Time being the most precious resource you have. Wouldn't you like to try to make the best of it?
Here's how… this is just the tip of the iceberg, and forms part of the framework to increase your productivity and get $hit done!
1. Prioritize – this is where most people end up in a fix, everything is urgent, everything is important. It isn't. If you're in such a situation – you haven't prioritized.
That just means asking the most important question – which is more important, which can wait and which one is going to get you closer to your goal?
Remember, if you're not focused on your agenda, you're probably helping someone else get theirs done. Don't do stuff that's easy – do stuff that counts. If you do the easy stuff, you'll end up not doing the hard or difficult stuff – that really needs to get done for you to make progress.
There are a couple of ways to do this, sort your list into A, B and C – the simpler it is, the easier it gets done. Focus on A and B and ignore C for when you have time… or if you can get someone else to do it. A's are important and urgent, B's are important. There are variations of this… like, an AB task or AC task – go up to E tasks – but I find keeping it simple, makes sure things are done.
Sometimes I've found that the non-urgent but important tasks are the real difference makers. They generally take longer, but they give you the most impact. But whatever you do, don't under any circumstance, fail to do it – don't even skip it for an easier tasks. Get it done – first thing in the morning.
Warren Buffett suggested writing a list of 25 things, and then ignoring the last 20 and focusing only on 5 things.
At Goldman Sachs, they teach you to focus on only 3 things for that day. Period.
If you want to have a successful life… focus on just 1 thing! Automate or outsource (I hate that word) to others. Should you put a time frame against each task – imho – no – because generally when you are starting this exercise, you either don't know or underestimate. But I've found that the best increments are 20 minutes as suggested by Francesco Cirillo using the Pomodoro Technique.
2. Pomodoro Technique – If you want to be efficient, ask Pareto – he knew better- that 20% of your efforts generate 80% of your results. So let's focus on the essential 20% to get away with being lazy.
Go through your list and try to figure out what will give you the best impact for your time spent. But when we focus, think in terms of minutes… each minute you spend is valuable, so make every minute count.
Do this, and you'll feel much better about yourself… block time in 20 minute increments, followed by a 5 or 10 minute break to walk, stretch, breath or play a quick game – anything to distract your mind.
You can use the electronic versions of the tomato shaped egg timer – or just a real windup egg timer to do the job!
3. Doing First Thing First – don't tell me whatever you do is a priority. You just don't have time between saving lives and changing the world and if you're lucky – changing your kids diapers. Get real.
Do your most important work when your body is rested, strong and fresh. Studies have shown that our will power weakens during the day. Carl Ichan, wealthy billionaire knew this and took advantage of people's will power by starting his negotiations late in the evening… when most lawyers had finished a day of work and were just too tired to think clearly. Carl, was fresh and ready to take advantage of them and more often than not, win the negotiation.
What is the one thing you want to achieve – get that done first, take back your day… by focusing on what's important in your life.
And that also means – don't answer emails first thing in the morning. In fact, you can jump start your day by listening to something motivational – to get your blood warm and circulation going. I don't care if you listen to Rocky, or Bach… or my recommendation of Brain.FM or FocusAtWill – whatever it is that gets you in the mood as soon as possible, and get it done. Amen to productivity!