The top secrets to getting things done revealed

Do you ever feel like there’s never enough time in the day?  Time management and laser-like task focus are keys to getting things done, but there’s more.  A reader recently pointed me to a peak productivity article that discussed a number of ways to get more stuff done.  I reflected upon these tips and my own perspectives are below.

Stop Reacting

Easier said than done but I get the idea.  Productivity guru Tim Ferriss encourages this to be more productive:  “Don’t check your email or anything else that is going to dictate your behavior.”  Most of us get up, rush to email or race to something.  Tim argues that is exactly the I’m already feeling behind behaviour we should strive to cut out.  Instead, experts like Tim suggest having a few pre-defined goals each morning, and that literally means a few goals – and focus on those.  In my life, this is something I already try and do although certainly some days are better than others.  Stop reacting brings me to the next secret of getting things done – do the things that matter.

Decide on three things that matter today

In the article I read, there was a reminder that all tasks are not created equal.  How true.  Productivity experts tell us work can be sub-divided into two fundamental types of work:  shallow and deep.  Shallow work is the small stuff like email and some day-to-day meetings.  These are things that do not typically leverage very much talent or skill.  Deep work pushes your boundaries and delivers real value.  It also improves your skills over time.  Over time, focusing on “deep work” will deliver more job/task satisfaction and results.  In my work life, there is plenty of shallow work to go around but there are also pockets of enjoyable deep work.  As I age, I’ve recognized the workplace won’t always deliver what I need – that deep work – this is part of the why I started and continue to run this blog.

Use some “magic” hours for your three things

Just like all tasks are not created equal, not all hours are created equal either.  This means you need to determine and capitalize on your peak productivity hours to get more things done.  You can find your most productive hours by paying closer attention to your habits – a little self-assessment might be helpful.  Ask yourself questions like:

  • Am I a night owl?
  • Am I a keener in the mornings?
  • At what times of the day do I feel most energetic?
  • At what times of the day do I feel most inspired?

By answering these questions, honestly, you can start becoming more time-sensitive to your tasks or new initiatives, focusing on the hours that maximize your potential.  In my life, I actually have a couple of peak productivity hours – mid-morning and in the evening.  I’m not a night owl per se but I do enjoy working on hobbies in the evening.

Positive procrastination can be good!

Apparently procrastination can be a good thing.  For example, if you know you can’t do the task right now, from fear, anxiety or do due other reasons, productivity experts tell us this can be a good thing – as long as it forces you to complete the next priority on your list.  The big difference between productivity and just being busy is delivering value.  Procrastination can be a positive influence in helping you keep your top commitments and deliver the goods.  Instead of trying to do everything, productivity forces you to make decisions about how and where you spend your time.  It ultimately means you know the difference between saying “yes” to everything and saying “no” or “not right now” to more things.  I’ve read this is a trait of very successful people, and I’m learning to put more of this principle into my own work and personal life.

So there you have it, some top secrets from the productivity gurus to getting things done:

  1. Stop Reacting
  2. Decide on what matters today
  3. Use your “magic” hours
  4. Embrace positive procrastination

Now get moving people! 🙂

How many of these things do you do consistently today?

Anything you aspire to work on as part your personal and professional development?

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13 Responses to "The top secrets to getting things done revealed"

  1. This is a reality cjeck… I spend way to much time checking emails. My short term goal: check personal emails only at lunch time when at work and do not check work email so often.
    The idea of “decide what matters today” is also a good one. I will give it a try as well

    Reply
    1. Thanks for reading Amber. I want to be more productive so I can balance my stress and commitments better. Deciding what matters today is very important – something I’m trying to get better at.

      Reply
  2. Hi Mark,
    I need to be efficient in tracking my stock activity! Wondering if you or your readers can suggest an online service to record and track stocks. I currently use the Basic Portfolio on Globefund, but upgrading to GlobeUnlimited (to do more tasks) is $23.99/month which seems a bit high to me.
    Thanks

    Reply

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