How Figuring Out Your Values Optimizes Your Time

I personally have a lot of ideas about a lot of things. I love coming up with new projects or possibilities for any number of things in my life, such as writing different books, starting more podcasts, or tinkering with procedures related to my work managing a residence hall. It is true that we can do whatever we put our minds to, but to really achieve greatness, I feel that we need to prioritize things and perhaps say no to ideas that come up. I’ve written before on productivity and motivation, which I think is a great companion piece to what I’ll share here. There are several benefits to figuring out what our values and goals are and then devoting our attention to these things instead of other stuff that doesn’t connect to these focuses. This can help us achieve more in the long run.

Here are some of the specific benefits of figuring out our values and goals when it comes to our productivity:

Gives you focus

We all have a lot of things that we have to do, and things that we want to do, but in order to not be overwhelmed or waste time on things we shouldn’t be spending time on, we need to focus. I know when I have fewer things on my to-do list, it helps to motivate me to get to work. Also, if something is on my list to do that is not connected either to my job or to my writing, podcasting, or my site, it doesn’t feel as compelling to do since it is sort of irrelevant to what I’m really focused on for myself. This is an important lesson for students especially since they’ll tend to pile on a lot on their plates in terms of involvements thinking that is better for them. I believe that it is better to have fewer, more meaningful experiences that you can really focus on versus just as many clubs, jobs, and whatever else will take you.

Helps you be more engaged

We all know the feeling of when we’re in the zone with a task that is really engaging us. It could be a creative endeavor or just logging data away for a project that is important to you. There has been a lot of talk about it recent years, “flow” as it is called, and how it is something we should all seek as much as we can in our lives. If we’re spending a bunch of our time on tasks and projects that aren’t challenging, utilizing our strengths, or bringing us joy, then we should reassess our priorities to either spend more time on other things or just take time to figure out something to do with ourselves. Some things we have to do, but anything that we can have some choice and control over devoting ourselves to should be delegated to someone else who may get more out of that endeavor than we currently are.

Minimizes stress and frustration

Everyone can agree that getting assigned a task that we do not want to do is a bummer. Ideally our teams would be maximized so we all get projects that utilize our strengths, are engaging, and fulfill us. Sometimes we can’t control this, but as much as we can, we need to make time for the things we want to make time for. Otherwise, we’re spending time on stuff that makes us frustrated, and then we’re stressed because we don’t have as much time to devote to the things we actually want to do. Minimize stress and frustration by focusing as much as you can only on projects and tasks that bring you joy.

It may seem counter intuitive, but spending time figuring out what you want to spend time on can end up helping us be more productive and efficient in the long run. Once you’ve figured out your priorities, just make sure to keep yourself organized so you don’t lose any positive momentum you achieve!

A Geek's Guide to Productivity and Motivation

* This post was originally featured on The Student Affairs Hub.

Productivity is a fickle thing. It's objectively different for all of us (and our students) and what works best in terms of our personality (morning or night, at home or a coffee shop, etc.). Nevertheless, there are some general tips that can be beneficial to anyone as we all work towards getting the most we can out of each day.

1. Celebrate Each Little Milestone

A personal habit of mine is to have a little internal celebration for each of the small achievements I reach with any project. It could be a particular metric (views, downloads, etc.) or a specific first in my life (first guest post on my blog, or my first eBook). They don't have to be the best or the biggest, they just have to be important to you. Making sure to appreciate how far you've come, even when you're first starting, helps to motivate you when the going gets tough. I know that some of my projects have grown a lot over time, and it is nice to value all of the benchmarks along the way so that I don't forget where I came from.

2. Fall in Love with the Process

Something that can be difficult for a lot of people is the hard work that goes into all the details in something as simple as a blog post. It's awesome being able to share ideas with people, but before you get it out into the world as a blog post, you have to actually write, edit, choose a title, choose a header photo, format, pick categories and tags, and then you can push it out. Even then, you'll probably need to continue to promote the content to get it out to everyone you want to check it out. If you're not prone to wanting to put in the detailed work, you're most likely going to eventually give up since you don't want to do all the work that goes into whatever it is you're doing. You have to see how all the pieces come together and fall in love with the process to fully commit to any project you're undertaking.

3. Go Big (or Go Small)

When it comes to our to-do lists, there are the simple things we need to get done which may be incremental steps in a project, and then there are those big, ugly, hairy to-do list items that we'll do anything else possible to avoid. I totally can attest to these feelings and after reading some other articles on productivity (read my original thoughts here), I've found some helpful ways to combat never getting around to those pesky tasks we don't want to do, but should get to. On a given day, either commit to doing a bunch of little things (in order of priority) and have the momentum carry you through the get as many done as you can, or commit to just getting that one big task out of the way, and if you accomplish nothing else, at least you can feel satisfied in getting that one thing done.

Hopefully by following these general ideas you (or your students) can hack your productivity and crush whatever projects you're working on, big or small.

Thanks for stopping by!

Happiness is th...

Happiness is the only true measure of personal success. Making other people happy is the highest expression of success, but it's almost impossible to make others happy if you're not happy yourself.

via (9 Daily Habits That Will Make You Happier)