Be Productive. Focus on the One Thing.
There’s a famous book by Gary Keller called, “The One Thing“. The premise is that you can be far more productive by choosing to work on one thing at a time. Being mindful of how you spend your time is becoming increasing important as new distractions become more prevalent. It’s now easier than ever to stay busy, doing nothing. There’s no such thing as multitasking. The sooner you realize this and adjust your behavior, the better off you’ll be. What’s the one thing you can be working on right now that will help you really move the needle to eventually accomplish your big goal?
To-Do’s or To-Don’ts.
Everyone seems to think the best way to get things done is to put it down on a to-do list and wait until you have time to do it…wrong. Studies have shown that less than half of what ends up on your to-do list ever gets checked off. How many times have you found an old list of things you “just had to get done”. You look at the list and realize a lot of it never got done and most of it doesn’t really need to anymore. Rather than putting all your “important” stuff on a list somewhere, schedule it. Using a free tool like Google Calendar can help keep you accountable for that task. You can’t put anything on the calendar without blocking out time for the task. When you have something scheduled, that notification you get will force you to confront the task. This one is a little controversial, but I have to say after living in both worlds…I’d say to-do’s don’t work.
This is a screenshot of a Google Calendar. I recently switched from occasionally planning things in the “monthly” view to planning everything in the “weekly” view. You’ll notice the red line on the weekly view, this thing moves relentlessly through the day. It stops for nothing. You can’t help but notice this line and question what you’re currently working on. Are you on schedule or are you busy doing something that isn’t truly necessary? You’ll also notice that everything on the calendar inherently has a time and length assigned. It’s tough to forget about stuff when you’re getting alarms and notifications reminding you what’s important.
Now that you know how important it is to schedule the most important things you’re working on, it’s time to schedule time for you. Whether it’s taking the time to go workout, read or just take a break, don’t be afraid to schedule it. It’s important to maintain a balance throughout the day. The idea isn’t to just sit at your desk like a robot mindless ticking through tasks. You’ll find that you can actually be even more productive when you’re taking some time to relax and grow. I’ve even started scheduling workouts. It’s easy to say you have a gym membership and you might even think you go a lot. You know what’s easier? Try starting your day with 10-15 minutes of exercise. Doing this on a daily basis will get your blood flowing and your mind working. It will probably also provide some real perspective on how ofter you really make it to the gym. Plus, who doesn’t have 10 minutes a day to unplug for a moment?
Just Say No.
This one is hard and it will probably take some practice. But if you’re able to master it, you’ll find all sorts of saved time. Sure, it’s nice to be able to help people. But don’t fall into the trap of having all your time consumed with other people’s issues and agendas.
Another trap you might find yourself in is the daily happy hour, or nightly Netflix binge, or the fantasy football you can’t seem to kick. Sure it’s good to take a break every once in awhile, but realize you’re always saying “no” to something. It’s your responsibility to be in control of what that something is. When you choose to set your mind on getting something accomplished, it’s critical that you focus and not let anything stop you. Just say no.Click To Tweet
Batch Your Emails To Be More Productive
The most productive entrepreneurs learn to handle their email in batches, checking it only a few times a day. How many times have you seen a little notification pop up while you’re working or heard the email ‘ding’ while you’re on the road? You whip out your cellphone, only to find a worthless ad for 5% off your next tire rotation. Sure it might have only taken a few seconds to go click and see what it was, but it happens hundreds of times a day. We’ve been trained to respond to those cues and immediately take action. According to DMR, the average people receives over 120 emails every day. Even just a few seconds at a time can add up to substantial losses in productivity when looking at it on a weekly scale. You also have to take into account the time that takes to switch tasks.
Instead, schedule 2-3 times a day where you can shut everything else off for a bit and focus on going through emails. It’s much easier, and faster, to go through emails back-to-back. In addition, you’ll gradually train people to not expect an immediate response. This may sound terrible, but if they know you might not respond until tomorrow, you’ll get a much more thorough and actionable message, instead of them wasting your time using email like a private live chat.
Email A, which presents an action item. This will allow you to provide meaningful feedback.
VS Email B, which leaves the conversation open and likely ongoing.
Which email would you rather get? Also, think about what kind of email you’re sending. Emails often lack the thought and structure that allow people to quickly resolve ongoing projects, issues, etc. Are you giving enough information to help wrap up the topic, or are you short and vague, inherently causing more emails to come into your overstuffed inbox?
Being productive instead of busy can be a challenge, but it’s well worth it. You must be intentional with your time. You’ll never meet a successful person that doesn’t value their time, usually above anything else. Focus on the things that really count and don’t get stuck just being busy.