My interest in personal productivity inevitably led me to learning more about what makes people successful because, if you haven’t already discovered, the two work closely together. Indeed the relationship between being productive on a personal level often leads to a person achieving far more than their peers who have no productivity or organisational system in place.
Let me explain: To be successful you need to define what success means for you. Success is an individual thing. The way I view success is likely to be very different to the way you view success. This is why I emphasise the importance of defining your own vision of what a successful life is before you move on to setting out to achieve that success. But, once you have a vision of what success is, you then need a plan to achieve that success. Having a system in place to accomplish that plan requires a system of time management and productivity. So to be successful, you need to be productive.
The biggest threat to your achievement of success is being caught up in daily busy work. It takes your focus away from the truly important things and it takes you down roads that will never improve your life and will often take you far away from what you want to achieve in life. A good productivity system of task lists, goals and plans keeps you on track and if you do get taken down a rabbit hole of unimportant busy work, it is very easy to get back to working on those things that are important to you because you have the system in place to get you back on track.
In my everyday work as a communications consultant, I meet people from all levels in a company. I work with middle managers, senior executives and CEOs and I find the people who frequently get stuck in the unimportant busy work are more often the middle managers. It is not that they have more work to do, indeed if they actually took some time out from running down roads of unimportance they would find better and more effective ways to do their work and find they have less work to do. It seems to be more a mindset problem. Rather than asking themselves “how can I do this better?” They sprint further down the road of inconsequence and complain about how busy they are.
Then I see senior executives at work, these people are more often focussed on outcomes and goals. They know what they want to achieve, they have a plan in place to achieve it and they regularly measure themselves against that plan. Those middle managers who learn to plan effectively, find better ways of doing their work and measure themselves weekly against their plan are the ones who very quickly find themselves in senior executive roles. Those middle managers who don’t plan effectively, don’t list out their objectives for the day or week are the ones who get left behind in the middle management trap.
To be successful you need to know what you want. You need to have a plan in place to achieve what needs to be achieved in order to get what you want and you need to have the discipline to say “no” to the things that do not help you accomplish your goals. A productivity system that reminds you of your goals and what you want will give you the tools to be able to measure your progress on a regular basis. It does not have to be an extensive digital task manager, it could simply be a notebook and pen. The tools are less important than actually having a system in place that will lead you on the right road towards achieving the success you want.
A simple search on Google will show you tremendously successful people like Sir Richard Branson and Warren Buffett have a system in place. In Sir Richard Branson’s case it is the notebook he carries with him everywhere he goes. In Warren Buffett’s case it is his simple calendar (actually a small pocket diary). They all have some kind of system that allows them to keep focused on the important things and monitor and measure their outcomes and goals.
In my recent online success course, I did a lecture on learning from successful people. The simple reason for doing this is because successful people have already achieved success. They have set out a roadmap for you to follow. If you do what they did, then it is inevitable you will go some way towards achieving some level of success. You may not achieve the same levels of success, but by researching you will find their road map and with a little modification you will find a way that suits you and your circumstances. You will find how they structure their day, how they plan and how they get stuff done. Recent documentaries on Warren Buffett, Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins are a gold mine of information and life tips for us all to see and learn from.
I would like to build a global communications and self-development company, and when I look around, both Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins have built similar companies. All I need do now is research how they built their businesses and find the road map they followed. It won’t be easy, but there clearly is a roadmap out there for me to follow and I have begun the journey. It’s fun, it’s hard work, but the reward, if I achieve it, will be well worth the sacrifice and hard work. If I fail, the journey will have given me such wonderful lessons that the things I learnt will empower me to further my life in other directions. To me that’s a win win.
To be successful you need a plan, to follow that plan you need a productivity system that will keep you on the right road and maintain your focus when everything around you is in chaos. That is why the achievement of success is directly linked to having a productivity system in place. Now all you need to do is create your productivity system and begin your journey towards achieving the success you deserve. What are you waiting for?
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I am a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity and success. I work with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and achieve the success they desire.