Projects, products and profits don’t just happen by themselves. They aren’t handed to you and they aren’t magical. They all take hard work to achieve.
To finish projects, create products and drive profits, you need to set and reach goals. They must be the right goals, though, or you’re just racing toward the finish line on a hamster wheel. Here are three ways to make every day more productive.
- Set Your SMART Goals
- Plan Your Day
- Use the 1-3-9 Productivity Method
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Set Your SMART Goals
A SMART goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Focused and Time-Bound.
Specific goals should clearly define what you are going to do using clarifying words like What, Why and How.
What are you going to do?
Measurable goals are ones that you can track the results of.
How will you know you’ve succeeded?
Achievable goals should be challenging but attainable.
When will you know your task is complete?
Results-Focused goals have specific outcomes to reach, not just activities to do.
What are your expected results?
Time-Bound goals should be limited to a timeframe to ensure they get prioritized appropriately.
What is the deadline for completing this task?
Plan Your Day the Day Before
Getting into the habit of planning your day the day before is the hardest and yet most helpful action step you can take to having a more productive day. It also makes you demonstrably more efficient.
One of the best tips I ever got was from Mel Robbins who said, “Think of your goal and have it at the forefront of your mind.” Take that a step further and intentionally think about tomorrow’s problems today. Doing so allows your brain’s natural tendencies to help you solve problems. It’s called the Ziegarnik effect (wiki). Your brain absolutely loathes the idea of something left undone.
If you know what you’re going to face tomorrow – and you will, when you plan your day the night before – you can approach it with the invigorated perspective of a mind that has chewed on it all night.
Before you go to sleep, think about the biggest task you’ll face tomorrow for a few minutes. Even if you only make it 60 seconds before you’re snoring, making tomorrow’s problem your last thought before sleep is a powerful practice.
Many of us absolutely loathe getting out of bed in the morning. Make it easier on yourself: plan your tomorrow, today. My favorite way to do this is by using the 1-3-9 Productivity Method.
Use the 1-3-9 Productivity Method
You’ve got your goals, now what?
Crossing the finish line of any race is merely a process of taking one step after another, regardless of the distance. You can be running a marathon or just a one-mile fun run, but the whole way, you’re putting one foot in front of the other.
You can approach your goals in the same way. I have been using the 1-3-9 Productivity Method for my Daily Goals for quite a while now, and I can say that it’s the most useful productivity ‘tool’ I’ve ever used.
1-3-9 Productivity Method – Daily Goals
Make a priority list of things you need to do. If you have a large assignment you need to work on, make sure to break it down into smaller, manageable, action-based items.
Organize your list into three levels, based on importance and level of priority.
Create your 1-3-9 Productivity List for tomorrow:
( 1 ) very important task
( 3 ) somewhat important tasks
( 9 ) smaller, less important tasks
Once you’ve sorted out tomorrow’s tasks into these levels: Stick To It.
Start with the ( 1 ) very important task.
Don’t move on to any other task on the list until you’ve finished that one very important task. This accomplishes two things:
- First, it sets your priorities for the day. You chose this task to be the most important, and now it’s completely within your power to make it happen. If your task is too big to be completed in one day, break it down into pieces. Then prioritize your day.
- Second, choosing to work on that ( 1 ) very important task first front-loads your day. Everything else will seem like a cake walk once you finish your most difficult task! It also ensures that, at the very least, you’ll get the most important thing on your list done for the day. #winning
After the first item on your list, work your way through the ( 3 ) somewhat important tasks that come next. As you might guess, you should work your way through this level of tasks before you move on to the third level of ( 9 ) less important tasks.
Keep working your way through the list you’ve created until you’ve exhausted the list or you’re exhausted. Just kidding, stop when you feel like you’re ready to end the day.
This process for prioritizing your workload forces you to finish the most important tasks before you move on to the next. Doing so maximizes your cognitive capacity, creates a positive feedback cycle and helps create the momentum to stay motivated through the rest of your day!
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