How to be productive - the ultimate guide for those who don't know where to start

We all start every new year with an intention to fulfill our goals. It is a state of mind that leads us to push ourselves even further in life and in work, no matter what we achieved the previous year. The last day of the year came and went, and during the celebration of the New Year, it is likely that your mind wandered to the achievements you hope to accomplish in this year to come.

There are many common goals that we consider…

1. Exercise: Going jogging, training daily at the gym, or taking swimming lessons are some examples of exercise resolutions.

2. Dieting: Linked to the goal above, dieting is one of the most common goals. Along with exercising, you may also want to eliminate foods that are considered unhealthy.

3. Mastering a new instrument: Or rather learning that one you’ve always tried, but never could.

4. Taking a new course: This generally applies to those who run a business venture and want to strengthen their knowledge or become familiar with different business platforms. Failure can arise after you pay for the course and succeed in the first few weeks, but then neglect to keep up with the course work.

5. Starting your business online: This goal is the one of which I am asked about the most, since it is my specialty as a consultant. People want to know how to get organized in order to complete their beloved projects that will take a business idea to the next level. Often, this goal is not successful due to the lack of an initial spark or successful outset.

Unable to uphold a resolution or goal? This is a familiar situation for all of us. We are victims of “over-programming tasks” but we are not “active programmers," meaning that we are not dedicated to actually DOING. While we may be good at planning, we’re not so good at following through.

So how can you succeed? Below are some common questions with simple answers to help you get started.

1. How do I set my goals for this year?

This is your starting point: a new year lets you set new goals, and your success will depend on your needs and commitments.

Review pending goals from the previous year: The first thing to do is analyze which pending issues you are going to bring with you from the previous year. You must define whether they are important and how you intend to fulfill them. It is essential to know that it is important to not leave a bad impression of your work. So, if you have not finished something, one of your first goals should be to complete and close those pending matters from 2017.

Get to know your needs and priorities: Before setting a goal, it is important to define what you will devote our energy to and, more importantly, your time (time is the most important resource and the one that you do not get back). Let me give you some examples. If your priority is to work on a financial situation of yours, then check which actions will serve you best. If your priority is of a physical nature, then set short-term goals that help you to solve your concerns—for example, go for a health check up, improve your eating habits and consider a sport to practice.

Make a list of projects: Having already defined your priorities, create projects for each of the corresponding areas in Nozbe and start fulfilling them. Organize your projects by adding deadlines and defining priorities during the week. It is important that you determine the amount of time for which you will work on each project, dividing your day into specific periods of time, if you find it convenient, or in working days. For example, in the morning, I will dedicate my time to work on the entrepreneurship project, and in the afternoon, I will work on my health matters.

2. How can I organize my work and projects this year?

Begin by clearing your mind and leaving everything to your trusted system. Obviously, in my case, the system I use and trust is Nozbe. All my planning is based on a simple strategy of managing my projects, tasks and timelines.

If you organize your work in Nozbe rather than in your mind, you will no longer have to worry about remembering. Instead, you can focus on doing.

The process is easy: create projects, list actions, assign times (start and finish) and, finally, take action.

I insist on setting start and finish dates, because this helps you plan how busy your schedule will be. It’s essential that you synchronize Nozbe with your personal calendar; Google Calendar works the best for me.

3. How can I best organize my projects and fulfill them?

The answer is as simple as it is complex: you can succeed by generating habits and performing routines.

The secret to all productivity is based heavily on habits; no matter how intelligent, organized and controlling you are, if you haven’t established good habits, you are not as likely to achieve your goals. It is the Achilles' heel of any intention of being productive. You plan, organize and start, but when there is no established methodology, you can easily fail.

NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) experts say that to establish a habit, it is important to perform it for 21 days in a row, and thus the mind stops seeing it as something tedious. Rather, the mind understands that it is something that matters.

Here, a new problem begins: reaching 21 days without weakening. Our minds are very deceitful in this sense, telling you from the very first moment you propose to do this work that 21 days will be very tedious, that the goal is far away, that it will be a lot of work and that it is better that we rest or do something more pleasant—and it is at this point where procrastination takes hold of us.

Well, there is a very simple solution to this: stop worrying about tomorrow, which will already bring its own worries; on the contrary, make the day as important as if it is your last chance to reach your goals in your life. It’s as simple as that. Worry about taking one step at a time, rather than worrying about all the steps you are going to take in life. Establish plans of action for each day, and try to fulfill them as often as possible. Routines generate habits, and in less time than you think, you will be on the other side of the river. Remember: you do not control tomorrow—you control the now. Tomorrow’s actions will be another day’s story.

Finally, I want to leave you with a message of hope

Perhaps you read these kind of articles because you want to make a change, because you are looking for a new opportunity, because you think you have hit rock bottom and do not know what to do. I want to tell you that it is always time to make a change. Everything is defined by your actions. It is time to stop looking at the past with regret and see it as the path you have to leave behind to initiate the change you need.

You are not alone; we are here to serve you and give you support during that process. If you are a fan of Nozbe and want to give productivity a chance, don’t hesitate to contact me.

I wish you great success this year, and happy productivity.

Jhonn Vesga
Nozbe Ambassador in Colombia. He is currently a digital marketing consultant, presenter and journalist of a regional channel. Entrepreneurship has strongly defined his role in the productivity world.