One of the things that has always struck me about amazingly productive people is their ability to quickly decide whether something is important or not. These incredibly productive people seem to be able to eliminate the unimportant and only focus on tasks that will move them closer towards their goals.
A better way of making sure you get the important things done.
In my book, Your Digital Life 2.0, I explained this by recommending you establish what routine tasks you have to do each day, week and month and then separate them into their own project. What this does is help to remove tasks that need doing, but do not improve the quality of your life or take you closer towards achieving your goals. Those things just have to be done. Taking the garbage out, doing the weekly sales report or cleaning your house. These are tasks that will not take you further forward to achieving the goals you have set for yourself. Essentially what you are doing is demoting their importance to you so you can focus on the higher quality tasks.
We naturally move towards the easy tasks.
The problem is when you have a to-do list full of important and unimportant tasks you are naturally going to navigate towards doing the easy tasks. Doing the quick easy tasks gives you the dopamine hit we all crave and we feel our to-do list is shrinking. The problem is we also feel we are accomplishing something, yet if you took a step back you would release you are accomplishing nothing important. The harder, longer tasks get pushed back and those are tasks left to do when we are tired or about to finish for the day. The problem here is those more difficult, harder tasks are the important tasks. The tasks that would accelerate you towards achieving the things you want to achieve.
A far better way to manage your to-do list is to relegate those easy routine tasks to the end of the day. And this is why moving your routine tasks into a separate list helps to stop you from being tempted into doing them at the expense of the more important tasks.
The question is how do you do that?
The first thing you can do is sit down and take a look at your to-do list from the last week. Look at the tasks you completed and find the tasks that you have to do every day or week and write them down on a list. Once you have collected all those tasks onto a list, find the ones that have to be done regularly either daily, weekly or monthly and decide whether they are tasks that improve you as a person and take you closer towards achieving your goals. If they don’t they are likely to be routine tasks and you can move those tasks into a separate list called “routines”.
Tasks such as “go for a run” may be routines, but they improve the quality of your life. These are important tasks. Tasks such as these do not go on your routines list. However, a task such as “prepare weekly grocery list”, is a routine task. It just has to be done. Those kinds of tasks go on your routines list.
I have a weekly task to write this blog post. It comes up on my daily to-do list every Monday. This task is a task that contributes towards my goal of helping one million people to become better organised and more productive by 2020. I do not consider writing this post a routine. It contributes towards a goal. Yet, cleaning up my folders, project lists and calendar does not contribute towards any of my goals and so a task like that would be on my routines list.
Becoming better organised and more productive is not just about starting a to-do list. There is much more involved. It’s a great start to write everything down that needs doing, but you also need to attack that list with laser-like focus to establish which of those tasks are important and will contribute towards your overall goals and which ones will not. What you want to do is apply Pareto’s Rule to your list by asking yourself which twenty per cent will contribute to eighty per cent of my goals? Those are the tasks you should focus on completing. The other eighty per cent of your tasks you do when you can, if you have time.
This is why doing the Golden Ten daily planning works so well. Those ten minutes at the end of the day when you sit down and plan out the next day not only leaves you feeling less stressed, but it also helps you to stay focused on the important work, the work that will turn you into a productivity master. During those ten minutes, you can see what needs doing and make sure the important tasks get done first so that when you are feeling tired towards the end of the day you can be safe in the knowledge you have done your twenty per cent important tasks.
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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.
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