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6 Ways to Become a Productivity Expert

6 Ways to Become a Productivity Expert

Are you looking to make the most out of every day? Wondering how to turn up your productivity and take it to the next level? Here are six tips that will help you get on the right path to productivity and ensure that you are getting the most out of each day.

1. Know what’s most important to get done.

This is probably the most critical action you can take every day. Know what your number one priority is and write it down. When you know the one task you need to accomplish for the day to feel productive, it becomes much easier to do. Don’t create a to-do list with 20 tasks to have done by the end of the day. Why? Because when you don’t get to all of them, you won’t feel productive. Set a small achievable goal each day and when the momentum picks up you can continue to get other things done.

Sometimes it is just as important to know what not to do as it is to know what you need to do. “I started with projects that I wanted to do, but then realized I didn’t really have the time and they were not high enough on my priority list to invest the time in completing them … You can complete a project by dropping it … It’s important not to have incomplete projects even if we never do anything about them because they drain energy subconsciously,” says Arianna Huffington, who wrote the book “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.”

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2. Wake up early.

If you really want to create focus and productivity in your life, waking up early is essential. The hour or so you have in the morning before your family wakes up, before your coworkers distract you and before the emails overtake your inbox is just for you. Reserve your hardest tasks and the ones that mean the most to you for the morning. This is when your energy is at its peak, so make the most of it by focusing on work that matters.

Once you make waking up early a part of your routine and understand the exceptional benefits it has to your productivity, you will never turn back. Hal Elrod is the author of the “Miracle Morning,” which focuses on starting your day off right to ensure productivity. Elrod believes, “If you have a productive, powerful morning, you will have a productive, powerful day.”

3. Schedule your day.

Before you go to bed each night, plan out your next day. Schedule your appointments. Schedule time for your most important priority and for other work you need to get done. Mentally preparing for your day, armed with a plan, just ensures it will run that much smoother. Why risk trying to figure out what needs to get done the next day, when you can wake up and just go? So schedule out your day, but remember this includes scheduling appointments with yourself that you should honor just as much as you would with a manager.

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According to entrepreneur and productivity expert Peter Voogd, “A plan relieves you of the torment of choice. It restores focus and provides energy.”

4. Eliminate distractions.

Turn your phone on silent. Limit the amount of time you spend on social media and surfing the web. The key here is remember your time is precious and it is essential to being productive, so don’t waste it on things that don’t matter. If you need to focus on a project, close out of the internet and set a timer for at least 30 minutes of pure focus on it. You’ll be surprised how much more you will get done when you don’t have a million things competing for your attention. Be mindful of your habits. Know your weakness and where you spend your distraction time and redirect that to focus time.

According to study done by Student Science, “Processing multiple streams of information simultaneously is cognitively challenging, thereby potentially causing reduced effectiveness in the performance of the overlapping tasks.” You’re basically just not as effective while you try to multitask or engage with distractions while also trying to get work done.

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5. Include “make up” time in your week for tasks that still need to be done.

No matter how hard you try, sometimes you just won’t be able to get everything you wanted to do in a week done, which can leave you feeling unproductive and unaccomplished. So, instead of settling for not reaching your weekly goals, set aside time to catch up on work that you missed out on each week. Maybe you schedule in two hours on Sunday to finish anything that you couldn’t get to earlier? It doesn’t matter when it is, it just matters that you know you have time in your week allocated to getting yourself back on track if you weren’t able to reach your goals.

Paul J. Meyer, an inspirational leader and coach, said, “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” You need to commit to being productive. It’s not something that just happens, it’s a deliberate action you take every day.

6. Review your progress.

It’s easy to wake up each day and just cross off items that we’ve done, but if you don’t take time at the end of the day or week to review your progress, you won’t feel productive or accomplished. Before you start your weekly plan, slow down and recognize all that you’ve done. It’s okay to take a moment and pat yourself on the back. In fact, it’s encouraged because once you realize how much progress you are making you will be even more motivated to continue down your productivity path.

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“Let’s be honest: if you don’t think about your goals, you won’t make them happen. The key is to review these goals and set action steps each week. If you only do it once a year, or even once a month, you won’t remember them on a daily basis,” said Leo Babauta, the founder and writer of “Zen Habits.”

Featured photo credit: Matt Gibson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 3, 2020

How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

It takes being productive to get things done correctly and on time. So how do you know which tasks are essential and which can wait? The answer is in the Prioritization Matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Matrix.

The matrix took its name after Dwight David Eisenhower.

Eisenhower was a general in the US army and the 34th President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. As a five-star general and a Supreme Commander in the US Army, he drafted the strategy for an Allied invasion of Europe.[1]

Eisenhower had to make tough decisions every time about which tasks to prioritize out of many he needed to focus on daily. So, he came up with the famous Eisenhower Matrix, or the Prioritization Matrix.

What Is the Prioritization Matrix?

The Prioritization Matrix is a tool for rating your tasks based on urgency. It helps you know the critical activities and those tasks that you should bypass and can be useful in project management, small businesses, or personal tasks.

Eisenhower famously said of the matrix:

“Most tasks that are urgent are not important, and most tasks that are important are not urgent.”

This quote became the maxim for Eisenhower in managing his time.

There are four quadrants in the Prioritization Matrix, which help in comparing choices of what to do first and last, allowing you to prioritize projects and create strategic plan[2].

