The Difference between Real Progress and Telling a Story
When you work, you want to work with focus, right? I doubt you sit down every morning and say to yourself, “Let’s see where my day takes me.” This approach won’t get staggering results. It’s reactive and wishful. It’s what I call action fiction , where you’re busy, but not as productive as you could be. You’re in motion, but you’re not actively pursuing your top priorities. You’re getting things done, but perhaps not the right things at the right time.
A Microsoft Survey from 2005 revealed that most people actually use 60% or less of available time in their work day. When more than 38,000 people in 200 countries were queried about individual productivity, it showed that even though they were physically at work five days a week, they were only productively using three days .
If you want to be more effective in using your time and hitting your priorities, you need a plan. And what’s a plan? According to dictionary.com it’s “a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding or making developed in advance.” Yes, developed in advance .
I love it (not!) when I hear experts say that you should sit down every morning and write out your projects for the day to keep them “top of mind.” I can’t imagine wasting this kind of time. Not only would I not have you WRITE it all out, but those precious morning hours should be spent on taking action, not trying to remember and sort all your projects and tasks .
Having a plan, based in an electronic Task list, and using the plan and remaining engaged in the plan will help you be more proactive and less reactive , turning your day into action fact , not action fiction . And on top of that, you won’t be reinventing the wheel every… single… morning. No way.
So do you have a plan for where you want to go? Are you using your plan? Are you focused on your priorities?
Think about all of the great, skilled and successful athletes and Olympians out there who achieve their best results with extreme focus. They’re locked in on their goals and targets. They don’t reach greatness by being distracted or by multi-tasking. They have goals and a plan to get there… and they stick to the plan. That’s true for any other expert too: surgeons, pilots, dancers, actors, singers, etc…
And speaking of experts who need to focus, here’s one of my favorite quotes from Dan Kennedy . His “checklists” are much like my recommended Task list. I love this:
“Create and use daily checklists. You wouldn’t ever want to be on an airplane where the crew had reviewed the preflight processes by memory rather than by referring to checklists. Isn’t your day and your use of your time equally important?” –Dan Kennedy
Amen! So don’t fly through your day without a plan! (or without your electronic Task list!)
The Taskology™ Task list is best implemented by capturing all of your tasks and noting when you’ll take action on them. Having this kind of total and continuous awareness will allow you to..
- Keep your eyes open to what’s really on your plate
I think it’s just as important to be aware of your commitments and responsibilities as it is to accomplish them. If you’re not aware of some tasks, then you’re surely not able to accomplish them. And the ones you do complete may or may not have been priorities if you weren’t aware of everything. So how do you know if you’re hitting your true priorities?
- Prioritize with precision and confidence
When you build the list, in Outlook or anywhere else, keep it updated and prioritized. If you do, your priorities will automatically and continuously float to the top of the list and be top of mind. It’s ongoing awareness and decision making. And it’s priceless.
- Protect more time for your priorities
Make sure you get to the things that you care about the most by protecting time for them. These are the ones you’re excited about – the ones you really want to do or the ones that will make the biggest impact. When you get excited about working on tasks or projects, no matter how big or small, you’ll be more likely to clear away lesser tasks, delegate more, protect more quiet time and really focus. This is what creates more pro-activity in your day, where you take charge and make progress on the most meaningful tasks and projects that bring you one step closer to your goals.
Are you ready to shift gears from being reactive to pro-active? Get a NO-cost, 20-minute strategy session with Leslie just by filling out this quick Application . Then you can free yourself of the stress of a chaotic work day filled with clutter and confusion and replace those with clarity, control and confidence. Complete the Application and make way for a more productive day.
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Leslie Shreve, founder of Productive Day and creator of Taskology™ The Science of Getting Things Done , publishes Productive Day® Insider to help business owners, executives and highly motivated professionals get more clarity and control in their work day so they can get back to what they really want to do. If you’re ready to be in the driver’s seat of your work day and leave your frustrations behind, subscribe now to get your complimentary subscription to Productive Day® Insider.Then get ready to enjoy more time, freedom, focus and success. Get started today .