How You Can be More Productive Every Day!
The Definitive Guide to Time Management & Increased Productivity
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Poor time management is a major contributor to stress and a significant reducer of productivity. How many times a day do you pay some price for not managing your time properly? Are you finally ready to change that?
There are a lot of differing points-of-view on exactly how to address time management and productivity issues. We decided to approach the subject matter a bit differently . . . instead of focusing individually on each expert, and their immeasurable contributions, we instead chose to look at it from the perspective of you, the reader, and address the areas where you might be struggling. We have laid out this paper based on the following themes. You can read from start to finish or click on a single area to focus on.
To accomplish this task we choose (22) Time Management and Productivity experts and examined some of their primary themes to get a sense of not only where there’s consensus but also unique perspectives. Our hope is that you will be able to derive, from the variety of viewpoints, a starting point for resolving your own time management and productivity concerns.
Managing time . . . is it achievable or is it just a fleeting concept? Yes and no. Kevin Kruse rightly points out that “Time is our most valuable asset, and we only have 1,440 minutes in each day.” So how you use that time is of paramount importance. But time management is not an inherited skill, it is a learned one. That’s why it’s important to listen to the voices of those that have dedicated much of their own time to understanding time and the profound impact it has on all of us.
A careful examination of time management thought leaders reveals . . .
Common Threads and Themes
While each of our experts have their own “spin” there are common themes that run throughout each of their philosophies. Much of this stems from how they became interested in the field of productivity to begin with.
For many it was because they themselves started experiencing overwhelm on a daily basis. Incentive is indeed a strong motivator. Others began the journey as an intellectual exercise that became a passion.
Most incorporate some elements of the Pareto Principle which states, for . . .
Modern Adaptation for a Rapidly Changing World
Much has been written over the centuries about time and its relative level of importance. While many of the productivity principles first uncovered have not altered significantly . . . technology has.
The modern person is dealing with an almost unimaginable increase of incoming stimuli compared to just a quarter century ago. It isn’t just that its coming at us in waves, its more that we are expected to be able to handle all of it and remain effective (and well as sane). As such, many of our thought experts have laser focused on this.
David Allen has significantly revised his original 2001 classic, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, for just this reason.
Peggy Duncan has created a fascinating niche as a shortcut expert advocating working smarter, not harder. But her insights extend far beyond that as she isolates the behaviors necessary to deal with everyday stress.
She advocates that you start by identifying where you are wasting time. Take a week . . .
It All Starts with Self-Awareness
There is almost no philosophy around self-improvement that doesn’t start with the same premise . . . if you want to change, you must change yourself. The only true control any of us have is self-control.
The Brookings Institute’s findings show that to be successful adults must, at minimum, do (3) simple things: “at least finish high school, get (and retain) a full-time job and wait until age 21 to get married and have children.”
Each of these actions are dependent upon the individual consistently making good decisions. This ability is greatly enhanced by an honest look at oneself, your patterns and your tendencies or habits.
The importance of self-introspection extends to one’s ability to be productive.
As alluded to earlier, Peter Bregman is a big believer in knowing oneself and recognizing one’s own tendencies. By observing your personal behavioral patterns you begin to recognize things like, for instance, your need to always be the best. He suggests that it is far better to accept that we’ll never achieve perfection, we’ll always be learning, and we should enjoy the experience we are in.
Several times a day Bregman says we should tell ourselves, “This is what . . .
How to Stay Motivated
How many people do you know that followed through on their New Year’s resolution for more than a few months? Probably not a lot.
Motivation is a fickle concept . . . how can we be so sure of what we want one moment then have that momentum wain in the next?
An underrated aspect of all goal-setting is a concrete understanding of why we are truly undertaking the effort to begin with. Is that reason sustainable over time? Will it remain as powerful when the going gets tough?
In the end, the best motivation is one that is closely tied to our personal value system and thus will remain unchanged over time. But motivation isn’t just one thing or defined by a single approach.
Eric Fisher believes that momentum is the strongest motivation to build upon.
He suggests that you look through your to-do list and select those items you know you can complete successfully right now.
This will produce a motivating feeling of momentum from having . . .
Action is Required
The greatest ideas, theories and proposals all remain inert and unprovable unless some action is taken. The same holds true for the changing of any behavior.
But it isn’t just any action. Our thought leaders address action from a variety of perspectives but all stress the obvious necessity.
It’s important to always recognize that all forward movement is good, regardless of outcome. First it provides momentum which, as referenced earlier by Fisher, helps propel future motivation.
