This post was inspired by Tim Ferriss, the productivity guru and human guinea pig.
We are continuing our January blog series focused on new habits that will increase your productivity. The end goal of this series is to help you grow your business. In our last post, we talked about the importance of eliminating distractions. Today, we'll cover how to accomplish more by focusing on the big things that will make a difference in your business.
Make a List
When you wake up in the morning, make a list of 3-5 things that you really need to get done. This is not a to-do list for little tasks or personal errands. This list should contain larger projects that will generate big results and grow your business. Next, prioritize this list and pick the most important task. Typically, this is the one you feel most anxious about; the one that's been gnawing at your subconscious and keeping you up at night. If none of the projects are quite that obvious, prioritize by asking yourself a couple questions for each item:
"If this were the only thing I accomplished, would today be a successful day?"
"Will doing this task make all the other items unimportant or easier to do later?"
If you answered yes to one or both questions for any item, that's a good candidate knock off first.
Do One Task
Once you have an item selected, block off 2-3 hours (or more if necessary) to get it done. To be clear, this is a single block of uninterrupted time. And during this time, you will be focusing on ONE single task/project. Don't try to multi-task, and don't string together 15 minute chunks that add up to 3 hours. Take control and set aside an entire block of time.
You're probably thinking "Just one task? But I could do so many more things in 3 hours!" Yes, you could use this time to do 10 small tasks. But if you made your list correctly, those 10 tasks would have a smaller total impact than one big task. The goal is to go for impact, not total numbers of to-do's. Finish the big stuff first, then take care of the smaller tasks later in the day.
If I have 10 important things to do in a day, it’s 100% certain nothing important will get done that day. On the other hand, I can usually handle 1 must-do item and block out my lesser behaviors for 2-3 hours a day.
Also, it's usually best to schedule the 2-3 hour block of time in the morning. If you can get the big task done right away, then you know you've already had a successful day regardless of what else happens - this was established with question 1 above.
This challenge may seem counter-intuitive. Focus on less to accomplish more? But if you try this system, you might just be pleasantly surprised. Plus, if you're spending all your time doing small tasks (e.g. busy-work), you'll never be able to grow your business.