You don’t have a productivity problem, you have a priority problem.
Productivity is Overrated
You’re working 80 hours a week, not getting enough sleep, always on the go, got more to do, and feeling behind. Anytime people ask you how you are doing you say “busy”. You’re no fun to talk to anymore.
Is there really not enough time?
Maybe you just aren’t working hard enough?
Do you need more ways to be productive?
Perhaps you could check emails while you cook, read while you drive or exercise during client calls?
OR JUST STOP!
Stop with the productivity. Stop filling every moment of downtime with more work. Stop filling your life with so much crap and put FIRST things FIRST.
Jim Rally explains in “Stop trying to be more productive” that we are actually more productive now than ever, our bigger problem is learning the pick a priority and then chill the F out.
“Busyness is not a reason for not getting other things done. It is an excuse for not claiming your true priorities.”
There’s a million tips and hacks teaching you to get more done in less time. This article will not be one of them.
It doesn’t matter how fast you get 40 things done if they’re the wrong 40 things.
I don’t care how high you climb that ladder, you’re still screwed if it’s the wrong building.
The unspoken consequence of productivity
The problem with productivity is that it ignores the fact that you don’t need to to do all this sh*t in the first place.
What happens after you’ve become more productive?
So you produce more, then what?
You get caught in the trap.
The more time you find, the more you fill it with stuff. Eventually, you’re trying to find how to cram more of this into less time.
It’s a never ending cycle.
You’re still “go, go, go”, there’s still not enough time and you are still no fun to talk to. It’s just hand delivered stress that leads right to a grave with the most pathetic epitaph: “He Was Busy”.
The point of your productivity was to have more life, not cram in more work.
“Remember, the goal of being productive is to leave time for yourself and the things you want to do, not just giving you ways to free up time to take on more work. That may be the side-effect, especially at the office, but being able to draw a strong line between projects, between tasks, and between your work and your life will give you the freedom to enjoy more of your personal time when you don’t have to do anything at all.”
Find happiness, Prioritize.
“Nobody get’s everything in this life. You decide your priorities and you make your choices. I’d decided long ago that any cake I had would be eaten”
We don’t need to get it all done. What we need is clarity. A grander vision of our future self-who do you want to be?. We need an understanding of our core values. To be clear on personal and professional goals.
When we know these things, our priorities can be chosen quickly and easily.
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities
Is it a priority?
Priority: something that is more important than other things and needs to be done or dealt with first
Ask yourself: What are my goals?
Don’t underestimate the value of both your personal and professional goals. What do you want your life to look like? What do you want to achieve? Make these things real by writing them down and then commit to them. When you know where to aim, you also know when you’re off the mark.
Then ask: Does it make the boat go faster?
Now that you know your goals you can measure each task to it’s ability to meet your goal.
As Olympic Gold Medalist, Ben Hunt Davis explains in this 4 minute video, his team wanted to win and they only needed to measure the value of their tasks by one single goal “will it make the boat go faster?”
Wanna go out tonight? Will it make the boat go faster?
Wanna work out for another 3 hours? Will it make the boat go faster?
Wanna eat a Snickers Bar? Will it make the boat go faster?
If you are committed to your goals, then it’s easy to find the value (or lack thereof) in each of the items on your “to do” list.
Urgent Vs. Important
Important: Activities that have an outcome that leads us to achieving our goals, whether professional or personal.
Urgent: Activities that demand immediate attentions, usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals.
Too often we are using our precious time on urgent non-important items. Often these are things we can delegate or can wait. For example, your phone may ring -urgently requesting you to answer it- but it too can wait until you’re done working on what’s important. Worse yet, is when we waste time with the non-important-non-urgent items. (Instagram notifications, anyone?)
We need to use time effectively, not just efficiently.
If you get stuck, use Eisenhower’s urgent/Important Principle to figure out where your tasks fall.
The most important thing in life is knowing the most important things in life
The easy way to meet priorities every day
Let’s put all this talk into practice. You are always going to feel better meeting priorities than increasing your work output. Productivity is a trap, but time effectiveness leaves us accomplished. Focusing on what matters not only ensures we are getting the most important and urgent things done, it also gives us peace of mind and a sense of completion. We can be fun to talk to again because we are actually getting sh*t done with all our busyness.
Use The Three Wins Method Daily
“If you have more than 3 priorities, you have none”-Jim Collins
I learned this simple method from Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach. It’s easy and powerful. You will see an immediate difference in how you schedule and work throughout your day.
But if you want to experience it’s magic, you need to commit to it. You need to write it down, you need to use it as a daily practice. As Jim Rohn says “What’s easy to do, is just as easy not to do”. So set an alarm, write a reminder or whatever it takes to do this 2 minute exercise each day.
Here it is.
Step 1: My Three Wins Today
At the end of each day write down your three wins for the day. Regardless of what happened today, you had three wins. Find the good and write it down. Allow yourself to acknowledge your achievements.
Step 2: My Three Wins for Tomorrow
Now choose what your three wins will be tomorrow. It doesn’t matter how much is on your agenda, choose the three things that will feel best when they are accomplished tomorrow.
This has two benefits: You easily choose your priorities for the day and you to wake up knowing what your focus is. Plus, if you’re an overachieving type A personality like me then you’re damn well going to make sure your 3 goals meet what you wrote on that sheet because you have to win. This means you will bypass distractions with ease.
This practice allows you to measure yourself by your achievements rather than the ideals you’ve set. You will find that you are always winning (yay!) and begin to embody that mindset.
This shift will have a domino effect on all that you accomplish. You will no longer be focusing on all the “stuff” that’s left on your list. Instead you’ll see exactly where you are successful and choose your triumphs for the next day. Do this, and in one week you will have 21 wins-how rad is that?
As Dan Sullivan explains, the biggest power gain from this is learning that it’s YOUR saying so that actually gives meaning to your past and to your future.
Today you have the power to say “It was a great day and tomorrow will be a great day”
If Ice Cube can claim it, so can you.
You’re the the author of your story. Make sure it’s a good one.
Ready to try it?
Use this worksheet and practice it today!