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Methods to Improve Productivity-Part I of IV

What is productivity to you?

To me, being productive means I am able to accomplish what I need to accomplish in a timely and calm enough way that I am able to pursue what I want to pursue. What I need and what I want are usually not the same, though I often want to accomplish what I need!

There is a lot of literature which suggests that we should do only the most important things-the highest priority. In a way, I do agree with that, but the way we go about focusing on the highest priority is really important.

I believe that men AND women have an amazing ability to keep track of tons of different details of things accomplished and those yet to do. Besides the 10,000 ads a New Yorker is estimated to see daily, there are other stimulants and distractors such as noise and people, LET ALONE what's going on in our minds. For myself and many of my clients, it's a challenge to distill the highest priority down from all these things buzzing for our attention.

When it comes to making TO-DO LISTS, we must capture all things buzzing. That is the only thing that quiets them enough so we can concentrate.

  1. So, get out your trusty pad and pen, and write the date on a piece of 8 x 11 paper. Nothing electronic will do.
  2. Empty your bucket of EVERYTHING you want/need to accomplish. I have a slightly more intricate way that I employ for to-do lists, but this is the most basic rule. Get it all down. Yes, it may take 5 sheets of paper, front and back, but I've rarely seen it longer than 10 pages. Often, around 2 pages, the speed slows, and we really start searching-is that ALL I have to do? Then why am I so stressed?
  3. Next, circle one thing you want to achieve TODAY. You're going to be very tempted to circle more than one. Exercise restraint! Circle one thing. Now, get everything you need to accomplish as much of it as you can and then do so. Yes, focus on it and only it. When you're done, cross it off, and circle the next item. Repeat as much as possible.
  4. At the end of the day, knowing how much you have accomplished, choose one item for tomorrow and circle it. Feel free to continue adding to your to-do list any time you think of something. The more comprehensive it is, the better.
  5. Before you go to sleep, think about that one thing you are going to accomplish tomorrow, and review if there are any missing parts that you need to do first. If yes, add them to your list.
  6. Envision yourself accomplishing the task.
  7. Sleep well.

That's right. One to-do list, one task at a time, one visioning exercise, and a good night's sleep. The beginning of your ultimate productivity.

What is easy or challenging for you re:productivity? Leave a comment!

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    Methods to Improve Productivity-Part I of IV - Professional Organizer NYC | Helping YOU Organize - Leah Fisch NYC - Professional Organizer Manhattan, NYC, Clutter Reducer
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    Leah Fisch is a Professional Organizer in NYC. Change doesn't take as long as you think. Contact Leah now for a free 15 minute phone consultation: 646.430.9150
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Reader Comments (3)

What a simplistic idea that I rarely do. When I use a to do list, I actually accomplish things and it seems less overwhelming. I have been actively putting off a few tasks and now realize that all I have to do is write them down, do them in order of priority and that's it. Done. Thanks for the gentle reminder!

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda

So true, Brenda! Sometimes the hardest "To-do" item is to actually make a list.

January 30, 2011 | Registered CommenterLeah Fisch

I'm embarrassed to admit how many self-help books I read, but one I picked up recently at SIBL--Ready for Anything by David Allen-- had a great piece of advice (I thought) about how many of the items on our To Do lists are not "actionable". Silly corporate-speak, but apt in this case. I realized how often I avoid tasks because I haven't made it clear or thought through something that needs to be done first. As you wrote in #5 above "Review if there are any missing parts." His point is you can often make *some* headway on most items, even if it's just two minutes. I'm just making up examples but --Mailing a gift? Locate your wrapping paper. Doing taxes? Do a quick search for 1099s. Instead of just these giant, vague, intimidating things "Taxes. Holiday gifts. New insurance." He says to write the next action step for each so you know what to do when you attend to it and don't become daunted. Anyway, maybe this is old hat but it's been helpful to me.

February 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

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