I always feel like the blogs posts I write are timely and directly connected to something I feel I need to work on at the moment. It’s getting cold, the sun is going down early, I am feeling lethargic, I don’t feel like working out, and frankly I am eating like crap. I know lots of you are shaking your head. All of this is having a direct impact on my daily productivity and its time to change that.
Your productivity ebbs and flows with the seasons and for those of you in the mid west or north east, your motivation really suffers. It’s too cold to think let alone exercise, eat right, and stay motivated. I know, I have been there. So how are you going to start the new year off right with a new higher level of productivity and really create lasting changes?
Weather you are an employee or self employed I am betting you could use a little boost in productivity, so lets ring in the New Year with some New Habits. Before we discuss these new habits lets discuss where exactly your productivity could be lost.
Now, lets find some easy to implement habits for all of these productivity time suckers!
1. Establishing your priorities should be the first thing you start with while attempting to be more productive because to be more productive, you need to map out what is important to you. By far the best way I have ever done this is using Stephen Covey’s quadrant method. In this method you divide a piece of paper into 4 quadrants; Urgent & Important/Non Urgent & Important/Urgent & Not Important/Not Urgent & Not Important. (example below)
By looking at the example quadrant above start listing things that you do on a daily basis in these quadrants. For example, some common urgent and important (Quadrant 1) things you may be doing on a daily basis. These are usually items that need to be dealt with immediately.
Take about 30 minutes to do this so you can identify what your true priorities are and what is truly important to you. You will be shocked how often your activities fall in Quadrant 3 & 4 (social media, most emails, most meetings, etc.)
Note: Covey states that most of us spend 80% of our time in Quadrant 1 while the rest is usually spent in Quadrant 3 & 4. On the contrary Quadrant 2 is the most important says Covey. By spending most of your time in Quadrant 2, “your effectiveness would increase dramatically. Your crises and problems would shrink to manageable proportions because you would be thinking ahead, working on the roots.” SO live in Quadrant 2 limit Quadrant 1 and eliminate Quadrant 3 & 4. This is a great start!
2. Time Management: I have read dozens of books on time management. Frankly its a boring topic and some don’t even believe its necessary but I do believe there are some good habits to try that will make you more productive. Once you figure out your priorities by running through the quadrant method above its time to plan out your week in advance to include more of those Quadrant 2 activities (relationship building, planning, exercise, new opportunities, etc.)
What I do is plan out my next week on the Friday before using a day planner or electronic calendar. If you are like me, you most likely have meetings blocked off and you may also have some none important and none urgent items taking up space on your calendars. You know what they are and I don’t need to tell you. GET RID OF THEM COLD TURKEY for a month and see what happens. Especially try to trim unnecessary meetings. They are huge time suckers.
Now look at your calendar for next week and see where more Quadrant 2 activities can fit in. From here create chunks of time in which you will commit to those new activities. Don’t multi-task during these chunks of time. STAY FOCUSED ON TASK AT HAND!! This is huge!
Now I know many of you are saying to yourself, “but I don’t have time.” You and I both know that, that is a bunch of BS. You have time for the most IMPORTANT priorities in your life, you just need to change your outlook on how you manage time. Here is a great 9 minute clip where Tony Robbins explains the power of chunking time and how to get those important Quadrant 2 activities done.
Note: for an employee this maybe more difficult but if you can figure out a way to create more time for these important activities I am willing to bet you will become more effective at work and in turn will move up the ladder much faster. Trim the fat and focus on your priorities.
To conclude part 1, use the Covery Quadrant Method to find your priorities and inefficiencies in your productivity then attempt to plan your week in advance using time chunking. Focus on one thing during these time chunks and don’t multi-task. Remember to wedge those all important Quadrant 2 activities in your calendar. These fulfilling activities will make you more effective and more efficient. See you next week with part 2.
Stephen Covey’s Quadrant Method
Tony Robbins video on Time Chunking