I recently began a 40-day challenge. This initiative, spearheaded by one of the instructors at the yoga studio where I both volunteer and practice, is meant to support individuals who are seeking to achieve a positive life goal. Seeing as how I’m in the thick of working on my dissertation, I decided to jump into this challenge with both feet.

Following the SMART principle for goal setting, my intentions were to: 1) work on the Analysis section of my dissertation for at least 1hr every day for each of the 40 days of the challenge, and 2) exercise (e.g., walking, running, cycling, yoga) for at least 30 minutes every day for each of the 40 days of the challenge. My objective in setting these intentions were to write a large portion of the Analysis section of my dissertation, while also staying physically active. I have been known to throw myself into work and sacrifice all other areas of life, thereby becoming inactive and antisocial. So finding and maintaining balance was/is a really big goal for me.

I am currently on Day 11 of this challenge and so far it has been really great. I feel as though my dissertation is progressing really well, and I have almost managed to achieve my exercise/balance goal every day too! This got me thinking about the recipe for this present success…

A large part of my current motivation is daily accountability. Being a part of an online community of people committed to making positive life changes has been a great way track my progress and find motivation. Although I do not know most of the participants in the community outside of the online setting, it has been really great to read about their triumphs and challenges and to share about my own successes and setbacks; it has made me feel as though I’m not going through this process alone.

Because the community is open, many of my friends and family members (who are not taking part in the challenge themselves) have also been able to see my updates and track my progress. They have given me their support and encouragement too, which is a fun way to celebrate my achievements (I’m a sucker for positive reinforcement) and to keep me committed to my goals.

One of my friends even sent me this link to an article about the 6 Subtle Things That Highly Productive People Do Every Day. It’s a really accessible and quick read – so I strongly encourage you to read it – but in the interest of brevity, here are the major points:

If you want to be highly productive…

  1. Manage Your Mood
  2. Don’t Check Email in The Morning
  3. Before You Try To Do It Faster, Ask Whether It Should Be Done At All
  4. Focus Is Nothing More Than Eliminating Distractions
  5. Have A Personal System
  6. Define Your Goals The Night Before

I think that I’m already pretty good at points 1, 4, 5, and 6, so I’m trying to work on points 2 and 3. I know, I know. For those of you who know me personally, you’re likely thinking that I’ll never be able to kick the “gimme-two-seconds-I-just-need-to-check-my-email” habit. But I’m trying to work on it. Even for just the first 90 minutes of the day 😉

How about you? Are there any productivity-disrupting behaviours that you’re working on changing? Do you have any favourite strategies that improve your productivity? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Until next time,