We all struggle with the burden of a huge task load. And sometimes we get busy as a means of avoidance for the more arduous but important tasks we should be accomplishing, so we live in the illusion of accomplishment when we really are working around the edges as opposed to on the critical core issues and activities. So lets focus on some approaches to get the important things done.
- Index Card. When you walk into the office, look at your calendar and take one minute to look at your day and the next five business days. What are the three most important tasks that you need to do TODAY to move you towards your goals? Write them on the card. Now focus on doing these first. As you knock them off, cross them off the list. When all are done, throw the card into the garbage and celebrate for a minute as you have had a productive day. Now you can tackle the not as important tasks knowing that you have advanced your cause.
- 1 Thing. Remember “City Slickers”, where Curly (Jack Palance) told Billy Crystal what was most important by holding up a single finger? Then Billy Crystal had to determine what it was for himself. Choose that 1 Thing that you need to accomplish every day, no matter what. This is NOT on your Index Card, because the 1Thing is so critical to your success that it is assumed you don’t need to think about it and will do it. Is it scheduling three new appointments? Getting four Introductions? Cold emailing 500 people? What is the One Thing you HAVE to do each and every day that is the driver of success? Know what this is and do it every morning.
- Mix It Up. To avoid becoming stagnant mentally (which leads to a decline in productivity), Mix It Up. Sit in the conference room to call people instead of your office every once in a while. Put on a playlist that you wouldn’t normally listen to to change your audial inputs (I typically play Jimmy Buffet when it gets below zero for this reason). Stand instead of sitting in a meeting. Face your chair in a different direction. Do something each day that is a routine breaker to force you into being more attentive or creative.
These are not multimillion dollar investments nor time consuming but they will give you disproportional returns on your output. They are also easy to try for a week and see what makes sense for you. Being effective instead of ineffectively active will make you productive as well as less stressed. And that makes our burdens lighter.