How to Increase Your Productivity

When I sit down to write an article, or as I’m planning an upcoming mastermind call, the topics usually come to me because of conversations I’ve had throughout that week.

On our mastermind call yesterday, one of the things we discussed was how to keep focused and work efficiently towards your goals. I received a comment from someone that said they work much more efficiently and are better at getting things done as deadlines approach. This comment reminded me of a post I had written back in April of 2013. Today, I want to share that information again.

The following is portions of my post from April 18, 2013:

Last night, my daughter, Tia, finished practicing piano and was sitting at the table looking very stressed. My wife, Tamara, asked her what was stressing her out. From there the floodgates opened up and out came all of the things she had to get done in the next few days with some tight deadlines: French test, write a paper abut her experience in Africa, create a video to use at the piano recital, prepare her presentation for the Rotary Club, basketball practice, and…

That was when Tamara stepped in. She told Tia to make a list of all the things she needed to get done and the deadline for each one. She also needed to figure out which ones she could have help on and who could help her.

This made me think about Zig Ziglar and his “Day Before Vacation” teachings, which he asks:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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 it’s 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 completing those tasks?

The day before we leave on a vacation, Tamara 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 we have deadlines and we need to focus to get those things done.

This is what Tia will 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 ensure 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 task 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 this 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 aint gonna get no purtier! As a matter of fact, 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 or a presentation, won’t it work just as well every day?

A big part of this is in your planning. When you plan and track 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 made her list and prioritized it. When Tamara told her to pause and to make a list to prioritize, it relieved a lot of the stress in the situation.

Plan your time efficiently, and act upon your plans so that you don’t spend your time reacting to what is happening to you.

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Your Not-To-Do-List

At the end of every day I take a look at my list of things I needed to accomplish during the day. If there are any items that couldn’t be completed for some reason, I deal with them. It might be rescheduling them, delegating them or deleting them all together. I then review my list for the following day, which are items I had already scheduled along with new items that surfaced in the mean time. 

The next morning, when I sit down at my desk, the first thing that I’ll do is review this list again.

In the past I’ve had days that this list seems to grow bigger and bigger, regardless of how much I check off of it each day. I’ve found myself feeling great as I’m checking off item after item, feeling like I’m being producing and getting things done. But then I’d get to the end of the day and realize there are still a lot of important items that I haven’t even looked at yet. How can this be? I’ve been working and knocking things off like crazy.

Often, this problem arises not because of the number of items on my to-do-list, but because of what the items are and which ones shouldn’t even be on my list in the first place. 

One of the best exercises you can do to increase your productivity is to create your Not-To-Do-List!

Think about this, there are things you do every day that move the needle the most for you and/or your company. Maybe it’s sales, maybe it’s marketing, maybe it’s coaching your team. It’s whatever you do that creates the biggest results/revenue. These needle movers are the things you should be spending your time on. 

Now look at all the things you do on a daily basis that are not creating these results. That are not the needle movers. If you are putting off the needle-mover items to work on these other things, you need to stop. Stop Now! These are not the things that need your focus and that you need to be spending your time on. 

It’s hard to make changes that free up big blocks of time in our days. We have smaller moments that we need to utilize and take the best advantage of. You need to create your Not-To-Do-List to free up these moments so that you can focus on the needle-movers in your life. 

Let’s do this right now! Don’t put it off, grab a pen and paper and lets get started…

What things do you spend your time on that don’t serve growth, a greater income, empowerment, your God, your family or a bigger future?

  1. Make a list of the non-needle-mover activities that you spend your time on.
  2. For each item mark it as:
    1. Automate,
    2. Delegate, or
    3. Eliminate

Now that you’ve made this list, follow through. Maybe it’s your monthly bills that you can get online and automate the payments. Maybe it’s a daily task that you’ve felt it was just easier if you took care of it yourself. Delegate it! Maybe it’s something that just really doesn’t matter. Eliminate it!

When you clear the clutter from your to-do-list, you clear your mind. Your stress level decreases and your creativity increases. 

As important as a To-Do-List can be, even more important is your Not-To-Do List! 

*Add this exercise to the top of your To-Do-List right now! Actually do it and get it done!

By joining one of our Mastermind Groups, you’ll put into practice more life hacks like this that will help you to become more productive. You would be a part of an elite group of goal-orientated people who want to help each other succeed and get to the next level in life and in business.

If your life and/or your business are not where you thought they would be at this point in your life, hurry over to our Mastermind page and fill out the form. That will allow us to contact you to give you more information and to see if you qualify to be in one of our elite Mastermind Group!

Day Before Vacation Productivity

Last week I was talking to someone about work and an upcoming vacation he had planned. He expressed to me how productive his week had been because he knew what he had to accomplish before he could leave on vacation. It made me think of a post I had written back in 2013. After reading it again this morning I thought I would post it again. It was a copy of an email that I had sent out to my team:

Screen-Shot-2014-05-19-at-7.10.35-AM

 

Team,

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:
  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
For more great stuff from Zig Ziglar find one of his books here on: Amazon.