This year was a big one for me. My income quadrupled, my workload decreased and business expanded faster than I could have imagined.
How? Simple: Intentional productivity.
Related: Become a Productivity Monster by Eliminating These 5 Time-Wasting Habits
I want to share here four of the biggest productivity tips I utilized this year that helped me make the past 12 months the most amazing year of my life. I’ll also share how you can apply these to your life to make 2016 your best year yet!
1. Employ time-blocking.
Having a to-do list is not a bad thing in itself. But why do so many people create a huge to-do list and never accomplish the items on it?
This year, I decided that a list was not enough. I needed to actually schedule time in my day to accomplish those tasks. This concept is often known as “time blocking,” and it’s so simple, but so powerful, you are going to kick yourself for not doing this earlier.
Simply take your to-do list and give each item a place on your calendar. it doesn't matter if you use a physical calendar or an online one; simply block out time to work through each item on your list.
Then, when you are in your time-block, don’t allow yourself to get distracted. Shut off your phone, don’t check your email (unless you are in your “check email time" block) and just get it done!
For more on this, be sure to read This Productivity Hack Completely Changed My Life, and It Can Improve Yours.
2. Do your most important work first.
When I really boil my day down, there are usually only one or two things that absolutely must get done to move the business forward. Yes, there are countless tasks and items on my to-do list. But one or two things are significantly more important than the rest.
In the past, I often procrastinated on these items, because they required the most effort or had the biggest “unknowns.” I would check email, schedule meetings and do a hundred other tasks before I reluctantly, if at all, went about my main task.
As a result, the one thing I really needed to do to drive my business forward often never got done, and business growth was slow.
This year, I made a change. I decided to tackle my biggest task first, before anything else. For me, that was writing a book. Each day, I woke up, and before doing anything else, I wrote 1,000 words. In exactly 100 days, I completed my first draft of The Book on Rental Property Investing, which we launched in December. We sold $150,000 worth of copies in just ten days.
For more on my book-writing process, be sure to read A Simple 4-Step Process for Writing Your First Book in 100 Days.
By scheduling your most important task of the day first, you set the tone for the rest of the day, and your business will move forward with incredible speed.
Related: The 7 Rules of Personal Productivity
3. Multitask appropriately.
Multitasking rarely works, despite what nearly everyone says. When you multitask, you simply accomplish each task less effectively. Your brain tries to switch back and forth between different tasks, and a significant part of your day is lost.
This past year, I made a commitment to multitask less and focus more on the task at hand. When my wife talked to me, I put down the computer. When driving, I refused to text. When I was on a Skype call with the rest of the BiggerPockets team, I kept the browser window closed.
Of course, I still struggle with this. Being completely present in the moment is difficult for me, as it is for a lot of people. But this past year, I made a conscious decision to multitask less and focus on one thing more.
Of course, the one exception to the “no multitasking” rule is listening to audiobooks. I’ve talked about this before, and I’ll say it again now: Listening to audiobooks or podcasts can be one of the best ways to change your life, and it doesn’t require any extra time. You can listen while driving, working out at the gym, cooking dinner, even falling asleep. It’s the perfect way to multitask effectively and become a better person.
4. Use the power of processes.
If I had to pick one word that best describes the past 12 months of my life, it would be this: process.
This year, I started to think of everything as a process, a system. As something that could be documented, repeated and outsourced. Rather than “doing a webinar,” I created a complete “webinar process” that allowed me to host more than 50 live real estate investing webinars, each one brand new, with just a few hours of work per week — because everything is part of a process.
The best part about making everything a process is that the work can be outsourced. I worked with one virtual assistant specifically on this webinar system, and he was able to take 80 percent of the work load from me. He now sets up the webinars, drafts the emails and tracks the conversion results. I just need to show up and teach.
So, these are four productivity tips that helped make my 2015 the most profitable year of my life.
But I want 2016 to be even better — so I'm looking to you for help! What is your favorite productivity tip? Leave me a comment below and let me know!
Related: 7 Healthy Habits That Maximize Your Productivity Every Day