Conquer Your Priorities, Procrastinate the Rest
Does your list go out the window as soon as the first “emergency” presents itself? Do you equate being productive with how many things are completed each day? Are you putting something off, because it requires a significant change? 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. 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. Keep procrastination at bay and be intentional using the Producktivity® Principles: Identify. Connect. Organize.
Step 1: Identify
A concept I use to minimize procrastination is in Chris Bailey’s book, Productivity Project. The process involves setting 3 personal and 3 professional goals each day that center around my values and top priorities. At first it felt like it was a lot of time and thought to set daily goals rather than just working from task management software. I quickly realized the benefits. It helped me re-focus when it felt overwhelming in the middle of the day. It also allowed me to resist doing lower-priority maintenance items like filing or emails just to check something off.
To get started, identify all the things 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 items you do each day but have not captured. If you do not currently maintain written tasks, take 10 minutes and document all of the things you would like to complete for the day.
Step 2: Connect
Since we all procrastinate, be purposeful about what you choose to delay 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 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. It is about accomplishing what you set out to do, not crossing as many things off 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 taking ownership and allows you to have them visible all day. When other things try to take your attention and energy or you feel overwhelmed, look at your goals. If it doesn’t support them, 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 and found that it was more valuable to determine them the night before. It helped me avoid jumping into my day before making my list. It also allowed me to reflect on and get excited about what I planned to achieve the next day. Determine the best time to set your daily goals and set an alarm 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 one 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 support you in being intentional about your definition of productivity, delay lower-priority tasks, and accomplish your daily goals.
What is one daily goal you are going to move to action today? What are you going to choose to 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.