Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we contemplate the year ahead and optimistically imagine ourselves as the best we can be. Why not give yourself a real shot at greatness by being your most productive? Here are 5 proven ways to do just that.
Follow the 2-minute rule. I first learned of this from productivity guru David Allen. Whatever comes your way, if you can take care of it in 2 minutes or less, do it right then. This includes a thought crossing your mind about something you need to do. Don’t let it fly by. Putting it off will end up costing you much more time and chew up valuable mental energy. It also includes tasks like putting someone’s phone number or email in to your smartphone as soon as you get their real or virtual card. I met with a client recently who told me that following this one rule had put her on a more productive trajectory. It’s a catalyst to do more in less time.
Create your daily list of key To-Do’s. May 2013 be a year when you’re never sitting around wondering what to do. You should always pull out your list and consult it as your guide. I’m done with forgetting important things or putting them off until the end of the day. Chet Holmes recommends no more than 6 items be put on your list and that each one be important with time blocked on your calendar to ensure they’re handled. If you take your daily list to this level, then you can’t help but be powerful every day.
Don’t be a slave to your email. As the sales numbers for smartphones go through the roof the reality is that more and more people are becoming enslaved by the new email notification that appears on the phone’s home screen. This is not the way to be productive! I know that a few of my contacts have an auto-reply that says they look at email but a few times a day and you should attempt to call them if it’s urgent. Others will turn off their email during intense get work done periods so there can be no distraction. Think of it like this: Nobody who gets massive work done in a short amount of time is checking their email regularly. It can’t be done since you’ll lose your mental flow and time will slip through your fingers like sand in an hourglass. One more tip on email that Chet mentioned in his awesome book, The Ultimate Sales Machine, don’t look at an email if you aren’t prepared to deal with it right then and there. Makes sense doesn’t it? But do you honor that? Remember the 2-minute rule.
Act like you’re going on vacation tomorrow. When I listened to Robert Allen’s Multiple Streams of Income program many years ago I learned much from it. What I remember that pertains to this topic is that you should consider how you work on the day before a one-week vacation. Aren’t you on fire that day getting things done like there’s no tomorrow? Exactly! Why only save this sort of productivity for those few times a year (or decade if you’re a small business owner). Here’s the technique Robert recommends: Work your tail off for 50 minutes. Then take 10 minutes off to do whatever you want. Make a call to a friend, look at Facebook, have a snack, whatever. Then, at the top of the next hour go to work again like you mean it.
Don’t over commit. For many there seems to be a badge of honor associated with being overloaded. We’re constantly asked to do more and more and we accept knowing that we probably don’t have the time to do it, but somehow we’ll just make it work. In a related blog post I ask readers to try under-commitment for a change. In my mind this is the way to do your best work. Our minds need time to rest and recharge. When we have slack time in our week, we can actually sit down and think. Remember that? Productivity and creativity go together. Have time in your schedule to take walks; to sit on a park bench; to gaze out the window and watch rain fall; or sit in your favorite chair in your library and just think. The more you think the more you’ll get clear on how to handle the inevitable challenges that come your way. You will generate solutions instead of anxiety. If you have too much to do this valuable productivity tool will be untapped.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it is full of proven gems. If you follow these rules as the new year dawns you will find yourself to be more productive than ever. I’d love to hear what your favorite rules for maximizing your productivity are. Please post them below as well as your comments on mine.
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