There is one thing the era of technology has given all of us: broken focus. In an effort to do get more done, we have made ourselves available anywhere at anytime. This means we are accessible to everyone’s emergencies, pulling us away from our own priorities.
In order to pull a counter-move a be productive, you need some rules to live by. These rules will guide you whether you are employed or self-employed. I’d encourage you to begin thinking about how you can let these rules of productivity guide your day.
While I learned these rules in several places and through my own experiences, I give the majority of the credit to Marie Forleo and Gary Keller. They are great examples of people who have intentionally said no to the good in order to accomplish the great.
“Embrace chaos, you can never really get it all done.”
Early on in my online business building journey, I use to live in a constant place of frustration. I use to tell my wife: “I wish I had 10 employees that could just run with all of these ideas I have.” While that sounded noble, I realized two things:
- First, I’ll never really get it all done and that is okay. Embracing chaos is what most successful people do.
- Second, it is really more about focus. The truth is the more you focus, the more chaos will increase. Other things get left undone so you can do what is most important in your business.
“Get on the ‘no’ train”
I should write an entire blog post on this, but learning to say no is one of the most important skills you can have in your career and business.
- Sometimes you have to say no to yourself. Most of us have more internal distractions and excuses than we realize. Checking email can be an addiction and constantly pull you away from what is most important.
- Sometimes you have to say no to others. This is hard, but it can be done. Gary Keller in his book The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results says to offer this question when stuck between two choices: “If I can get to this by [Date], will that work okay?” Gary’s reasoning is that it is often more important to others that something will be done rather then when it will be done.
“Your most important list is your stop doing list.”
Oftentimes we’re our #1 enemy when it comes to productivity. As Steven Pressfield writes in Do the Work, the resistance comes on strong and we have to be willing to go to war in order to accomplish our highest priorities.
Focus is more about what you are choosing not to do. You intentionally choose not to waste your energy on what is not that important. Checking Facebook several times a day is not best use of your time.
“If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.”
This is such a great principle to live by. You can have all of the intentions in the world, but intentions get us nowhere. You move things out of “intentions” and into “implementation” when it gets put on the calendar.
“If you erase, you must replace.”
This is a pithy little saying. This saying works great if you block off time on your calendar to do your highest work. While you should keep this appointment with yourself at all costs, learn to automatically replace it on the calendar if you must change it.
“Do stuff early in the day…willpower has a limited battery life.”
I have found this to be so true for me on many different levels. When you first wake up in the morning you have a green color on your energy level. It is just the way that most of us are wired.
As the morning goes along, our energy color goes from green to red. You will often live frustrated if you try to do your most important activities late in the afternoon. You are drained by this point and need some downtime to replenish your energy.
“Doing the most important thing is always the most important thing.”
It might seem funny that I left this for last, but I did it on purpose. If you remember no other rules, remember this. Your most important thing will always be your most important thing.
While this seems simple enough, our days don’t reflect this. The loudest thing becomes the most important thing. Our coworker’s most important thing becomes our most important thing for the day.
Guard your most important thing and do it every day, and the results just might surprise you.
Question: Which of the above productivity rules mean the most to you?