How does that resonate with you? This post was inspired whilst reading David Allens’s most recent Productive Living newsletter.
There are only two problems in life
You know what you want and you don’t know how to get it; or you don’t know what you want.” This proposes only two solutions: (1) focus, then (2) organize and allocate your resources. Intend and execute. Create and complete. Make it up, and make it happen.
Most techniques & tools circulating today do indeed focus on the reactive side. The question here is how effective are you at sitting down & objectively reviewing what it is “about life” that you’re not enjoying.. or fully content with?
Feeling overwhelmed by the mountain of e-mails you think you have to address? Block 2 x 30 minutes in your daily calendar, find an isolated spot where you can focus (put headphones on in worst case) and scan them very quickly.. who are they from.. how urgent is the subject matter? Mark those & put them to one side. Put the rest in a “to purge folder”.. and if no one asks you about them or follows up to get a response within 1-2 weeks, trash them for good. That’s one way to quickly clean your slate of all of the “to-read” & “FYI” that you’ll never get around to anyway. That was your first 30 minute block.
Organize and allocate your resources
With your 2nd 30 minute block, go back to the e-mails you’ve marked & set aside to action. Be honest with yourself and pick the 5 most important and action them NOW. Leave the rest for an end-of-morning or end-of-day exercise. When you finally get to them, you have only two choices; (1) action them immediately or (2) assign them to your calendar (block out time) to action them within the next 48h. Remember, you marked these as relevant, so anything past 48h I would have to question your focus, sense of urgency or true relevance of the e-mail content.
Intend, execute and complete
What you’ve just done, the framework (logic) behind it, is relevant to any aspect of your overwhelming life. Be it work or play, determine what is absolutely important for your well-being and execute with intent and extreme prejudice to complete. Notice that I used the word “important” and not “urgent”, there is a slight difference between the two, which is actually a-mile-wide in results.
When you’re not working on “the important”, you’re not being productive at the highest rate!
You’ve most likely missed the whole picture if you think being more productive is simply about getting more organized, or setting priorities or goals, or working harder. If you’re not executing with an extreme prejudice to complete, then you’re not being productive.
Your most productive state
The most productive people I know are inspired and turned-on by what they’re doing. They’re automatically juiced to quickly put into motion the activities that will drive their success. Become more outcome focus and engage the actions you feel necessary to reach those outcomes. Visualize success, set an intention to action, quantify the measure to take, the resources required & then qualify that you’ve executed. If you have challenges holding yourself accountable, find someone that will.
Go to the balcony
Think of it as an out-of-body experience! Get into the regular habit of stopping your workday a few minutes early & reflect on the success of your day.. the success of your week. What worked well? Plan to do more of it! What didn’t work so well? Plan to alter or affect those activities.. maybe stop doing them all-together. Were you really the best person to do them anyway? How should the work be done better?
Balance your focus of “knowing what you want” and or “knowing how to get it”, giving the right relevance & weight to both. Question yourself on a regular basis & you’ll find yourself getting to the best answers quicker.
What’s your next step? What are you going to change today that’s going to have a significant affect on your week ahead?