Does your list go out the window as soon as the first “emergency” presents itself at home or work? Are you disappointed at the end of the day and wonder what you accomplished because your list looks the same as it did this morning? Do you equate being productive with how many things you cross off your list? Do you look for quick, low priority things to do so you can cross a few more things off? Do you avoid your harder or longer-term tasks? We all procrastinate. Our brains focus on the here and now, what is in front of us. Harvard Business Review’s How to Beat Procrastination explains that we have a present bias because it is easier for our brains to process the concrete, short-term effort aspects of our lives rather than the abstract, long-term uncertain parts of our lives. Keep procrastination at bay and be intentional using the Producktivity® Principles: Identify. Connect. Organize.
Step 1: Identify
For over four (4) months, I have been using a concept I read about in Chris Bailey’s Productivity Project. I set 3 personal and 3 professional goals each day that center around my values and top priorities. At first it felt like a lot of time and thought to set daily goals rather than just working from my task management software. I quickly realized the value of setting 3 daily goals. It helped me re-focus when I got overwhelmed in the middle of the day. It also helped me to resist doing lower-priority maintenance tasks like filing or emails just so I could check something off my list.
To get started with setting your daily goals, identify all the tasks you plan to accomplish for the day. If you already use a paper or electronic task list, review it and determine if there are any other tasks you do each day but have not captured on your list. If you do not currently maintain a task list, take 10 minutes and capture all of the things you would like to complete for the day.
Step 2: Connect
Since we all procrastinate, you need to be purposeful about what you choose to procrastinate, or stop doing all together. What are the low priority tasks that don’t support your values and priorities? Create a not-to-do list, BSC Tip & Technique #8 for your self-care, and get some items permanently off your to-do list. Now you can reflect on the remaining items and apply the 80/20 rule to help you focus on the 20% of your tasks that will contribute to 80% of your productivity. Reflect on your overarching goals and remember that you determine what it means to be productive each day. Being productive is accomplishing what you set out to do, not crossing as many tasks off your list as possible.
Step 3: Organize
Write it down – Once you have selected your 3 goals for the day, write them down on a piece of paper. This supports you with articulating your priorities for the day, taking ownership by writing your goals in your handwriting, and allows you to have your goals visible all day. When other things try to capture your attention and energy or you feel overwhelmed, look at your goals. If it doesn’t support your goals for the day, capture it and either add it to your to-do list for the future or your not-to-do list, because you have decided not to take it on.
Timing – I initially tried setting my daily goals each morning, but found that it was more valuable to determine my goals the night before. It helped me avoid jumping into my day before making my list and allowed me to reflect on and get excited about what I planned to achieve the next day for the remainder of the evening. Determine when the most valuable time is for you to set your daily goals, and set an alarm to remind you each day so it becomes part of your routine.
Eat That Frog – You have 3 goals to accomplish that are all a high priority for you. Which one do you work on first? Apply Brian Tracy’s method, which is to focus on your most important goal first, and Eat That Frog. Also, consider your daily energy pattern. If your peak energy level is in the late morning, that is the time to set aside to focus on your daily goals each day.
Using the Producktivity® Principles allows you to stay focused in the face of feeling overwhelmed. It is a tool to help you be intentional about your definition of productivity, procrastinate lower-priority tasks, and accomplish your daily goals.
What is one daily goal you are going to move action today? What are you going to choose to procrastinate and add to your not-to-do list? Share your thoughts and experiences, join the conversation below.
Producktivity® is a unique, interactive personal and professional organizational tool that assists individuals and organizations with improving their decision making and time management skills.