There’s a crucial irony related to productivity: if you need to work smarter, you need to first stop working (but not for too long.) Today’s guest post from Mark S. Brown explains this idea in detail.
Mark is with New Roads Leadership. Here’s what he has to say:
If you spend more time organizing your work than the actual work itself, then you may need some productivity help. We need to be very aware of the time we spend actually working versus the time we spend preparing to work. Being effective is not the same as being organized. A person can be organized, but get very little accomplished.
Here are three things to consider if you want to increase your effectiveness, and not compromise your preparation and planning.
1.) Stop procrastinating! Organizing work is easier than the work itself. We can find ourselves putting off the work because the planning is easier. If you find yourself procrastinating, change your planning time to the end of your day. Tackle the hardest work first thing in the morning, and delay more of your routine tasks until later.
2.) Make organization a habit! If you are spending too much time on organization, then it is possible that you have not yet converted these tasks to habits. Habits are usually done quickly and without much thought. You don’t plan or spend much time brushing your teeth. That is how your organizational efforts should feel.
3.) Keep It Simple! Using the latest software and gadgets may be more efficient, but they may also come with a huge learning curve. That learning curve is likely to be repeated as new features and versions are released. You have to decide what is the best balance for you. Sometimes the best solution is the simplest solution, a pencil and a piece of paper.
There are days I struggle in all three of these areas. But most days I can overcome these shortfalls with simple solutions converted to habits, and a focus to achieve my commitments. If you need more help in these areas, I would be glad to grab a cup of coffee with you and learn about your obstacles.
If Mark’s suggestions sound familiar, you might be a long-time reader of The Methodology Blog. We’ve talked about stopping procrastination, about the role of habits and productivity, and about the incredible value of refusing to be clever.
In fact, we ran a post way back in 2010 advocating doing nothing at all for a while to enable you to focus on more important tasks in the future.
Organizing is not working, but it is impossible to work efficiently if you are not organized. Just like meetings and email aren’t work, deciding what you will do and when you will do it truly matters. And although the act of cleaning your desk doesn’t actually get anything done, it improves your mood and the opinions that others have of you and your work.
The irony of accomplishment is the work matters about as much as the setup. Like taking a long road trip, having the car pointed in the right direction with the maps ready to go is as essential as keeping gas in the car and staying focused on driving. Stay organized, but don’t an obsession with complex organization prevent you from making progress.
Or, in the words of James Cash Penney (who founded the J.C. Penney department store chain): “It is always the start that requires the greatest effort.”
Mark S. Brown is an executive coach who is passionate about personal development. He works to make a difference in people’s lives by empowering them with skills and knowledge that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in. Mark has been coached, mentored, and certified by John Maxwell and his team. This coaching certification allows Mark to successfully coach and train individuals, groups, organizations, and companies.