You’re only as productive as you plan to be. If you don’t have a process for remembering what needs to get done, scheduling out your priorities, and measuring and improving your progress you’ll never do enough of the right things to get you to where you want to be.
If you’ve ever found yourself trying to “remember what you forgot” you have a productivity problem. If you’ve ever found yourself with that feeling that “you know you should be doing something but you’re not sure what it is”, you have a productivity problem.
You have a “never going to be successful” problem.
You will never be successful if you can’t get things done. It is as simple as that.
You can do it all — a lot of that even at the same time — but you have to have a plan.
Being productive really just comes down to doing 3 things very well consistently — remembering, prioritizing, improving.
- Remembering — Whether you use pen-and-paper or a simple task management tool like Todoist, Wunderlist, Asana, or Trello, you have to have a place that you go to consistently with ideas, goals, and promises you’ve made to other people. Whatever you use — it needs to be your second brain. It’s where you record everything that needs to get done. Everything. As soon as you think of it, you capture it. Stop wasting energy trying to remember what you should have captured the first time around.
- Prioritizing — Despite your best plans, your life presents obstacles and disruption to getting everything done in a day. The key to productivity is to assess your resources and time — and adapt to the changing patterns of your day. If only certain tasks can get done during certain times of the day then make sure you leave time in those parts of the day to do those tasks. While it seems like common sense, managing your priorities requires brutal honesty and daily rigor. Use every moment you have to get you a little bit closer to where you want to be. Listen to books on tape during your commute. Follow up on important communication while you’re waiting for a meeting to start. Check the progress of your team while you’re walking to the bathroom.
- Improving — You’re not going to get it right all the time. Sometimes you’re going to spend most of your day spinning in circles. Being more productive each day than the last demands you are honest about ways to improve. One way to do that is to spend a few minutes each morning assessing how you did the day before. Ask yourself one key question: “What is one thing I could have done better yesterday?” You don’t need to immediately solve that problem. But being aware of your own habits is vital to the long-term success. Tiny changes executed consistently make the difference between staying stuck and making progress.
That’s really the essence of productivity. Not that you stay busy.
But that you make progress on what truly matters to you.
That you are always moving a little bit closer to where you want to be.
Regardless of the tools you use or the methodology you swear by — don’t overthink this idea of productivity and getting things done.
If you can remember what to do, do it, and get better at doing more of it, you’ll never struggle to find success.
No matter how scary big your goals for yourself are right now.