Productivity is the art of doing what’s most worth your time.
That means in order to truly have a productive day, you need to get your most important work done.
Here are a few things you can do to make that happen…
Pick one thing that matters most.
So obvious, so rarely done.
While multiple tasks may be important, they can’t be EQUALLY important.
To get your most important work done, you must identify what that work is.
There’s no productivity without priorities.
Do your most important work first.
The longer you put it off, the more likely something will get in the way of doing it.
Start your day with your top priority and — if possible — don’t work on anything else until you’re able to finish it.
Optimize your schedule for this approach by blocking out time at the start of every day so you’re able to dedicate it to the day’s most important work.
Make it painful to NOT do your most important work.
Important work is often hard, scary, or simply not enjoyable.
Your instinct will be to hide from it, ignore it, or find ways to avoid doing it.
To counter this, figure out how to make it more painful for you to NOT do it than it is painful to do it.
One way to do this is to stick your failure directly in your face so you’re constantly reminded you’re letting yourself down by not doing your most important work.
Write a note that mocks or criticizes yourself for not doing your most important work and place it on your computer or workspace where you can’t help but see while you’re doing less important work.
If your most important work is to write 1,000 words a day, try a note like this:
I know that’s harsh, but that’s the point.
You want to create enough pain that it drives you to do your most important work and not avoid it.
Stare at that note long enough, and eventually you’ll write your 1,000 words just so you can take it down.
Trigger yourself. Beat yourself up. Make yourself feel bad.
It’s for a good cause and you’ll thank yourself for doing so later.
Make a list of things you’re NOT going to today.
Don’t pretend you’re going to get everything done today — you’re not.
The more things you vow NOT to spend time on, the better your chances of getting the most important things done.
Remove or postpone half the things on your To Do list at the start of every day.
Be deliberate in what you set out to do in order to ensure you focus on the important stuff.
And while you’re drafting your list of things you’re not going to do today, feel free to add distractions like checking social media, checking email more than a set number of times during the day, or answering unscheduled phone calls when you’re doing other work.
Treat every day like two days.
Even if you follow the above suggestions, something unexpected may pull you away from your most important work.
Rather than beat yourself up for the false start and/or write the day off as a failure, try this:
Treat every day like two separate days.
One that starts in the morning and one that starts after lunch.
This is a bit of a mindset trick, but it works.
No matter what happened to your day in the morning, the afternoon is a fresh start and a blank slate if you choose to treat it as such.
You have the ability to start over and accomplish your most important work, simply by having a productive afternoon.
Every minute is a chance to start over and you can give yourself a re-start whenever you want, but at a minimum take advantage of a natural mid-day break to reframe your mind and make the most of what remains of the day.
And if your afternoon goes off the rails too?
There’s always that time you blocked off in your schedule to do your most important work first thing tomorrow morning!
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