There’s an old adage that suggests “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.” As a productivity expert however, I don’t think this saying is acceptable. I make it a point to get a tremendous amount of work accomplished in a given day.
Want an example? On Friday, January 7, I did the following:
- Arrived at work at 7:30AM.
- Edited a blog post written by someone else at our company.
- Wrote two upcoming blog posts for our website, and sent them off for editing and scheduling.
- Completed an hour of work for a client.
- Went to lunch with another client.
- Spent an hour running personal errands.
- Wrote a guest post for a networking partner, delivered the post by email, and then made some corrections at her request.
- Wrote another post for the blog promoting my book, Failure: The Secret to Success.
- Took a 30 minute telephone meeting with a potential partner.
- Processed 150 incoming email messages, which included a total of 60 emails written.
- Wrote a journal entry summarizing my day.
- Got home by 5:30PM.
This might seem like quite a bit of work. For example, the three blog posts I wrote totaled over 1,500 words of text and my client projects always require very detail-oriented attention. Not to mention that most of this work occurred outside of the two and a half hours I spent doing various outside activities such as my lunch meeting, my shopping, and my telephone meeting. So, how did I get all of this done in the course of a single day?
The most essential component of a productive day is a realistic, well-defined plan. I started the morning by checking my to-do list. I compared this against my scheduled appointments and immediately decided what I would not try to accomplish before heading home. By moving tasks off of my agenda, I made sure it was possible to actually get everything done. Most of this work occurred outside of the hour I spent at lunch, the hour I spent shopping, and the half-hour telephone meeting.
Second, much of the work I completed during they day falls into specific categories. For example; I edited a blog post that Ashley had completed a few days earlier. With my sole responsibility as editor, I didn’t need to worry about assembling words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs. Instead, I simply read her post aloud, looked for any grammatical issues, and made a few small suggestions.
Likewise, when I wrote four different blog posts, I didn’t have to worry about editing or polishing them to perfection. Nor did I have to select the topic for each post; this work had been completed earlier. It’s a ton of work to generate an idea for an article, draft some text, edit that text, and finally prepare it for publication. Instead, I just completed one of these tasks so that I did not have to mentally switch gears between various categories of effort.
Third, I journaled about my day. I keep a running document which lists all of my accomplishments and reflections. I simply add an item when I complete a task, and summarize my thoughts about various meetings, projects or interactions. It might not seem like keeping a diary would increase productivity, but it actually motivates me to accomplish more. I want to make sure that I have something substantial to put in each entry. Plus, since I know everyone else in my company will read these notes, I want them to see what I am doing so that they can stay up to speed on my progress.
Radical productivity has an incredible impact on your output. Getting more done also improves morale. At the end of a day I typically feel good about my accomplishments. To accomplish this as I have, consider these three tips: (1) establish a realistic, well-defined plan, (2) create specific task categories and (3) keep a daily journal of accomplishments. You’ll soon find yourself working more efficiently, more effectively and with greater satisfaction than ever.