You Can Be More Productive

Written by Machen MacDonald

Are you caught in the busy trap? Do you wonder, at the end of the day, what you actually got accomplished? You know you were mega busy and worked harder than those around you. You may have even checked off a couple of items from your to-do list; even the ones you wrote down after you completed the task. Those count too. However, you can be more productive.

If you are like most people, you may have either forgotten that voicemail, email, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are tools for your convenience and efficiency, not the other way around. These tools may have crept into your life without you even being aware of how to really leverage them for your productivity and efficiency. Each of these is a tool in the physical environment within which you work or operate. The trick is to learn how to set up your physical environment, as well as the tools, to serve you better so you can be more productive.

You want to learn how to respond to the alerts and information contained in the tools rather than simply reacting to them.

I use the following formula:

Set Intentions – Pay Attention – Feel Less Tension

First, create a daily “Ta-Da” list in addition to your ongoing To-Do list (set your intentions). Become very clear on what your goals or key objectives are for the day. Determine what 3-6 action items you want to make sure you get accomplished by the end of the day in order to feel more productive. These are usually tied to a larger goal, project, or mission. Get clear on what you can affect today toward the achievement of the bigger objective. Visualize what your experience will be like at the end of the day having accomplished those action items successfully.

Second – create a “Not-To-Do” list (pay attention). It is just as important to recognize what the distractions or obstacles to achieving those action items will look like when they show up. They are usually cleverly disguised as emergencies or ultra-urgent items. Here is a news flash – they come in the form of emails, voicemails, and flawed or outdated to-do lists.

Essentially, a distraction or obstacle is any interruption to your workflow that doesn’t help you be more productive. Typically, these interruptions can easily be avoided with some prior planning. Take a few minutes each morning to identify what potential distractions you may experience before they come hurling at you. This will enable you to be able to limit, eliminate or at least recognize the distractions when they show up and not experience such an emotional charge around them. You’ll see them as distractions, step aside and let them go by you versus making the mistake of trying to square up and tackle it on the spot. This will free up the bandwidth for you to stay focused on what must be done so that you can be more productive.

Third – notice your wins (feel less tension). Somewhere between diapers and getting our business cards printed, we forgot the art of celebrating our wins. We became too cool for school and conditioned ourselves to notice all the stuff we don’t do well or could have done better instead of all the stuff we are doing well.

I am here to challenge you to start noticing, and yes, even celebrating your wins throughout your day. You will feel better about yourself and what you are doing. When you feel better, you act better and, when you act better, you get better results. It’s an upward spiral. The better it gets, the better it gets. This is experiencing less tension. Imagine what you could actually accomplish if you experienced no stress. It’s a lot better than the downward spiral most people operate within that winds them so tight they eventually snap or blow a tube. So, to start with, just notice then when you are ready to celebrate.

Make it up, make it fun, and make it happen!

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