3 quick questions to help decide daily priorities

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“But how do I decide what to do right now?”

In my role as a Productivity coach at coach.me , I work with energised, high achieving individuals and the organisations they run. The biggest problem most of my clients face is maintaining focus and deciding which task is the most important out of the thousands of things that must be done immediately.

These unstoppable people don’t have reverse. They are full steam ahead on whatever task is in front of them. They’ll go without food and sleep to beat a deadline, launch a project or secure a deal.

But, what do they choose? How do they decide what to work on, right now?

I have been trying to simplify a system of prioritising, either for daily tasks or individual projects. The question is – can we distill all the productivity information flying around into something basic, fast and effective?

My clients don’t have time to spend an hour a day prioritising and sifting through the work in front of them. Shifting goalposts in their market and new developments mean they have to be agile and they need to be able to get to work on their most important tasks as soon as possible.

As a coach, being able to help these people achieve their goals is hugely satisfying. So I need a solution for them that at least starts to address the question:

“When I have 20 things I have to do right now, which one do I start with?”
 
I’m not sure I have the answer yet, but I think the following shows promise.
 

There are three key cornerstone concepts to Productivity:

 

1) This quote:
“Besides the noble art of getting things done,
there is the noble art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”
Lin Yutang, 1895 – 1976

 

Essentially, most of your output is the result of a small amount of input. Most people spend too much time on things that don’t matter.

 

3) Batching.
Quite simply, doing similar things sequentially. For example, if you have 5 phone calls to make, then make them one after the other. Check email twice a day instead of every hour.

 

Don’t confuse batching with multi-tasking. Attempting to multi-task ensures work takes longer and is of a potentially sub-optimal standard.  Science proves this.

 

To summarise:

Focus on the important/discard the non-important, apply Pareto’s rule and batch work.

 

Which brings us to three quick questions when deciding what gets done:

 
1) What can I leave undone?
 
2) What one thing will have the biggest impact?

3) When is the best time to do that?

 

As I said, it’s a start.

 

Feedback, questions, comments and criticism are all welcome.

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