Today, we’re all busier than ever. Technology has not reduced our workload. In many cases, it has added to the amount we’re expected to accomplish each day. In the midst of our chaotic days, we don’t have to look very hard to find the latest advice regarding how to be more productive. The problem however, is we don’t have the time to learn a new productivity system. So, what do we do?
I think there are four things you can do everyday that will make you more productive. The great news is these things are very easy and don’t require you to learn a complicated system. Here they are:
- Focus on What’s Important. Okay, I know, this one seems like a no-brainer, but here’s what I mean. To-Do lists can be difficult for many people. They can become really long and intensely overwhelming. I’d suggest you make a note (on paper or electronically) of anything you have to do when you think of it. This is not the list you’ll be working from, however. Each day, from that huge list you’re creating, pick the top 3-5 things (tasks not projects – see #2 below) that must be done today. Your “must-do” list shouldn’t contain less than three and should not be more than five tasks. Put all your focus, for that day, on completing those “must-do” tasks. Be sure to first prioritize them in order of importance. And, don’t start on the easiest or the least painful. Do them in the order of their true importance.
- Update the necessary steps for ongoing projects. You’ll always have two or three projects you are working on. A project is not one task, it’s a collection of many smaller tasks. Each day, look at each of your current projects (you should never be working on more than three projects at one time) and determine the steps that are critical in order to move the project forward that day. Be sure that these steps, in addition to the “must-dos” from number one above, are completed that day. Be realistic. Set yourself up for success, not failure.
- Follow-up on three things you’ve been waiting on. We always have tasks or projects that are delayed because we are waiting on someone or something. Maybe we need more information, maybe we’re waiting on a document, or perhaps we can’t move ahead until someone else completes something on their end. Each day look back at the top three items, or people, you’re waiting on and make an intentional effort to get what you’re waiting for.
- Identify the top three conversations you need to have. Almost everyday you have to interact with others. At the beginning of each day, make a list of the top three conversations you must have that day. Then have those conversations. They can be via email, instant messenger, Skype, phone, or in person. Regardless of the medium of dialogue, have those conversations today.
If you will commit to those four things each day, you’ll be fascinated at how much more you get done. Instead of ending the day with the feeling you left much undone, you’ll begin to wind up your day with a sense of accomplishment. You’ll feel good about what you did today and you’ll look forward to an even more productive tomorrow.
Question: Can you create a form to track the information you’ll need each day for items 1-4 above? If so, do it today.