How I Plan to Be More Productive

January
3rd, 2014
Keyhole - Content Marketing - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder
January
3rd, 2014
Keyhole - Content Marketing - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder

Goodbye 2013. Hello 2014.

Now that the calendar has flipped over again, it’s that time of year to create a list of resolutions that will most likely be broken and dismissed by Valentine’s Day. I know the odds are against me to keep my resolution all throughout the year, but I’ll have 0% chance of reaching it if I never set it.

So here goes.

In 2014, I Resolve…

…to stop running in place and be more productive with my time. Every morning, it’s been the same song and dance with my to-do list. I wake up and lie in bed, feeling a slight depression come over me with the amount of work I need to accomplish for that day.

But the truth is, I really have no idea how much or how little I need to do. I just know I have a huge list of things on my to-do app—listing every level of item from “Rebrand XYZ Company” to “Trim beard.” It’s really a bit out of control, and basically a dumping ground for every thought that passes through my mind. My fear is that if I don’t put it there, it’ll pass between my ears and be lost forever.

But I’ve never known where to start tackling this list of minutia or how to go about it.

Until now…I think.

The Productivity Schedule by Donald Miller

In late February, I’ll be heading to San Diego to attend the Storyline Conference, hosted by author Donald Miller. This same group created a system—The Storyline Productivity Schedule—that will hopefully double my output this year.

Donald Miller and his group researched countless studies on the creative process, procrastination, positive work habits and willpower. (So basically, they researched most of my weak points.) And what they discovered is that the brain acts much like our biceps. It wears down when it gets worked out and requires some rest to recover. Not more work. And per Henry Cloud, it needs to only focus on one thing, for distractions to be inhibited and for constant reminders of the task at hand.

Sounds good so far. But if you’re like me, you’ve probably uncovered a few productivity schedules over the years, and you’re probably asking what’s so different about this one?! Well, here’s what intrigued me most about the Storyline Schedule:

  • IT GETS YOU WORKING RIGHT AWAY. I used to spend morning hours some days just reading and responding to emails. By the time I got done, I had no energy or motivation left to get going on anything. No longer. Emails, texts, Facebook, Twitter, [insert distraction] are no longer opened or touched until AFTER I work on my first project of the day for a couple hours. Brilliant!
  • IT FORCES YOU TO FOCUS ON ONLY 3 KEY PROJECTS PER DAY. I always thought I had 15-20 important projects to work on that day, and so I’d try to chip away a little at each one. They’d take forever to complete that way.
  • IT REMINDS YOU DAILY OF YOUR LIFE THEME. When I first read this, I thought that was weird. Why do I need to list out my life theme everyday? Easy. It forces me to compare my work against what I believe my purpose to be on this earth. If the two are off, I need to reevaluate the stuff I’m taking on.
  • IT BUILDS IN REST AND REWARDS TO RECHARGE YOUR MIND. What? No guilt for taking a break? Exactly!

The Daily Process

So here’s the daily plan I hope to use every day for the next 30 days. After that, I’ll hopefully have made it my regular process and no longer need to complete the plan each day. Oh, and don’t worry. I’m not giving away some secret plan for free. You can download your own.

Everyday I start my day by filling out the following:

  1. Today’s date. This one’s pretty obvious. If you can’t get past this step, you might need to find a new plan.
  2. If I could do today over again I’d…Helps you focus on the important, not trivial, matters.
  3. Things I get to enjoy today. This can be anything from a workout, dinner with friends, a game on TV. Whatever you look forward to enjoying later in the day.
  4. Appointments. Limit yourself to a maximum of seven each day.
  5. Todo list. These aren’t major projects, but things like getting an oil change, mowing the lawn, setting up a meeting, etc. Things that can’t wait until tomorrow, but can wait until after projects are done.
  6. My life theme. State what your life’s about or what you’d like to have been known for before you die.
  7. Project 1, 2, and 3. Put them in order of importance, not order of enjoyment.
  8. Rest and rewards.

These should happen every 90-120 minutes and last 15-30 minutes. Ok, if they must!

So that’s the plan. Let’s check back in 30 days and see how it’s going. Keep my accountable please!

This completes project #1 for the day! Time for some rest/reward.

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