Ever agonized over how successful people just seem to get more done in a day? How to they do it all!?
Here's the secret: It’s not just about getting more things done; it’s about getting the right things done first.
As a former procrastination artist, I began a quest studying time management from time management masters. I want to share with you what I learned along the way. Much of my advice comes from all the videos, articles, programs, and books that the businessman Brian Tracy has released on the topic.
1. MAKE A MINDSET SHIFT
The first thing step to being great at time management and productivity is to believe that you're great at time management and productivity.
Brian Tracy argues that all the techniques on time management in the world won’t help you if you still hold the belief that you are bad at time management.
Program your subconscious to believe that you are great at time management and organization. When people ask you if you're organized – tell them you are! You have to start believing it so that you don’t hold yourself back.
Being better at productivity is a long-term habit-forming process. It takes determination, perseverance, and decisiveness to commit to the process. Change can happen – but you have to will it.
2. UNDERSTAND YOUR VALUES
Now that this is covered, you need to understand what you value most. If you don’t have your priorities straight, how can you prioritize?
To properly prioritize, you must have values beyond just your career and business objectives. What are your values and goals for your life?
Without a clear perspective on your overall life values, you could end up pursuing a goal that doesn't serve you. This ends up being unproductive in the long run even if you’re efficient in completing the task.
3. USE THE PARETO PRINCIPLE: WHAT IS THE HIGHEST IMPACT ACTIVITY YOU CAN DO?
The Pareto Principle is a concept that applies to many things in life: 80% of the results come from 20% of the work.
An example of this is wealth: 80% of the world’s wealth comes from less than 20% of the people in it.
You will find that this principle is more pronounced in certain areas. Use this in your prioritization.
Ask yourself: What is the #1 thing you can do this week that will bring you the highest impact?
What is the #2 thing?
Usually, it’s very obvious. Do that first. Begin the day with that.
Another related principle that will help is the four quadrants principle called the Eisenhower Matrix. I talked about it in this article.
4. DO IT NOW!
Having trouble beginning? The best way to be productive is to begin immediately. Start your day with your most important task. To motivate yourself, say to yourself “Do it now! Do it right this instant!” 10 to 30 times with emotion and enthusiasm. It will help move you to begin.
5. AVOID DISTRACTIONS AND MULTITASKING
Stopping and restarting an activity constantly can require 5 times the amount of energy. You get disoriented because you were interrupted, you have to readjust, you have to re-orient, and you have to prepare to begin again.
If you can, avoid any distractions that results in this kind of start-stop behavior. Stay focused.
Studies have shown multitasking to be unproductive, even for the most adept tech-savvy teen. You can accomplish more by avoiding multitasking and focusing.
6. AVOID SEMI-PRODUCTIVE ACTIVITIES. THEY’RE THE WORST DISTRACTIONS
Your worst distractions and evils to your time management are not the things that are clearly unproductive. Those definitely play a part. But the biggest evil is usually the things that are somewhat productive.
These are usually things that are not important but made to look urgent. Examples include answering emails, people asking you for help in person, or listening to self-help when you should be working.
As you can see, the last one is an example of the most dangerous. It’s things that you can rationalize away as “productive enough” to avoid your most important task.
Outsource tasks to people who can do it better than you so you can focus on what you do best. It’s one of the best ways to leverage your time and energy.
If you run a business, this is essential to succeeding and scaling.
According to the book Code of the Extraordinary Mind, Richard Branson said that the key to moving from a 7 figure business to a billion dollar business is hiring the best people to do things better than you can and trusting them with it.
Brian Tracy recommends the rule of 70%: if they can do the job at least 70% as good as you, give them the responsibility.
I recommend finding someone who can do the job even better than you if possible.
This guide is meant to be a comprehensive how-to based on my own experiences overcoming procrastination and productivity hurtles. The most useful guide post for me has been to tackle the number one most important long-term task first. Please feel free to share your tips for productivity in the comments!