Time is free but priceless.
Chances are you have multiple responsibilities and things on your plate every day, but being “productive” is not the same as being “busy”.
Adopt some of these habits in the next 10 minutes, and you’ll be more productive for the rest of your life.
1. How to prioritize
You can’t achieve anything in life if you are not clear about exactly what you want. Having plans forces you (or at least it should) to do something.
Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.” You have no chance of making it in life if you don’t have priorities.
Priorities are things you have to get done in your personal life or at work.
Successful and effective people know what to do when to do it and the tools they need to help them achieve their life goals. Knowing how to prioritize affects the success of your life and business.
To prioritize better, identify your most important tasks (MIT’s), separate urgent from important ones, access the value of each task, order them by importance, and finally add the estimated time of completion anything on your must-do list.
Make your to-do list short.
Call it a “success list”, says Gary Keller, author “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results”.
“Long hours spent checking off a to-do list and ending the day with a full trash can and a clean desk are not virtuous and have nothing to do with success.Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list — a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results.
To-do lists tend to be long; success lists are short. One pulls you in all directions; the other aims you in a specific direction. One is a disorganized directory and the other is an organized directive. If a list isn’t built around success, then that’s not where it takes you. If your to-do list contains everything, then it’s probably taking you everywhere but where you really want to go.”
2. How to get everything out of your head
Don’t rely heavily on your memory.
It will fail you when you need it most.
Instead, write things down everyday.
There are hundreds of options for taking notes — everything from the good old sticky notes to applications like Evernote, Any.do, and Wunderlist.
By jotting down everything that needs to get done in the week, you will have a better picture of what needs to be accomplished — and set priorities accordingly.
3. How to separate urgent from important tasks
What is urgent today may not be important tomorrow.
It’s your job to know what is urgent and needs immediate attention and what is important that can be put off until tomorrow.
Set clear rules and boundaries so you don’t end up taking on too much from others.
When your tasks are separated into important and urgent, you are more likely to give attention to them and get them done as soon as possible.
Don’t be afraid to have someone take a message, or to answer that e-mail tomorrow, so you can concentrate on your tasks.
In 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, Peter Bregman writes, “To get the right things done, choosing what to ignore is as important as choosing where to focus.”
Reduce your commitments. You probably have too much on your plate. If you edit your commitments, you can reduce your workload and the amount of time you need to work.
4. How to focus on one thing at a time
The ability to focus is an undervalued skill. Mono-tasking changes everything.
Singletasking forces you to sustain your focus.
Your output can increase 2–5x if you can single-task on purpose with little or no distraction.
When you have 1 clear priority at any given time, single-tasking is the best approach to get things done in less time.
When you single-task you accomplish more in less time with less stress.
5. How to live the 80/20 life
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Pareto principle, known also as the 80/20 rule: focus on the few things that get you the most benefit.
The principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
Well, you probably have too much thrown at you at once every work day, and you’re too busy juggling everything coming at you to take a minute and evaluate what’s essential, what’s urgent, what you can delegate and everything else that’s a waste of your most important asset.
When you force yourself to focus on essential tasks that have a large Return on Investment (ROI), you will be more productive, achieve more and simplify your life in the process.
To do more in less time, track the time you spend on tasks each hour of each day for a week.
How many of your activities got you closer to your goals?
How many were a waste of time?
How many could have been delegated?
Pick the 20% of your tasks that yield 80% of the results and outsource or simply discontinue the rest.
To effectively pursue less and achieve more, use the MITs rule:
Choose three Most Important Tasks for each day, and focus completely on gettting them done within a specific time.Any more than that and you might not get them all done.
Achievement is a huge motivator.
Progress will keep you going when you stop pursuing more. By restricting yourself to a small number of things, you force yourself to focus only on the essential.
6. How to own and defend your time
You alone can take ownership of your time and decide how much time to spend on your thoughts, conversations, actions and even purposeful distractions that will lead to your success.
“You can’t let other people set your agenda in life” says Warren Buffett.
If 80% of your results will come from 20% of your time, imagine if you got it so right, that you only needed to work that 20%.
Protect your time like a valuable investment.
What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your lifefor it.” ~ Unknown
Ultra productive people focus on getting a lot done with every minute they have at their disposal.
Allocate time to your tasks at all times.
Each task of the day should be attainable, realistic, and time-bound. And most importantly every task should advance your goals for the day, week or month.The time constraint will push you to focus and be more efficient.
Whatever they are, get clear on them, so that you know what to focus on, and actually have something to do when you generate free time!
Owning your time is not just about having more free time; it’s about knowing what you want and using the time you’re given productively to get there.
“Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will” says Greg McKeown
Reclaim your time and suddenly you’ll have a whole bunch of extra time to work on your life goals, to relax and de-stress yourself, to spend time with family and friends, to read, to improve yourself, to work on a passion project, to exercise.
It’ll be one of the most important things you do.
7. How to stop being a perfectionist
If you keep chasing perfection, it could take you longer to get your tasks done — and you will most likely be less productive than you planned.
The reason being is when you activity strive for perfection you spend more time on a single task than required, causing your other responsibilities to get pushed back.
This will cause you to lose time and possibly annoy your immediate boss in the process. Perfectionism is even higher when you don’t account to anyone but yourself, as the fine tuning never ends.
“Perfection can ultimately be the enemy, and is often an illusion, especially if you keep pushing to improve something that is already good,” says Larry Kim, founder and CEO of MobileMonkey.
8. How to measure your inputs and results!
Don’t just measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you could have achieved if you used the best work principles.
If you don’t take time to assess results and figure out how to do more of what’s working, you be wasting a lot of time on activities that have little impact on your productivity.
Examine your work constantly.
Meticulously analyze your inputs and outputs.
The overwhelming reality about life and living it is this: we live in a world where a lot of things are taking up your most time but given you the least results and a very few things are exceptionally valuable.
John Maxwell once said, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.
Time your efforts, and document how you are investing your time.
Are you getting the results you expect?
This might seem like a waste of time at first, but once you see how valuable performance data is for getting doing better in life you’ll start measuring where the week has gone.
This article was originally published on Medium.