‘Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.’
– Arthur Ashe
Our most productive days happen about four times a year. Often it’s when we go on holidays because that’s when there is no choice – we absolutely have to clear the desk before we can go and enjoy our break. All of a sudden after weeks of procrastinating we’re very clear about prioritising what needs to done and what can be delegated, deferred or deleted. A holiday or deadline brings the must-do tasks into focus.
It’s not how we normally work so guaranteed it’s going to be a stressful day. But it’s worth it. Right?
Not necessarily. What if we could invoke this level of productivity without the stress? Imagine how much we would achieve.
With the right trusted systems in place it is possible. Stephen Covey, of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People fame, referred to a Productivity Quadrant. This method advocates the use of four quadrants to determine which tasks should be prioritised. In a nutshell:
Quadrant One (we’ll call it Q1) represents tasks that are urgent and These are usually reactive.
Q2 represents tasks that are not urgent but equally as important. These are proactive.
Q3 and Q4 are for tasks that are not important and/or not urgent. For this reason alone, we shouldn’t be spending any time at all in these quadrants. If you need to refresh on what’s important – map to your roles and goals.
Maximum productivity on a daily basis not only makes our lives so much easier in the big picture but also far less stressful. Here are three quick pain-relievers to get you started:
Be ruthless. Look at your to-do list right now. Quickly write Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 next to each item. If there are any Q3 and Q4, strike them out – you don’t have enough time.
20-minute goals. Set yourself a goal to give each task 20 minutes of intense focus at a time [link]
It’s ok to say no. Remember ‘It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.’ –Stephen Jobs (more here on saying no)
So you’re going on ‘holidays’ tomorrow. How will that thought of tomorrow impact on what you do today? Safe travels.