I’m always on the lookout for ways to get more done on a daily basis. I love studying and implementing the most efficient and effective ways to be more productive each day personally and professionally.
Improving my daily productivity frees up more time during the week, month, and year so that I (and you, too) can spend more time with family and friends, have more fun, and work on projects that help me get to my big freakin’ dream of becoming an adventure travel host on a major TV network.
I’m able to accomplish quite a bit because I’ve learned how to efficiently and effectively implement the following 7 techniques to get more done each day:
1. Plan The Top 3 – Each and every Sunday night I plan the top three most critical tasks that have to be accomplished for the week. While determining the three most critical tasks I ask myself, “When the entire proverbial platform is burning, what is most important?” Asking this question allows me to really focus on the absolute most important tasks for the entire week. I then ask the same question for each individual day of the week, making sure that the tasks for that particular day get me closer to accomplishing the week’s three most important goals. I use a free online program called Trello that helps me keep these organized. Here’s a screenshot of this week’s (week of 12/8/13) critical goals and Monday’s (12/9/13) critical tasks.
2. Time Block – After listing the most critical tasks for the week I’ll take a look at each day on my calendar and “block time” for each mini-task required to complete them week’s critical tasks. It’s imperative that I spend time at the end of each day making sure tomorrow’s day is scheduled…in fact, I block off time to time-block. I always do this the night before so that I’m not wasting time first thing in the morning trying to figure out what I’m going to do for the day. I also schedule in fun and relaxation, like date night with the Mrs. on Tuesday night.
3. Swallow The Frog – I’ll be honest, there are plenty of times when I just want to push off doing something. It’s usually the tasks that require lots of effort to complete, or something that’s just not fun. But we must “swallow that frog” and get it over with…and we’ll be happier for it. There’s always a tendency to schedule the daunting or unpleasant tasks for later in the day because we want to complete the easier things first to help us feel good about the day. Truth be told, though, when the big tasks creep up at the end of the day and they’re not completed, or not completed to the level of quality we know they could be, we actually feel less productive and worse about the day. Get these big items out of the way first. Swallow the frog!
“If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.”
This is another way of saying that if you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest, and most important task first.”
― Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
4. Schedule In Breaks – This is quite possibly the most important thing I do to preserve my sanity. I have a tendency to just go, go, go and I’ll lose track of time and then run out of steam. Scheduling in breaks allows me to focus, work harder, and keep my flow going because I know that in a short period of time I have a chance to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. The key is making sure this time is blocked on the calendar. See the screen shot of my calendar above.
5. Exercise, Eat Right, and Drink Water – If you want to get more done, then daily exercise, healthy eating, and drinking lots of water is the fuel that will keep your body going as you increase your productivity. In the past, I neglected exercise, ate like crap, and drank more sugary drinks and sodas than anyone should. Not only did that make me 20 pounds heavier than I should have been, but I was lethargic, lacked mental clarity, and just felt like shit all the time. I’ve since made it a habit to exercise daily whether that’s a quick run, a 45 minute walk and 15 minutes of stretching, or by going surfing for an hour. I also learned how to eat healthier and I drink a TON of water. The combination of these three things helped me lose 20 pounds, become more creative and resourceful, and ultimately more energized and focused to help me get more done each day and week.
6. Eliminate Distractions – The reason most of us procrastinate is because we’re constantly bombarded with an opportunity to be distracted. Our browsers have tabs open to sites like Facebook, ESPN, and TMZ and our phones are constantly beeping with text messages, CNN updates, and email notifications. I have allowed these distractions to get in the way in the past, and they still occasionally do now, but I’ve taken steps to eliminate these distractions. All of these distractions significantly reduce one’s ability to focus and get in a flow that will allow us to finish the week’s three most critical tasks. Use programs like Freedom and LeechBlock to restrict your time on time-sucking websites and make it a habit to put your phone on silent while completing your most important tasks.
7. Check Email Last – When it comes to time-sucking distractions, email takes the cake. In my humble opinion, email, more than anything else, makes everyone significantly less productive and is the reason why people are seemingly over-worked and stressed out. And it’s all because email prevents people from getting things done. If you want to get more done, and get it done well within the time-frame of a standard work-week, save email for the last part of your day. I learned a few years ago that email is just a constant barrage of mostly unimportant communication, communication that could usually be pushed off to the end of the day. I made it a habit to NOT check my email first thing in the morning. Instead, as number 3 suggests, I swallow the frog first and work towards accomplishing my more critical tasks before checking email. Check email last and get more done first.
Turn the 7 techniques above into habits and you’ll find that you’re more productive, less stressed, and completing your crucial tasks well within the time-frame of a standard work week. You’ll spend more time with friends and family, have more fun, and actually have the time to work on projects that are going to help you reach your big freakin’ dream.
I’d love to add a few new productivity skills to my repertoire. What else do you do to be more productive during the day?
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