One the reasons successful people are successful, is that they get more done. We all want to get more accomplished each day, whether it’s the work you have to do or the work related to your life’s purpose. So, what follows are some tips and methods that I use to get more done each day.
1. The Fantastic Five. Conquering the next day actually starts the day before for me. On the night before, I list the 5 most important things that I HAVE to accomplish the following day. I’ve seen people with to-do lists that are 20-30 items long. Not me. With long lists, it’s very hard to get everything done. So it can be tempting to just cross-off a few minor things so that you can show progress to yourself. The problem is just that – you can end-up completing minor tasks that really aren’t that important. I stick to the top five most important things I need to do. So, how do you filter all your tasks down to five? Ask yourself this question about each item on your list – Will accomplishing this task result in a major step forward in one of my life goals? If yes, it’s on the list. If not, it doesn’t go on. This will force you to focus only on the big, life-changing actions.
2. Catch the worm. I’ve always been an early riser and it’s benefitted me tremendously. Consider getting up an hour before you normally wake. You’ll find that there’s a magic time in the morning, before the phone rings and anyone else starts imposing on your time. Does the thought of getting up an hour earlier make you groan? I hear you. Start by setting your alarm clock to wake-up just 15 minutes earlier. Try that for a couple of weeks until you’re in the habit. Once you’re comfortable getting up 15 minutes earlier, try setting the clock for 15 minutes earlier and so on. Before you know it, you’ll be rising with the chickens, a full hour earlier and seizing your day!
3. Go directly to work, do not collect email. The day’s first challenge of your time will often determine how the rest of the day will play out. If you can resist the temptation of getting sucked into checking email in the morning, you’ve already won the day. A quick win in the morning sets the right tone for the rest of the day. I’ll admit, this one is hard for everybody. But if there’s one high leverage tip for mastering your day, it’s this. Email and social media can be huge time sinks and are often low value activities, so it’s best to avoid them in the morning.
4. Zorro Pomodoro. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a kitchen timer to break down work into intervals 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are known as “pomodori”, the plural of the Italian word pomodoro for “tomato”. The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve your mental agility. There are five basic steps to implementing the technique: 1.Decide on the task to be done. 2.Set the pomodoro timer to 25 minutes. Work on the task until the timer rings. Take a short break (3–5 minutes) and repeat. After four pomodori, take a longer break (15–30 minutes). Have you ever said, “I can do anything when I set my mind to it?”. Well, this technique helps sets your mind to it.
5. Step Out Instead Of In. Inertia is the tendency to do nothing. Sometimes, the hardest part is just starting. Have you ever found that it’s hard to start a task that’s difficult or complex? For some, the more important an activity is in their life (i.e. the thing they most need to do), the more they put off starting. However, if you can just get moving on it, even for a few minutes, it gets easier. What happens is that one of the other laws of physics kicks in – “An object in motion tends to stay in motion. “ Rather than focusing on finishing something, just resolve to start. The more often you start, the more things you’ll get finished. Overcoming that first bit of inertia can be the biggest challenge.
6. Ultimate ultimatums. Some projects require you to work on them for months, like say writing a book. When faced with large projects it can be easy to wander off track or spend too much time on small details. It’s best to break a larger project down into smaller chunks and give yourself an ultimatum for each chunk. With this technique, you assign a set amount of “production” per day to work on a task. For example, each Saturday morning, your ultimatum to yourself is to write 10 pages on your book, no matter what. You won’t get up from your chair, answer the phone or get another cup of coffee until you’ve completed your required 10 pages. With this technique, don’t worry about quality at first as much as just achieving the ultimatum. You want to establish a rhythm and you can always go back and polish your work later. This is similar to Jerry Seinfeld’s “don’t break the chain”.
7. One dance only. One of the big time killers is working on something multiple times. It’s best to have a system where you only handle things once. One of the best resources out there for developing workflow systems is the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. Allen developed what he calls a two-minute rule, which states that as one goes through their list and determines next actions, any next action that can be completed in two minutes or less should be completed immediately. In this way, a lot of items are touched only once and get checked off as completed, instead of left to “pile-up” for another day. Dance with your tasks only once and then move on.
Hopefully these tips can help you stay focused and more importantly, follow through on what you intend to do. What you intend to do should always be in alignment with your reason why (your demand) and relate to your long-term vision of yourself. Without that, you may waste time on things that don’t matter.
As much as possible try to spend the first few minutes of each day thinking about the life that you’re creating and why what you are about to do is important to you. Keeping those things front-and-center will help you stay in-sync with your reason why.
Now it’s your turn. What works for you to be more productive? Leave your comments and some of your own tips in the comments section, to share with the rest of the readers.
To your freedom,