Last week I read an article on LinkedIn on how to be more productive. I’m always looking to learn and try new things. The one productivity tip that resonated the most for me was this:
- Before you go home today, write down the top 6 things you want to accomplish tomorrow;
- Cross out the bottom 5;
- Write the remaining one on a post it note and put it on your PC screen;
- Tomorrow, set aside 90 minutes in the morning to get it done.
Here’s my experience from my first try using this tip.
So, first I had to come up with the 6 things I wanted to get done the next day. That meant looking at the various notes on my desk, my calendar for the next day, the reminders on my PC that weren’t completed, a spreadsheet I keep on strategic and tactical activities for the business, and my task list for debt collection activities in our collection software system. It sounds like a lot, but I’m actually pretty organized and aware, so it only took a few minutes to get an overview of all the things I wanted to accomplish.
I then focused on the items that would not get done during the normal course of my day and wrote down the 6 more important ones that needed special attention in order to get completed. As I looked at the 6, I had to decide the basis for prioritizing the list. I can see that I could have different priorities at different times, depending on what is on the list. Today, the daily, weekly and monthly requirements of my job were well under control, so I definitely had the time to prioritize based on longer-term goals for our collection agency.
As I looked at the list of 6 items, I kept asking myself, which one is most important as a step towards this long-run goal. It didn’t take long to cross off the bottom 3. Number 1 actually jumped out at me, and I left the office that day excited that I knew it was going to get done tomorrow. Just having that knowledge, commitment, and optimism made that day a better day, and the next one a day to look forward to.
The next day, I spent 45 minutes taking care of a few things that came in overnight and few things that I wanted to get done early. Then I committed to no interruptions by phone, email, text or social media (as if I was in a meeting with a client and could not be interrupted) and focused on my task. It didn’t take the whole 90 minutes. I had a great feeling of accomplishment when I was done. I was excited to take an important step towards a long-run goal. No matter what else happened during the day, I knew I would have this accomplishment for the day, something to feel good about.
At the end of the day, I repeated the process, and had my list from yesterday with the 5 items I had crossed off. Nothing came up that day that needed to get put on the list, so I took #2 and it became my priority for the next day. It too got completed and I’m glad to have this new way to achieve long and short term goals.