Whenever we talk about the secret to productivity, we tend to hyper-focus on tactics.
That’s not to say tactics aren’t part of it — because they are. But it’s important not to lose sight of the strategy in the process.
What’s the strategy?
Move from beginning to end quickly and effectively.
That’s the definition of being “productive.”
Most people aren’t productive because of these reasons:
They try to do too many things at one time.
They fall victim to distraction.
They overbook and under-allocate the hours in their day.
But here are the real reasons people aren’t productive.
They get lost in the weeds and forget what they’re truly aiming for.
They spend far too much time ideating and not enough time working.
They don’t know what is dependent upon what: what needs to be finished first, second, third, fourth, etc.
Understanding the true pitfalls of “not getting things done” is the first step toward actually putting practices in place that will move you from where you are to where you want to be.
So, what’s the secret to insane productivity?
It’s understanding what you need to do — before you start to do it.
Don’t take this the wrong way: As BGO creative director Mark Beeching would say, “You can’t steer a stationary ship.”
You have to get started in order to really understand how to improve at all.
What I’m saying is, along that journey you can do yourself a tremendous service by preparing for your work sessions by clearly understanding what it is you need to do, and how you’re going to do it.
We waste a lot of energy when we sit down and have to ask ourselves, “OK, where do I start?” Instead, you should spend the night before answering that question, so that by the time you sit down the next day to work, you already know: “I need to finish these two reports, I need to research this strategy, I need to create this document, and I need to send this e-mail.”
The more you can plan your trajectory ahead of time, the less time you will waste along the way figuring out where you’re flying to and how you’re going to land.
You have removed that ambiguity.
That allows you the freedom to actually get things done.
This article originally appeared on Inc Magazine.