Ever find yourself waking up at the crack of dawn, bursting with energy and ready to own your to-do list and make things happen.. only to look out the window from your desk to pitch black night and find that you haven’t made so much as a dent on what you wanted to accomplish?
I see you nodding as you read this and I can certainly relate.
Instead of banging your head against your desk or reaching for an energy drink to stave off sleep and buy more time, why not take some lessons from some high-achieving pros.
Sometimes all it takes is a string of wise words that can shift our attitudes and guide us to getting more out of ourselves and our days.
1. The Power of “No”
“Learn to say ‘no’. For some of us, it’s not about just working long hours, it’s about taking on too much work that requires us to work those long hours.” ~Alan Henry, Lifehacker
Too many times, we try to get too much done instead of setting our priorities. We think more is more even when we know less is more. This is especially the case when you take on non-critical tasks and push down projects that actually contribute to the growth of your business.
For example, you say yes to a meeting, volunteer to take notes and agree to summarizing the meeting and send out a wrap up report to all the attendees. Meanwhile, your plate is actually pretty full with critical items that actually advance the project forward. “Yes” makes you feel in control but this is a slippery slope that can lead to being taken advantage of by your peers, burning out quickly and ultimately stunting the growth of your business by diverting your attention.
Just say no to the things that aren’t essential so you can zero in your focus on what really matters.
2. Get by with a little help from your… apps
“Get a reminder app for everything. Do not trust your own brain for your memory.” ~Julien Smith, Breather
I like this tip because it reminds us (pun intended) that being productive is not only about doing more at work but also in other areas of our lives. What can often destroy my mood is getting all my work done for the day only to come home to a tornado-type mess at home or a pile of untouched bills on the counter.
For these instances, creating reminders allows us to empty our heads of distractions so we can focus on what’s immediately necessary. There is nothing worse than a nagging feeling of forgetting something so schedule a time to map out your weeks or even the next three days (for you commitment phobes) and have peace of mind while you’re getting stuff done.
3. A Hurdle is Something You Jump Over, Not Stare At
“The hardest part is often just starting. Once things are moving, momentum is on your side.” ~Jonathan Mead, Paid to exist
Pat on the back to the people at Nike for coining the iconic phrase “Just do it.” It doesn’t get more straightforward than that. And yet, with just enough time to hesitate and overthink a task, we often create self-imposed barriers that inhibit us to just dive right in.
We can point to fear as the culprit because seemingly complex tasks are the ones that yield higher risk or reward. If we’re afraid we can’t do a good enough job, it’s likely we’ll make excuses not to tackle it right away.
Give your head a shake. Tell yourself no matter what, it’s not life or death, and go for it. You might even surprise yourself and knock it right out of the park.
4. A Journey of a 1000 Miles Begins with One Step
“Break the unreasonable down into little reasonable chunks. A big goal is only achieved when every little thing that you do every day gets you closer to that goal.” ~Maren Kate Donovan, Escaping the 9 to 5
The reason why things sound cliché is usually because they are ultimate truths, and no one has found a better way of getting the idea across. We keep repeating them because no matter how many times we hear them, we still need a little reminder now and again. This is your friendly reminder to approach a problem like a puzzle – one piece at a time.
“One of my favorite hacks is No Meeting Wednesdays, which we borrowed from Facebook.” ~Dustin Moskovitz, Asana
Meetings, much like emails, get a bad wrap when it comes to productivity. Of course a lot of good can come out of emails, and same goes for meetings. The only problem, as we mentioned, is that we can treat both meetings and email as achievements when generally they are redundant to the real goals and tasks at hand.
Meetings don’t just take up the time they are scheduled but they absorb the time before (for preparation, traveling) and after (traveling, refocusing) and before you know it, it’s lunch or another meeting, or time to check emails, or whatever it is that isn’t real work.
We love this tip as it provides us an uninterrupted pocket of time that we control. I suggest using this day to put your utmost important project or puzzle and use this one day to relentlessly plough through to completion.
Mark Panay is the Marketing Director and Co-Founder of Contactzilla, a cloud-based platform that makes business management easy by offering the antidote to complicated CRM. Mark is also a trustee of Deki, a microfinance charity that helps entrepreneurs generate sustainable incomes.