I love achievement - getting things done. There is a certain joy and sense of satisfaction in ticking off a job on my task list. Because of this, I am always looking for ways to get more done in a day and to be more productive. I do this by talking to other high achieving people and reading books or articles on productivity.
Here are my Top 10 Recent Learnings about Productivity:
1. Know the outcomes or results you desire for the year ahead. If you aim at nothing, you will be sure to hit it. Activity is not accomplishment. Beginning with the end in mind is essential to success in any endeavour and remembering the big picture helps to keep you motivated each day.
2. Shift away from a lengthy task list and start making appointments with yourself. Record the things you want to do in your diary or Calendar. Research indicates that 41% of tasks on a to-do list never actually get completed, often because there is no note included as to how long the task will take. Why not change your approach! After all, what gets scheduled gets done.
3. Establish 2-3 "Most Important Tasks" for each day and focus on getting them done. Finish the day with a sense of accomplishment rather than feeling discouraged because of everything you didn't get done. Scheduling tasks in your Calendar with the allocated amount of time needed to accomplish each task clearly assists in this matter.
4. Don't prepare elaborate plans for complex projects. Simply review the project frequently and ask the question, "What is my next action?" Then schedule that. It's about "baby steps". Once you know WHAT you want and WHY you want it, the strategy of HOW to get there will emerge and can be adapted along the way.
5. Manage your energy not just your time. You can't be DOING things all the time. Quarantine your work to reasonable hours and, outside of that, learn to simply BE, enjoying your family and friends and engage in replenishing activities.
6. Create times of focus without the lure of distractions or interruptions. Turn off your email (in fact, why not only check it 2-3 times a day?), social media and your phone. Concentrate on the task or project at hand for a good 90 minutes. You'll be amazed at how much you get done. Multi-tasking is a myth. It simple leads to doing multiple things poorly.
7. Schedule a weekly appointment with yourself to review the previous week and plan the coming week. I take 60-90 minutes for this first thing every Monday morning and it is one of my most effective habits of productivity.
8. Schedule time each week to clear the clutter. A clean desk, an empty inbox, or an organised desk directly affects the clarity of thinking you will experience.
9. Review your commitments and get release from those that are no longer important or valuable to you. When you say YES to something you are saying NO to something else. NO is a very positive word and we need to learn to say it more frequently ... with a smile and without feeling guilty. By reducing your task list or things that you are committed to, you free up valuable time to engage with what is more important. Don't do everything right, just do the right things.
10. Take a few regular breaks in your work day. Sometimes the best thing you can do is STOP working and do something else for a few minutes. Take a walk, drink a glass of water, eat an apple or read a magazine article. When you return to your task or project at a later time, you will notice a fresh amount of energy and effectiveness.
If you want to learn more and dive a little deeper, here are some recommended resources:
- First Things First by Stephen Covey. This timeless classic unpacks the importance of keeping first things first.
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen. This is one of the best books ever written on productivity and setting up a system that clears the clutter.
- Your Best Year Ever: A 5 Step Plan to Achieving Your Most Important Goals by Michael Hyatt. This newly released book outlines Michael's simple strategy for crafting your best year ever.
- The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. This books highights the importance of managing our energy, not just our time, along with how to do so.
- The Essentialist: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. You can't do everything but you can do what really matters.
Here's to an enjoyable and productive week!