How would you feel if you stopped procrastinating and got more done?
What if you had a few proven systems in place that maximized your time, helped you to be more efficient, created a sense of calm, and actually made work more fun?
That would be pretty great, wouldn’t it?
There are some individuals I know that seem to be “naturally gifted” when it comes to functioning productively while achieving an overwhelming number of things with a clear head and a positive sense of relaxed control. They are efficient, organized, and high performers. In fact, my mother is one of them. I recently joked with her about how my brain operates so differently from hers. At times, I feel like I got the short end of the stick. I’m the creative type who loves to jump from one endeavor to another. I have learned however that it is less about being “born this way” and more about mastering the art of systems that work for you.
Here are three simple strategies from top experts on time management, over-coming procrastination, and productivity. These strategies can actually be fun! Choose just one and see how it can help you.
“Welcome to a gold mine of insights for strategies that allow more energy, more relaxation, and a lot more accomplished with much less effort”
-David Allen from Getting Things Done
Strategy #1: Capture What Needs to Get Done Into a Trusted System
In David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, he offers a simple strategy—“Capture all the things that need to get done—now, later, someday, big, little, or in between, into a logical and trusted system outside your head and off our mind.”
Most of us are familiar with the stress brought on by our excessive to-dos crowding our brains—kid’s schedules, your schedule, important events, meetings, doctors appointments you need to make, commitments and on and on and on.
As David says, “Most people walk around with their RAM bursting at the seams. They’re constantly distracted, their focus disturbed by their own mental overload.”
Do you feel as though your to-do overload is resulting in dementia? I know I do! With way too much stuff coming at us at record speed, we are consistently straining to remember all the things we need to do. So how can we change this?
The answer is simple really!
- Take what you need to get done out of your head and write it down in a trusted system that works for you.
- WRITE EVERYTHING down—the big and the little. When I have moms try this exercise, not surprisingly, there are usually 4 or 5 pages of RAM written out on paper. No wonder we struggle with anxiety. I visibly see a renewed sense of peace and calm on their faces just by writing it all down. This act of simply writing it all down can be time and task transforming. You can refer back to your list when you’re ready to move on to that next thing on the list. It’s also fun and a great sense of accomplishment when you finally cross off what you complete.
Strategy #2 – Go Small
Maybe you have heard the adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time.”
It’s the same with our daily responsibilities.
When you want to ensure success at anything and with less stress, the best approach is to go small. “Going small” is ignoring all the things you could do and focusing in on your top priorities or what matters most.
The way to accomplish the most while achieving more from life is to go as small as possible. This way you’re not overwhelmed by everything—instead you focus on the one or two things that matter most.
- Take action to get your #1 priority done. This creates what Brian Johnson calls the physics of dominoes —it goes something like this; a tiny domino can knock over another domino that is 50% larger than itself and the next domino can knock over the next one that’s 50% bigger than (And so on.) Set that first tiny domino in place, rock it, and knock it down! It creates a ton of momentum to keep rocking it.
- Look at your list. What is your top priority that needs to get done for today? Play the domino game!
And then you can play……
Strategy #3 – Play the Two-Minute Game
This one is particularly fun. Talk about a game changer! You have to try it and see for yourself.
Here’s another great quote from David Allen;
“If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it is defined.”
As Brian says, “This is probably THE NUMBER ONE thing you can do to improve your productivity. (Seriously.) If something takes less than two minutes to do, DO IT. It’s super simple. Period. Try that out and watch your life change.”
Think about all the two-minute things that you don’t complete right away and let pile up everyday.
The clothes you don’t hang up. The dishes you leave in the sink. The mail you leave on the counter (or sitting in the mail box), or the trash in your car. The e-mail you could easily respond to but leave in your inbox. That quick call or appointment you need to make.
Take the dishes in the sink—I think about how often I have allowed dishes to pile up that then become a 20 minute task! It’s so much easier to play the two-minute rule–just rinse it and stick it in the dishwasher. And, there’s watering my plants—how often do I tell myself I don’t have time only to have them die. Two minutes and bam! Done.
- Share this with your tween or teen. Ask them to actually time how long it takes to do something. You will both be amazed. Sometimes we turn a molehill into a mountain by assuming the simplest things are so dang hard. Embrace the molehill and embrace the two-minute rule!
Implementing just one of these simple strategies can help you gain greater success for getting stuff done. And, the more you experience the feeling of accomplishment, the greater chance you’ll create the energy and momentum (like that domino effect) to get even more accomplished. It doesn’t have to be a mountain or an elephant. Employing one strategy can help maximize your time, to be more efficient, calmer, and actually make work more fun.
Questions: What helps you to be more productive and efficient to get stuff done? What is your one thing you can accomplish today to feel more productive?
Resources: I am a huge fan of Brian Johnson, founder of Optimize Your Life. Brian takes the best wisdom from great teachers and makes it fun, inspiring and practical in less time. Much of what I have shared here is provided by Brian in his micro and master classes, and from his Philosopher’s Notes. Check him out: https://brianjohnson.me. He is one of my primary go-to people to be inspired and to get fired up!
Also, check out David Allen’s site at www.GettingThingsDone.com.