How to Be Productive, Never Busy

Action expresses priorities.

– Mahantma Gandhi

Be productive – Never Busy.

You always have time for things you put first. Time is the great equalizer. We all have the same amount of it each day. It is how we use it.

Getting the most out of our time spent requires some organization and productivity. To be truly productive we need a habit, a system that we use daily that fits into our values, goals, and priorities.

Everyone has their favorite productivity system. There are lots to choose from. So choose away. I’m not going to list all the ones out there – there are too many and each has it’s own philosophy that makes it intellectually interesting. Instead I’m going to share what you should be looking for in a system, the best mindset and how to make use of whatever system you choose.

Here are some things to consider when selecting a productivity system.

#1 – Prioritization shouldn’t be complicated. Stay away from systems that can’t be done in 5-10 minutes each day.

#2 – Know your values. Know your goals. And you’ll have an easy time knowing your priorities. If you don’t do this, then you’ll never be able to make #3 work and you’ll be working hard and getting no where.

#3 – Daily task list should be no more than 3-5 items and be more priority based than task based. Three of those should be “best work” items. After you’ve checked off everything from the day’s list, will you have done your best work? If the answer is yes, then you have found the sweet spot for prioritization.

It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at essentials.

– Bruce Lee

To accomplish the right things that lead you to success it’s good to keep somethings in mind.

If you are able to Eat the Frog, or do the hardest thing or what you’ve been dreading or putting off the most at the beginning of your day – the rest of your day will be all downhill from there. 

Procrastination mounts up the pressure as tasks are looming over our head. The longer we wait the more power they take on, the larger, slimier, wartier, that frog becomes until it is a monster waiting to devour us.

Task List Seduction for some of us entices us into it’s charming lair. The lists get longer and longer. We add more and more to it. It feels good to get those things down on paper rather than in our heads waiting to stab us awake in the middle of the night. Always adding to the list and reshuffling the most important. 

It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are.

– Roy E Disney

We work through complicated systems with letters, numbers, and formulas to find the most efficient way to tackle the immense list that has taken on a life of its own. We know if we find the right system, we can tame the beast and we will find efficiency nirvana.

Except we start to lose sight of the important and the urgent begins to take over. The longer the list and the more of a love affair we have with the list, the more we only get to the things that have to get done today because of a deadline guillotine.

Fight the seduction and keep those lists to those 3-5 items that are mostly priority based. Do, Just do anything that takes 2 minutes or less. Poof it is gone. No list, no prioritizing it, no thinking and stressing about it or forgetting. Just do it. 

And use the SMART goals. If you can’t set a realistic, achievable and measurable goal that can be clearly articulated then you are working on the wrong things. It is that simple. 

Stop chasing perfectionism. The perfect system. The perfect day. The struggle for perfection robs you of time. The effort it takes to move something from 95% to 100% is more than the energy it took to get it from 0-80%. That is a lot of wasted energy for something that won’t net that much more.

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.

– Stephen Covey

5 Platinum Rules of Prioritization and Organization to set you free

  • Value your time. You don’t waste what you value. Get the most out of the moments you spend. 
  • Schedule but don’t overschedule. Lots of little things that still needs to get done will eat up time. Don’t over commit and schedule every minute of your time. Work ahead of Schedule – set deadlines ahead of when it needs to be done. Treat this deadline seriously. Leave room for the unexpected.
  • Unclutter your life – Remove what doesn’t add to your life. Everything has it’s place. Before you add, subtract, and always know exactly where anything will go before you bring it home. 
  • Keep Track – write it down. Notes, planner, post-its. You can’t organize if you don’t write it down. Record those commitments.
  • Do – You can’t just keep adding to your to-do list. The key to all of this organizing and efficiency is to take action. Knock out the most important priorities and celebrate those wins, especially the small ones. 

Above all keep it simple. Say no to anything that doesn’t fit your priorities and values. And keep hacking away. Time is relentless and so you must be with your management of your time.

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.

– Paul J. Meyer

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