There is no secret to productivity. Everything you need to know about how to be more productive can be summed up in a single sentence: Do what is most important first and to completion. There is nothing else you need to know because that covers all the terrain. Why then, is productivity so elusive?
If you do not know what your priority is, being productive can seem impossible. For most of us, we have too many competing priorities. If you have not clarified your values and decided what is most important, looking at all your roles, your projects, and your tasks will only cause you to feel overwhelmed. The word priority is singular. The word priorities is plural. Unless you have a hierarchy that determines what comes first and why, real productivity will elude you (more likely it will be scattered and busy, neither of which lead to productivity).
After you know your priorities, you need a few other things to be productive. First, you need the discipline to eliminate distractions. I know something about you without knowing you. Your smartphone is less than 48 inches away from you now, if it’s that far. The little dings, chimes, and beeps that notify you that a text, email, or some new video has been released chip away at your attention. Worse still, you have your email with you every minute of the day as if it were the most important thing on earth (which I can assure you it is not).
There is another type of discipline necessary to be truly productive. That discipline is your capacity for work. The greater your ability to devote your time and energy to what is your highest priority, the greater your results will be. You can develop the capacity to work by focusing on the discipline of 90-minute blocks. Blocking 90 minutes of time for your most important outcomes will provide you with around 75 minutes more time than most of the people you know, who will shift their focus to some distraction in 15 minutes or so.
If you can develop the capacity to string together three blocks of 90 minutes over the course of a day the outcomes you produce will be far greater than almost anyone you know. If you can do the work of determining what your priorities are and rank them, you can decide where to invest those 90-minute blocks.
What is your number one priority and how much time are you dedicating to producing that outcome?
What distractions do you need to eliminate to be able to do focused, disciplined work that produces that outcome?
Right now, go to your calendar and block 90 minutes tomorrow. If you complete that 90-minute block without interruption, send me an email and let me know how it felt and how much you got done.
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Filed under: Excellence