When we get motivated to attack and crush a goal, we tend to unknowingly make the process more complex than it needs to be. We create noise that keeps us from moving forward. I’m not sure what it is about the human condition that attracts us to noise instead of action, but we seem to make a beeline for noise like a politician to a camera …or an intern.
Eliminate the noise – get more done.
The Wrong Way To Organize Your Day
When you first establish a goal, more often than not you begin simply by making a to-do list of things that will help you reach it. But as you begin to list the things that will help us achieve this goal, something starts to happen. You realize that you have other things to do besides that goal.
So your list starts branching off. Now it has three to-do’s for the goal you’re trying to achieve plus a get milk or drop off dry cleaning here and there. Add in a call Randy and an organize filing system – and what do you have?
Noise. Unproductive, confusing noise.
The next thing you know, you’re off on a million tangents and not getting a significant amount of traction in any of those areas on your list.
This is why people always complain about never reaching the end of their to-do lists. It’s also why you hear people say things like, “I worked like crazy for 12 hours today and I don’t feel like I got anything done.”
It’s because they are flitting off here and there working on tiny chards of pieces of projects instead of focusing one particular item they can knock out in its entirety. One that could help them get one step closer to their goal.
Here’s the problem: Everything that winds up on a to-do list is important. It all needs to get done. The issue then is to figure out how can you eliminate some of the noise and get more accomplished.
Forget What You Know About To-Do Lists
Most people organize their to-do lists by time. In other words, your list is organized by what you need to get done today, tomorrow, next week, and so on. The problem with this is the scenario I outlined above. The list gets cluttered and jumbled up with many different projects and we don’t make any significant progress on any of them.
Pat suggests that you organize your to-do list by project, not by time. So you may have one to-do list for a presentation you have to give next week. You may have another to-do list of organizational tasks like straightening up your office or clearing out your inbox. You get the idea.
When I heard Pat’s podcast, I loved the idea and immediately put it into play.
I work long hours traveling the country for work, make time for my family, and run this blog in the evenings and on weekends. The point is that I’m a pretty busy guy.
This works, by the way. It works awesomely! I’m not even sure that’s a word, but I’m so happy with the results I don’t care. I’m getting more done faster – with less confusion and noise.
(Read more about Pat Flynn at the bottom of this post.)
Pick One Thing
Once you have your to-do lists better organized by project, your next step is working smarter.
Decide which project is the most pressing, and start working on that to-do list – ignoring all others.
Pick one item on that list and knock it out completely. If you’re in a time crunch, make it an easy one – but pick one and finish it. If you have more time, tackle a bigger item.
There’s a sense of accomplishment in crossing an item off. You can see the goal loom a little larger on the horizon each time you cross one off.
What about you?
How do you stay productive?
Share your tips and tricks below.