Now that we’ve discussed the different stages in the productivity cycle, I would like to share with you the benefits and how to build a productivity cycle. Lest you forget, personal productivity is completing the actions that move you closer to accomplishing your goals in a manner that brings balance and ease into your life. It’s all about completing an action cycle. Knowing what your objectives are and the actions necessary to reach them is the trick to boosting your personal productivity practices. Therefore, a productivity cycle is a repeatable sequence of actions you perform on an evenly-spaced, regular basis. You might perform the actions daily, weekly, monthly, or on some other periodic basis.
What are the Benefits of a Productivity Cycle?
- Productivity Cycles Make Your Practice More Deliberate.
To get good at something, you need “deliberate practice.” Since productivity cycles force you to formalize your actions, you bring structure to your work. That structure makes it easier for you to break down your actions into components and connect what you do to the results you get.
- Productivity Cycles Save Mental Energy.
When you do predetermined actions on a predetermined basis, you spend less time and energy thinking about priorities. Shifting priorities waste mental energy, so having cycled to follow save that energy.
- Productivity Cycles End Procrastination.
When a process is formalized into a productivity cycle, you reduce a lot of the emotional dread around unpleasant tasks—or even tasks that are merely unpleasant to begin. Well-placed cycles create a “now-or-never” sense of urgency, and defined processes take the mental pain out of performing an unpleasant task.
- Productivity Cycles Work With Your Natural Rhythms.
Our energy ebbs and flows throughout our day, our week, even our year. If you can find the patterns in these ebbs and flows, you can work with those patterns, instead of against those patterns. Take what you learn about your own natural productivity rhythms, formalize them with productivity cycles, and you’ll be working with your natural rhythms.
- Productivity Cycles Create Space.
When you’re saving mental energy and emotional waste on one task, you’re creating space for other tasks. You can use that space for the task of simply relaxing, or you can use it to produce more work.
Factors to Consider When Creating Your Own Productivity Cycle
- How Much Creative Flexibility Do You Need?
Early on in any creative endeavour, you need creative flexibility. For example, when starting a podcast, you might not know what format you want but you can research and equip yourself on different formats which can be: narrative, interrogative (interview), or descriptive (essay). Also for a start, you might not need to produce a month’s worth of episodes at a time but it can be episode by episode to gain more knowledge on how to run it. Creativity can happen within different structures which you need to be certain of.
- What’s Your Skill Level In The Task?
Productivity cycles involve formalizing your activities with processes. It’s hard to formalize an activity for which your skill level is low—you still don’t know the best process to follow. Additionally, longer cycles can cause your skills to deteriorate, as you aren’t practising those skills off-cycle.
- What Level Of Quality Do do You Need?
Formalizing your processes, especially in creative work, will improve your quality to some degree. But it can also reduce your quality. Sometimes, it’s worth it. Imagine creating a cycle that saves you five hours a month. If saving those five hours reduces your quality level from 95% to 90%, is it worth it? It all depends upon the level of quality you need.
How To Build A Productivity Cycle
- Start With A Habit
Especially when it comes to new skills, habits reduce procrastination and build the skill so that starting resistance is weaker. You can begin with an extremely tiny habit. For example, if you want to write, you can start with 50 words a day. If you want to podcast, you can commit to working on your podcast for five minutes a day. Keep the habit up to build your skill and confidence in the task.
- Experiment With Timing
You’ll be better at some things in the mornings than you are in the afternoons, and vice versa. Experiment to find the best time of day, or even day of the week, to do a certain task. Besides your quality and skill level, you also need to consider a priority. Just because you answer emails well in the morning doesn’t mean you should do it. It might mean a more important task, such as writing, suffers for it.
- Document Your Process
Your eventual goal is to have a checklist you can follow each time you do the task. But, that’s a tall order early on. Start by taking rough notes. Refer to those notes each time you do the task, and refine them as you see fit. Eventually, you’ll have a checklist you can follow yourself, or that you can use to delegate the task to someone else.
- Begin Batching
You’ve heard the advice to “batch”—or produce a lot of one item all at once. But who has the skill and motivation to do that right away? Now that you’ve built skill, figured out your timing, and reduced mental load through a documented process, you can start batching your task. How many units can you muster to produce at how long of an interval? Five daily units, produced once a week? Four, produced once a month? Twelve, produced once a year? It all depends upon flexibility, skill level, and quality.
Building powerful productivity cycles is an ongoing learning process. With enough practice, you’ll have a sustainable system for producing your best work whenever and whatever you prefer.
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