My 5 Guidelines For A Productive Day
The most important part of the day is the morning. How you function in those first couple of hours sets the tone for the entire day. If you’re trying to be productive this is doubly important. Jumping out of bed, throwing on your suit and rushing out of the door with a slice of toast between your teeth isn’t going to set the best tone for your day. What I do instead is take five minutes to recap and apply my five favorite guidelines. What are your own guidelines for a productive day?
- Do the hardest work early
It’s important to get the hardest or the least enjoyable work done early. It gets it off your radar for the rest of the day, it means you’re not going to keep putting it off and it sets a productive tone for the rest of the day. If you do your hardest work first, everything else is easy by comparison.
- Identify what really needs doing
We all have a lot of things we could do each day, but only a small percentage of that is stuff we absolutely have to do. It’s these tasks that need to take precedence as they’re the ones that are going to make the biggest difference in your life. If I’m struggling to identify what the important work is, I use the 80/20 rule.
- Plan to do only as much as your can manage
Something incomplete represents a broken promise, which is why it’s very important that I complete my to-do list each day. It’s not such a problem if it happens occasionally but having a lot of unfinished tasks can throw off my productivity for the rest of the day and week. With that in mind I only plan to do as much as I know I can comfortably manage, determined by how much time and energy I have that day. It’s better to underestimate how much you can do rather than overestimate and have half your work still do by the end of the day.
- Identify the next actions
I always try to only work on something if it’s a next action, or more broadly a single, small task with a clearly defined finishing point. This makes it so much easier to start (no procrastinating), do (the work is small, simple and uncomplicated) and complete without any loose ends. If I try and work on something with this clarity it’s too easy to get bogged down with it.
- Do only one thing at a time
I find the number one reason work takes longer to do than it needs to is because I’m multi-tasking. I’m either trying to juggle between several different tasks at once, or I’m leaving myself open to distractions by having the TV on, music playing, Twitter open, etc.