Too Much to Do: Four Strategies for Guaranteed Productivity

In my recent teleclass, Kelly expressed her goal succinctly: “I want to spin less and get more done.” Can you relate?

Journalist Charles Duhigg is an expert on productivity. In his latest book, Smarter Better Faster, he concludes that the most productive people have trained themselves to be productive, and most importantly, experimenting is part of the process. By trial and error, we build habits and contemplative routines that yield increased productivity.

The same tools don’t work for everyone, so don’t be frustrated if you’ve tried and failed some techniques: The winning technique for you is still out there — waiting for you to give it a try.

Here are four ideas to inspire your experiments:

1. Set a Stretch Goal

Take a few minutes to reflect on what is most important to you and WHY it’s important. The key to being productive is motivation. Understanding your “why” will help you stay focused and overcome obstacles.

For example, while having a clean house may be the goal, it’s not the motivation. The motivation might be “I am happier when I can find things easily,” or “my allergies do better when it’s not dusty,” or “I love having guests, and I don’t do that when it’s messy.” Once your motivational goal is clear, then make your TO-DO list, outlining the tasks that will get you there.

2. Keep a Not-Doing-Now List

Your Not-Doing-Now list is a parking lot. When your mind strays or another task tempts you, put it on your list and return focus to the task you’re committed to. Don’t multitask: ask “is this intrusion helping with my current task or not?” If the answer is “no,” park it.

3. Do the Hardest Thing First

It’s typical to tackle the simplest item on list. We get to check something off quickly and enjoy a feeling of moving forward. It makes us feel productive – but it only keeps us spinning. However, when you nail the hardest thing first, it frees you up.

My clients who’ve tested this one consistently say they feel so much better not having that big task hanging over their head all day long. It gives a sense of freedom, creating more energy and space to get more things done, and the rest of the day goes a lot smoother and easier.

4. Make a Daily Top-Three Commitment List

Review your master to-do list and pick three things that you are absolutely, 100% committed to completing today. Don’t take on another until all three are completed. This strategy helps me say “no” (at least not now.) When something else tries to sneak on to my schedule, I know what my priorities are.

Experiment TODAY!

Duhigg says one thing productive people have in common is a willingness to experiment.

I challenge you to choose one of these strategies, and commit to it for a day, or seven, or 30. Keep experimenting and be willing to train yourself into new habits.

What’s your first experiment?

Mary