We have talked a lot about productivity and time management over the past year. We have included it in our education meetings, I’ve sent our Dave Ramsey podcast and we’ve included it in our Monday morning meetings.
Last night I witnessed something that got me thinking about this again. Tia had just finished practicing piano and was sitting at the table looking very stressed. Tammy asked her what was stressing her out. From there the floodgates opened up and out came all the things she had to get done in the next few days with some tight deadlines: French test, write a paper about her experience in Africa, create a video to use at the piano recital, pepare to present in front of the Rotary Club, basketball practice and… That was when Tammy stepped in. She said she needed Tia to list out all of the things she needed to get done and the deadlines for each. She also needed to figure out which ones she could have help on and who could help her. Wow, this was starting to sound like real life Ramsey!
This got me thinking about our buddy Zig Ziglar and his “Day before vacation” teachings.
Zig asks the following questions:
- As a general rule, on the day before you go on vacation, do you get two or three times as much work done as you normally get done in a day?
- If you can learn why you are that much more productive on the day before vacation, and then repeat that process on a daily basis without working any longer or harder, does it make sense that you will be more valuable to yourself, your family, your company, and society in general?
- On the night before the day before vacation, do you take a sheet of paper and say to yourself, “Now tomorrow I’ve got to do…,” and then make a list of things you must do?… In its simplest form, that’s goal setting and it’s critical. Next, did you organize your must-do list in the order of importance and accept responsibility for competing those tasks?
The day before we leave on vacation Tammy and I both have our to-do lists. On that day both work related and non-work related things get completed efficiently. This all happens because you have a deadline and you need to focus to get things done. This is what Tia is going to experience over the next few days. Her French test, the Rotary presentation, piano recital and all the other things coming up are going to happen if she’s ready or not. So she needs to focus and prioritize to make sure she does well at all of them.
Going back to Zig and his day before vacation example, he says: “On the way to work the next day your self-talk was upbeat and centered on what you were going to get done. You arrived at work on time so you were punctual. You immediately started to work, making you a self-starter. You were highly motivated and optimistic that you were going to finish every tak you had set for yourself. You were enthusiastic about your work and decisively moved from one task to the next, making good choices as you did so, even if the next job on the list was disagreeable.”
I love his example related to unpleasant tasks. “An ol’ boy down home said it best, “Friend, if you’ve got to swallow a frog, you just don’t want to look at the sucker too long. He ain’t gonna get no purtier! As a matter of act, the longer you look, the uglier he gets.” That’s the way unpleasant tasks are.”
“As you move from task to task, if someone tried to interrupt and talk about last night’s television program or last night’s game, you disciplined yourself to stay on task and not be distracted from your job… Since there was no “tomorrow” for you on each job, you persisted until you completed each one…. and momentum built with the completion of each task…. Perhaps the most exciting part of this vacation scenario is the fact that your co-workers instinctively picked up the pace [as well].”
If this approach works so well on the day before vacation, or the days before a test, a presentation or paper is due, won’t it work just as well every day?
A big part of this is in the planning. When you plan things, the odds of their happening go up substantially. If we plan our months, weeks and days we will be more productive and balanced.
Tia spent the evening writing about her experiences in Africa. She’s made her list and has prioritized it. She’s an achiever, not only will she get everything done, she will do it all very well. But if Tammy hadn’t told her to pause, make a list and prioritize that list her stress would have stayed high and her productivity would have been low. Plan your days and act so you don’t spend them reacting.