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?


Play to Your Strengths

You can be anything you want, if you just work hard enough.

Hmmm, really? Ballet dancer, opera singer, nuclear physicist–are those pursuits really available to anyone and everyone?

Not many people buy that cultural myth anymore BUT underdog stories of triumph over adversity are still captivating. The research in the field of Strengths Psychology suggests that the real triumph comes to those who capitalize on their strengths. Instead of employing superhuman effort to correct deficiencies and overcome shortcomings, how about putting attention and energy towards making the very most of your strengths?

Why labor upstream when you can glide downstream?

Correcting weaknesses is like trying to swim upstream: The fight against the current will wear you out, and you simply can’t make good progress. Try playing to your strengths, and you’ll know you’re swimming downstream, your efforts boosted with ease by your natural gifts. There’s no stopping you!

When you play to your strengths, it’s naturally easier to accomplish more

In the workplace, statistics indicate that only 20% of folks use their strengths daily. That lucky 20% are more efficient, effective and productive. Most importantly, they’re happy. When you know and play to your strengths, life bursts with ease and satisfaction!

Cultivating strengths takes less effort and brings far greater results

We’re bombarded with a societal message to be balanced; to be well-rounded; to labor at transcending our shortcomings. Let go of that mandate and cultivate your strengths:

  • Stop agonizing over what you don’t have: Celebrate what you DO have.
  • Discover the role you were born to play and realize the ease and zest fulfilling it.
  • Don’t strive for balance–it’s an illusion anyway. Strive for fullness. Intentionally imbalance your life towards what makes you feel strong.
  • Always sweat the small stuff: Know and act on the specific details of what invigorates you.

How will you play to your strengths today?



Strengths: The Secret to a Juicy Life

Last week in the Growing Edge Teleclass, the topic that sparked learning was STRENGTHS: The Secrect to a Juicy Life. We turned the common definition of STRENGTH on its head. Just about everybody, including the dictionary, defines “strength” as something that you do well; something that can be seen and/or demonstrated.

Strengths Psychology enriches that basic definition with some important, subjective additions. Marcus Buckingham (author of GO, Put Your Strengths to Work) defines strengths as the specific activities that you consistently do well and that energize and invigorate you. To get a better, more personal sense of this definition, try this activity:
Take a moment to think about your week. Remember the variety of activities you did – professionally and personally.

Which activities made you feel…


Which ones had you saying…

That was easy!
I can’t wait to do that again!
What a rush!
WOW – that time flew by!

Once you identify some of the activities that invigorate you, TAKE A CLOSER LOOK. Explore what matters most about these activities and you will begin to discover your unique constellation of strengths! Click here to read more about how Marcus Buckingham puts these ideas to work.

NOW – Can you imagine what life would be like if EVERYDAY was filled with the activities that made you feel powerful, alive and strong?


Clarifying and playing to strengths is what we do in coaching to produce extraordinary results.
SO TELL ME – What do you do well that adds JUICE to your life?