and our relationships suffer.
Phubbing shouldn’t even be a thing. Seriously. Get off the phone if you’re with someone you care about – a friend, a colleague or a family member. I guarantee they’re way more important than the text or Facebook message you just got. Turn off those smartphone notifications, or just turn your phone off when you don’t need it.
Make 2016 a year in which you cultivate more focus. Don’t be a goldfish, because you aren’t one. You are a human being with enormous potential, and you are engineered for success.
Author: David Andrew Wiebe
David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a touring schedule with multiple bands.