In this article, you are going to learn the simple 1, 2, 3 step system that's going to show you how to plan your day for maximum productivity and also how to do it really easily
First of all, let me show a quick anecdote which will illustrate an important point.
A guy is driving a car somewhere in Belgium and he is not sure where to go so he stops by the pedestrian who is asking for a lift.
The driver asks “Is it far to France?” And the pedestrian replies, “No it's not.”
Then the driver replies “If you want, I can give you a lift, sit down into the car.”
They drive for about an hour, and then the driver asks, “We have been driving for an hour, is it far from France now?” and the other man replies, “Oh yeah! Now it’s far!”
This anecdote goes to show that before we start putting some efforts, we really need to make sure that you are moving in the right direction, which brings us to the item number one.
Step 1: Before creating a ‘to-do’ list, review your goals.
There are millions of people on this planet who are working really hard and doing tons of different tasks daily and yet they are not having any significant progress in life.
Here an interesting saying about this from Chichvarkin who is the founder of the largest Russian mobile phone retailer which make him the net worth of $1.6 billion. He suggested that
“Instead of being workaholic, it is better to be a ‘resultaholic’ or even better a ‘successaholic’.”
So, what he wanted to emphasize with this phrase is that you really got to show that you are not just busy doing lots of things but you are really moving towards your major goals.
Here’s another story that would illustrate the point really well, about Richard Branson.
There were guys who organized a conference and they wanted to invite Richard Branson, the famous British entrepreneur to come and speak there. And they contacted his manager and offered 30 thousand dollars as payment for Branson to come and speak at their conference. And the Branson’s manager replied, “No, I’m sorry, Branson is busy”.
Then the organizers of the conference thought for a little bit more and they sent the new proposal, this time 50 thousand dollars. Just for coming and speaking up at the conference. And once again they heard the same reply saying we are sorry but Richard Branson is busy and he can’t come.
So, the guys thought for a while and then they decided to make an unbeatable proposal and they said hey 100 thousand dollars for speaking at our conference. The reply was from the manager of Branson who said that Richard now has the laser focus on his new important project and there’s no money which can make him distract from this work.
That’s really the attitude of highly successful people. Often times instead of having a long list of to-dos instead you got to actually shorten it and narrow it down to fewer but more critical tasks that you really get to focus on.
Anyway, our first step is that you need to think about your long-term important goals. Maybe you have one important goal or several. Its really good if you have them in writing so that before you start planning your day, you can review quickly your goals. This will make sure that instead just being busy, you are actually moving in the direction of your dreams.
Step 2: Prioritise 3 actions that are important for YOU.
Recently I had conducted the online masterclass called ‘Boost Your Confidence & Performance’ and one of the questions I got from a participant called Joshua from Singapore. He asked how to stay committed to your goals when you have a day job?
Joshua (on the left), with me (on the right)
It is indeed true that often you have got a job and even many other responsibilities and tasks that you need to perform. If you let all of these tasks to penetrate in your list of to-dos then often times you have a hard time moving in the direction of your major goals in life because all of your time is occupied by these different chores and responsibilities.
Instead, the better approach is to prioritize the three tasks that you do first of all in the morning before you go to your job or do any other things.
What could be those three things?
Those are the 3 things that move you in the direction of your major goals. We have just qualified your major goals in the first step of this day planning and now the second step is to you ask yourself what are the three steps that can help me move towards my major goals at list a little bit.
What could be those three steps?
A lot of highly successful people made the part of their morning routine to allocate the time for exercising and for learning. If you do this, make sure that you invest in your body and your brain and this investment will always help you tremendously throughout your entire life.
Brian Tracy, one of the time management experts, suggested that you “eat that frog in the morning.” What he meant to say is that there are a lot of actions that you can take, that produce you the immediate rewards. However, when you work on long term goals, often times you cannot see the results immediately - you have to do the work for quite a lot time before you are able to see the massive results.
That’s why he suggested “to eat that frog in the morning”, to do those things even if they don’t give the immediate results but they will ensure that you have massive results later in life.
The three things you can do in the morning can be anything. For example, one thing can be exercising and the other can be learning something and the third can be defined by yourself. Basically, any action that will help you to move towards your major goals.
By the way, of course, I realize that sometimes you can be busy – perhaps, you don’t have that much time in the morning, but that’s alright.
Let me give you another story -
There was a guy who wanted to write a book. He had a day job and a family with kids. Whenever he tried to allocate special time for this activity, he could never make it because there were always plenty of tasks that made him really tired before he could get to his writing.
So instead, he committed himself to write 1 page every morning before everything else. He did that for a year. By the end of the year a 365-page book was done!
You can apply the same approach for anything else in life – to achieve something, you don't need to put in massive amounts of efforts at once; instead, taking small actions over time will yield BIG results.
Step 3: Two questions to double your productivity.
A few years ago, I made a survey asking my audience, “What do they want from me? How can I help them more?“
One of the answers that I received was that he’d appreciate it if “I could hold him more accountable.” He explained that we tend to do things that are more comfortable rather than useful.
This reminded me of Stephen Covey’s story –
A guy walking on a street observes another man looking for something beneath the street lamp.
Man 1: Have you lost something? What are you looking for? and Man 2: Yes, I have lost my keys.
Man 1: Alright, let me try and help you.
(Together they start looking for the keys)
(…After a while)
Man 1: Hey I think I’ve looked everywhere and there are no keys here.
Man 2: Yes, I know.
Man 1: (Surprised) Then why did you continue searching for them here?
Man 2: Because here there is streetlight here. So it is convenient for me to search here.
This story is a great analogy for what we generally do in life - we choose things that we can do more quickly and easily – those that are in our comfort zone. Hence, we procrastinate doing things that may indeed transform our lives significantly.
How do you break away from this habit?
You need to analyse your performance and keep improving it. This way, you will make sure that your productivity is always at its peak.
As we discussed, at the beginning of your day, review your goals, note down (and get to action) 3 actions that will help you move towards your major goals.
At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself the 2 questions that will have drastic improvements in your productivity in no time.
What are the three good things that I have done today?
This question will allow you to distinguish between productive and non-productive activities.
What are the three things that I am going to do better next time?
These question will help you improve something. Moreover, it will ensure that you are not just doing things the same way from one day to another. Rather, it will push you to find ways to make it better, faster, easier, cheaper. This way you will always make sure that you are not just moving forward but keep accelerating your progress.
If you don’t have the time to think about these 2 questions every day, try and do it at least once every week.
Now, let us not procrastinate and put what we have learnt to practice - write down in the comments section below ‘Your plan for the day.’ Think about how will you make sure that your day is productive. Finally, write down one action that you are going to do that will help you move towards your major long-term goal.
And remember what the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said,
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Even if you take a small step every day, slowly but surely you will stay on track and move towards the direction of your dreams.
I am sure that one day you will reach the destination!