Get More from Yourself

In this space, I write about productivity and success, some of which comes from technique, some of which comes from smart choices, and some of which comes from solid self-management.

This time, let’s consider how to get more and better results from your time, energy, and efforts by improving some of the ways you manage yourself.

Here are six straightforward suggestions for generating bigger and better results in both your work and your life:

Set a High Bar

Probably the most obvious suggestion for increasing your level of productivity and success is simply to demand more of yourself.

Depending on your situation, “more” can involve:

  • Putting in more hours and/or taking fewer/shorter breaks,
  • Working faster and more efficiently at your tasks,
  • Raising your performance standards and upgrading your capabilities,
  • Getting more things done right the first time,
  • Focusing more often on higher-value tasks, projects, and goals.

You can’t upgrade how much talent you were born with, but you can – if you try hard enough – reasonably expect to increase your levels of effort, cleverness, knowledge, focus, and skill.

Nurture Creativity

Creativity is a talent, and some people are just born with more of it than others. But at any given level of talent, some people work harder than others to tap into it, as well as to use it more fully and more often.

Creativity can yield such benefits as new ideas, new combinations and applications of old ideas, and new approaches to tasks, projects, and goals – all of which can be directed toward increasing your level of productivity and success.

Ways to upgrade your use of your innate creativity are beyond the scope of this piece. But I seriously doubt anyone reading this is already making maximum use of whatever creativity they possess. And that includes me!

That’s an obvious challenge. Let’s accept it.

Nurture Confidence

Looking back on your work and your life, you undoubtedly have quite a few triumphs and accomplishments to be proud of. By more often keeping these front and center in your mind, you can steadily bolster your confidence.

While confidence alone will not get you better results, it will provide the emotional foundation on which you can establish some important building blocks of success:

  • The willingness to take reasonable chances,
  • The readiness to implement your own plans and ideas,
  • The courage to try your best, despite doubts and uncertainties,
  • The receptivity to learn from experience – both yours and others’.

You’ll find an appropriate level of confidence nearly always works as a “force multiplier” to increase your level of productivity and success.

Strive for Steady Improvement

None of us is perfect, or is likely to become so. That makes perfection a fool’s goal. It’s much better – and more reasonable – to strive instead for steady improvement.

This approach allows you to begin wherever you are, without recriminations or regrets or feeling unworthy. It allows you to feel good about much of what you achieve, even when you fall short of your ultimate goal. It also puts you more in control of the situations you encounter, because – while you generally can’t control the outcome – you can almost always control how well you prepare and how hard you try.

If you pursue a path of steady improvement, by and large your level of results will increase as well.

Admit Errors and Fix Them

This is part and parcel of steady improvement. We all know about the part of improvement involved with developing your strengths. But we sometimes overlook another part: reducing your weaknesses. This is where admitting your errors comes in, because your errors are often vivid signposts pointing to weaknesses, including blind spots, prejudices, areas of ignorance, and all the rest.

By admitting your errors, you open the door to increased awareness of the skills, talents, knowledge, and experience you can and probably should shore up.

But let’s not forget the simple fact that admitting your errors and fixing them is a great way to directly increase your level of results, satisfaction, and success.

See the Big Picture

I was first going to use the word “strategic” and write here about the importance of seeing your work and your life as ongoing projects with pasts you could build on, presents you could fully exploit, and futures you could design and curate for maximum benefit.

But then I shifted to “the big picture,” because you can benefit from much more than strategy. You can begin to see your work and your life as parts of a larger story, with opportunities to influence – and be influenced by – more than just your own immediate circle.

When you learn to see yourself within a big picture, you can more easily moderate the momentary ups and downs brought on by day-to-day successes and failures. You can recognize and appreciate the full scope of who you are, what you are doing, and what it all means for you.

With a larger perspective, you are in a much better position to make the right choices and take the right actions to live out your values to the best of your ability.

And in the end, isn’t that an important measure of productivity and success?

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