It also provides invaluable lessons to be built upon. If it fails you have learned what path not to pursue any further. If it succeeds then you know you’re making progress. One of the keys is to always pursue only that which you can handle at that time . . . keep it simple.
David Allen believes that our goals, both personal and professional, are achieved by mundane consistent steps.
In his approach all things are just “stuff” that need to be inventoried, described and put . . .
Building New and Better Habits
Now we are back to the concept of change and self-awareness. There is a great cartoon where a speaker polls his audience by asking “Who wants change?” Of course everyone raises their hands. When he next asks who among you is ready to change this same audience suddenly are motionless . . .
Change is difficult but also one of the primary constants in life. If you are not always prepared for at least the possibility of change it can overwhelm you.
This preparation begins, as with so many other things, with understanding yourself and your own patterns. Our experts understand this very well.
Chris Bailey says that just the simple exercise of forming a new habit, regardless of its outcome, automatically makes you more productive.
But he also emphasizes that not all habits are equal. “Your most important habits . . .
To-Do or Not To-Do . . . a List
The to-do list used to be a given. The only variation would be what qualified to get on the list and how it was managed and maintained.
Today’s experts are not entirely different but do advise some interesting variations including compartmentalizing, chunking and advance planning. Some even go so far as saying no to lists altogether.
He is a big believer in getting an early start to the day but not just . . .
You Need to Plan to Have a Plan
We all know the expression, “The path to destruction is paved with good intentions.” It certainly applies to time management and productivity. You need to have a plan before you start, to measure your progress by and to identify the specific goals you wish to accomplish. Otherwise you are going to feel like you’re the ball in a pinball machine bouncing around in all directions but never really getting anywhere.
Erik Fisher emphasizes the power of understanding what it is you truly want to do and a plan for how to get there. This can be accomplished by posing penetrating inquiries such as: “What is the minimum daily . . .
Quality Rules Over Quantity
The age old battle between Quantity and Quality is not much of a contest among our experts. In fact, quality is such a resounding winner precisely because, if focused on acutely, it will actually produce more quantity (at least in terms of value) in the long run.
The constant is the need to value . . . value. It is not what you produce so much as the level of value that contribution represents. 10 books that don’t sell pales in comparison to 2 books that sit atop the New York Times Bestseller List for months.
In Chris Bailey’s top 10 lessons learned from his Year of Productivity #1 is “Productivity isn’t about how much you produce, it’s about how much you accomplish.” So how does one reach a level of high accomplishment consistently?
As we continue to look at some of his lessons learned Bailey provides . . .
Learn to Say No . . . Consistently
We wrote a short article titled “Frustrated at Work? Self-Advocacy is the Answer” that attempted to capture the necessity of exerting more control over your fate by employing some simple techniques at work. While it only scratched the surface, the principle is supported by our experts as a vital mechanism to being more productive. Interruptions are the most common source of disruption we encounter every day on the job. It is estimated to take anywhere from 20-40 minutes to get back to where you were prior to the interruption. Multiply that several times a day and the non-productive hours start to add up quickly. But it’s “not my fault” you say . . . read on.
Stever Robbins addresses interruptions from a few related perspectives. First is learning how best to handle interruptions and intrusions on your time.
The key, as Robbins attests in a synopsis of Step 4: Cultivate Focus of his . . .
Know Thy Enemy . . . Procrastination
Though the results vary dependent on the study, a vast majority of people procrastinate on a regular basis and it gets worse every decade. There has never been a time when more available distractions exist to seduce our attentions away from the task at hand. Everyone is acutely aware of this but knowing and changing can often be at odds with each other. When it comes to being productive, procrastination is one of the largest impediments to success. So, what to do . . .
Damon Zahariades preaches procrastination avoidance. “The price you pay for procrastination is not always immediate. The true cost becomes apparent via a ripple effect that expands the more you put things off. This ripple effect eventually impacts both your personal and professional lives.”
His first, and most important, recommendation is to simply take the . . .
It is said the most difficult part of any lengthy prose is the beginning and the end. So here goes . . . Without being too long-winded it is vitally important to get this point across . . . this article has just barely scratches the surface of our expert’s thoughts and contributions. Their insights are truly remarkable. Take what has been laid out here and try to match the authority with your own personality and start reading something they have written. Below is a list of their names and some books they have written or contributed toward.
One last note . . . these experts were carefully chosen but there are many others who have contributed to the knowledge base of productivity improvement. Take advantage of our wired world and the access it affords to learn more. Hope you’ve enjoyed the read and cheers!