We are all after that elusive “Ahhh” moment: the empty inbox. The fully checked-off to-do list. The feeling that we have CRUSHED IT today.
Alas, many of scurry around our little worlds in a frantic state of yearning: get this done, knock that off, finish the project! THEN I’ll feel so vibrant and accomplished!! But we don’t get the to-do list done. Ever. The thing just keeps growing and growing, with an evil will of its own. “I’ve busted my butt today and my to-do list went from 17 items to 23 items. What the…?!”
We need to take control of our to-do lists and learn how to reclaim our tranquility… while still being productivity ninjas. Below are 3 pointers.
- Achieve Fewer. Quick grammar note: “Less” is for things we cannot count, for volumes. Think anger or water. “Fewer” is for things that we can count, for quantities. Think people or bottles of water. So when I say “Achieve Fewer,” I do *not* mean Achieve Less. I know you’re a super-awesome over-achiever and you want to achieve, achieve, achieve. But you can achieve More (in terms of impact and value) while still achieving Fewer (in terms of number of items you check off your list each day). This is a key distinction. Many of the greatest productivity ninjas on the planet have a shorter to-do list than you have; they’ve done the work to prune it, to prioritize it. They don’t believe that being busy makes them significant, and they don’t fritter away their day with hundreds of minor/distracting pursuits. They take their to-do list of 17 items and choose the 6 they’re going to do that day.
- Win Column. A “win column” activity is one that would put your day squarely in the win column, meaning: it’s been a good day. It’s a win, not a loss. Killer productivity gurus know that you need to prioritize your to-do list. Not every item is as important, and therefore not every item feels as good to accomplish. Some people spend 3 hours getting 15 little things done but would feel infinitely more satisfied with their day if they had gotten that one, big thing off their mind instead. At the start of each day, “achieve fewer” by cutting down your list for the day and then prioritize the remaining items, giving special focus to the “win column” items.
- Eat the Frog. Mark Twain said, “Eat a frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” The modern wisdom we can take from this quote is the notion of doing your hardest action item first. Instead of doing the easier or more enjoyable action items throughout your morning and eventually hoping to gather the gumption in the afternoon to make that difficult phone call or balance those books or whatever, Twain reminds us that if you get your biggest and most challenging “win column” item done first thing, the entire rest of the day is a bonus. When the worst is behind you, your joy lies ahead~ the freedom this gives you both enhances your day and improves your productivity!
These tools are terrific for managing your state throughout the crazy days of non-stop *doing.* Remember to be intentional about your list and you will find unconventional happiness… while still achieving productivity ninja status.
This entry was posted in Brain Food, BrainStorm’s resource center for parents.
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