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Eisenhower Matrix Template

    The quadrants are:

    • Do
    • Schedule
    • Delegate
    • Eliminate

    Do

    Do is the first quadrant in the Prioritization Matrix, and it incorporates important activities. That is, those tasks you need to carry out urgently — crises, deadlines, and issues that need your urgent attention and are highly relevant to your life mission.

    Hw do you know which task falls into this quadrant?

    Start by analyzing your priorities, and then establish if it falls within the ‘do it now’ criteria. If the task is achievable within a day, or within 24 to 48 hours, it’s urgent.

    Another approach you can adopt in prioritizing tasks in this category is to adopt the “eat the frog” principle by Mark Twain. This principle recommends that you do the most urgent activities as soon as you wake up.

    Here’s a practical example.

    Let’s say you need to draft a content strategy and submit a report to your manager. It’s Saturday, and the deadline for submission is Monday. Can we say the activity is urgent? Definitely!

    Schedule

    The second quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Schedule. The Prioritization Matrix classifies tasks in this category as important but not that urgent.

    They are long-term objectives and tasks with no immediate deadline. Those tasks could include meditation, journaling, studying, family time, and exercising.

    You can plan out activities in this quadrant for some other period. For instance, you should exercise for good health, but you can allocate time to do it.

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    Schedule these activities in such a way that they don’t transfer to the “Do” or “Urgent” quadrant. Ensure you have sufficient time to carry them out.

    Delegate

    The third quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Delegate.

    These tasks are not important to you but are quite urgent for others. This is where teamwork comes into play.

    You can technically perform tasks in this category, but it makes sense to delegate them. Delegating tasks will ensure you have more time to pursue activities in your first two quadrants.

    You should also monitor the tasks you have delegated. It will only amount to a sheer waste of time if you don’t have a tracking system for delegated tasks.

    Eliminate

    The last quadrant highlights your productivity killers. They are tasks that are not important to your goals and not urgent. The only way to boost your productivity is to eliminate them.

    Some examples are constantly checking your phone, watching movies, or playing video games.

    They could also be bad habits that you need to identify and delete from your daily and weekly schedule.

    Successful people have learned how to prioritize and stick to what’s important. They have learned to find a better person for a task or eliminate less significant tasks.

    Let’s consider two inspiring personalities that have designed their prioritization system.

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    Warren Buffet developed a two-list prioritization model to determine which task deserves his best attention. The bottom line is bypassing things that are important and useful but not top of the priorities.

    Mark Ford, a business advisor, marketer, self-made millionaire, and author devised his strategy:

    “Start work on the most crucial priority, take a break, work on the second most important task, take a break, then sort out the less important activities and any tasks he received from other individuals by afternoon.” [3]

    How to Use The Prioritization Matrix

    Using the Prioritization Matrix can be tricky if you’re new at it, but by following a few simple steps, you can learn to utilize it in the best way possible.

    1. List and Rank Your Priorities

    Highlight all the tasks you need to carry out in a day. Then, classify them with weighted criteria based on urgency and importance.

    Identify any activity that requires prompt action. I’m referring to a task that if you don’t complete that day, it could produce a grave consequence. For instance, if you don’t submit your content strategy, other content writers cannot work. It means you need to check for high-priority dependencies.

    2. Define the Value

    The next step is to examine the importance and assess which of them impacts your business or organization the most. As a rule of thumb, you can check which tasks possess higher priority over others. For instance, you need to attend to client’s requirements before you take care of any internal work.

    You can also estimate value by examining how the task impacts the people and customers in the organization. In a nutshell, the more impact a task has on people or the organization, the higher the priority.

    3. Take out the Most Challenging Task

    Procrastination is not a symptom of laziness, but avoidance is. The truth is that you will typically avoid tasks you don’t want to do. The former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, once said he would take out the most dreaded task first thing when he got to the office.

    Brian Tracy called these tasks the frogs you need to eat. That will remove the nagging dread, which mounts pressure on you when you postpone necessary tasks[4]. This is where the Prioritization Matrix can help; eat the “Do” frogs immediately.

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    If you need help overcoming procrastination, check out this article.

    4. Know What’s Important to You

    As long as you are in this cosmos, you will always encounter different choices that may be contradictory to your goals. For instance, a fantastic promotion that requires excessive travel will isolate you from important relationships. If you are not priority-conscious, you may accept it, even though your family is your priority.

    Therefore, it makes sense to identify what is important to you and to prepare yourself not to compromise those important things for immediate pleasure or gain.

    Yogi Berra captioned it this way:

    “If you do not know your destination, you might end up somewhere else.”

    5. Establish Regular “No Work” Time

    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki established a rule not to check her emails between 6 pm and 9 pm. According to a CNN Business report, she was the first woman to request maternity leave when Google just got started. She prioritizes dinner time with her family despite being the CEO of YouTube[5].

    Is it possible to cut out time for our relationships and interests outside of work?

    Of course, and that’s why you need to set out your “no work” time. This approach will enable you to renew your energy levels for the next task. Also, you will be in the best position to introspect as you are not in your usual work zone.

    6. Know When to Stop

    You can achieve everything on your list sometimes. After you have prioritized your workload and assessed your estimates, remove the remaining tasks from your priority list and focus on your most urgent and important tasks.

    Conclusion

    It’s not enough to be successful at work. Ensure you make out time for your family and an important relationship in your life.

    Getting started and finding time may be tricky, but with some practice using the Prioritization Matrix, you’ll find that you are more productive and better able to divide your time between the things that are important to you.

    More Tips on Prioritizing

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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