Busy versus Productive
I have a confession. I make lists and check off the tasks when they are done. I don’t know if it is the momentary sense of accomplishment that comes when I make that check mark or cross it off the list but it feels good. For a little bit at least.
Lasting fulfillment comes not from checking off the task but having the right tasks on the list to start with.
We each have 525,600 minutes in a given year. It is what we do with those minutes that set us apart from others (and our competition).
A great place to start before we allocate our time to our tasks is our priorities. Are we getting the most important things done first? How do we know what is most important? Looking at people who are both happy and successful (they are not mutually exclusive), we will find that they balance their lives, not just their careers or business. Their goals are set based on what kind of person they want to become not what is on their bucket list.
Why do you wake up in the morning and get out of bed? What are your core values? (Family? Relationships? Opportunity to make the world better? A chance to realize your potential?) Spending a little time to think about what is important allows you to set your priorities. You can then plan tasks around those values.
I had a college professor who taught a great lesson to me. After discussing priorities, he said that “time does not equal priorities.” I used to set my priorities and then get down on myself because I was spending time on other things – work, school, sleep, etc. When I stopped attempting to measure my priorities by how I spent my time, a whole new world was opened up. I was able to plan tasks that took care of what was most important even though I didn’t spend the majority of my day on them.
If I took it a step further and planned to do those important tasks first thing in the day, my whole day was better because I had spent time on what was important before I spent time being busy. I was being productive.
Start your day with tasks that you do to take care of yourself so you can be productive, happy and fulfilled. That might be prayer, reading, expressing gratitude, a healthy meal, etc. When you get to work, start with the most pressing things that only you can do. If you can delegate a task, set aside time to properly delegate the item to the team member and then pass it along. This will let you take care of what only you can take care of and let the other stuff get done too.
I work in a world of deadlines. Some can be extended but some cannot. My time at work starts with listing the tasks only I can do from my list in order of the most important to the less important – sometimes this is based on due date and other times wants or needs. I have time set aside on my calendar to work them (in order) which keeps me focused. Some days I am able to get through many things on the list, and some days only part of one. Having spent the time on what is most important leaves me feeling productive even if I didn’t get to make my check mark.
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