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Asking Yourself These 4 Questions Can Transform You into a Productivity Rock Star
Are you the guy who's always busy but never seems to get anything done?
Your to-do list is a mile long, and you keep adding to it as the day wears on? Cross one item off and add two more to the list. How long did it take to create that damn list in the first place?
Becoming a productivity rock star comes down to the quality of your systems and replicating them daily. A quality system reinforces good behaviors and punishes bad ones.
Do you have a time management system other than some list on a whiteboard or scrap of paper?
Before we get to the questions, let's look at a few challenges we must address.
- Distraction - We live in a "hey look at me" world overcome with dings, dongs, chirps, and whistles. Look, we got a new email. Somebody just DM'd us. Our crypto account dropped half of a point. Do we need notifications for everything?
- Obligation - What are we doing when we wake up in the morning and immediately check our phones? We're making other people's needs a priority. When was the last time someone asked for only five minutes of your time, and it took less than ten?
- Misplaced focus - How many tasks for the day will actually move the needle in your life? Being busy doesn't mean you're productive. Recall the Pareto Principle, where 20% of our efforts result in 80% of gains.
Overcome these daily challenges by building a better productivity system. Use this four-question process to become a productivity rock star.
Question #1: Is this necessary?
Look at your calendar and determine your top priorities. Most of us have a hard time saying no, and our calendars fill up with other people's needs.
"You've gotta keep control of your time, and you can't unless you say no. You can't let people set your agenda in life." - Warren Buffett
Become ruthless with your priorities and eliminate anything unnecessary.
An enormous waste of our time is meetings. People love meetings because they make us feel important. What do you need to do that can't be accomplished in an email?
Learning to say "no" is the hammer in your productivity toolbelt.
Question #2: Can it be simplified?
Almost as much as our devotion to meetings, we love to make things complicated.
The natural thought is that if something is complicated, it's better. If it takes a long time to complete, it's valuable.
Let's create a flow chart that people will have trouble following to show it's a worthy project. Maybe I should add more columns and tabs to this spreadsheet for a more impressive appearance. This presentation looks too short. Let's add some more slides. Ugh!
Whatever the task or goal, simple is better.
Question #3: Can I delegate or automate it?
How much do you make per hour? How much would it cost to have someone or something else do the task for you?
The difference is working ON your business versus IN it. Oh, you don't have a business? Of course, you do. You don't need to own a business to have one. You're in business if you provide a service or sell a product. When you work for someone else, you are the product and service.
Nowadays, there's an app or some kind of SaaS (Software as a Service) business for almost everything. If you require something that doesn't exist, that could be your next business.
The most productive people in the world delegate or automate virtually every task. Only the highest priority tasks earn their limited time and attention.
Question #4: What is non-negotiable?
Even the busiest people need non-negotiables on their calendars.
Whether it's 90-minutes at the gym every morning, an afternoon walk, or dinner with the family, non-negotiables keep us healthy and sane.
These items are your highest priority and cannot be moved, replaced, or compromised. Without non-negotiables, we become flexible, and flexibility is the enemy of productivity.
It may seem that we need a certain amount of give and take in our daily routine, but those are the scope of the first three questions in this exercise.
We become nimble when we say no more than yes, simplify instead of complicate, and work on our business, not in it.
Anther. Male wellness where it counts.