You Need Productive Habits
New year new you, right? All the time we hear about how top CEOs, unicorn founders, motivational speakers, and others are up and at it early in the morning. And then so many times we hear about how Average Joe gets up early because “it’s what Zuck does.” Yet, there is a valuable point about getting up early or even going to bed late, and that is the value of habit. Getting up early or going to bed late is not about having more time available to your disposal. It is about allowing yourself to have more opportunities by making the most of your time.
We All Have the Same 24 Hours
Chances are, if you are reading this then you are looking for ways to make more of your time. How we work varies from person to person. So it is necessary to say that because it worked for Steve Jobs it might not work for you. Habit is the root of time. So what exactly is my thought process here?
Getting up early or going to bed late is not for you to be busy. It's a mix of getting organized and being productive, which allows you to optimize your time. You could make sure that you have a power-list created of tasks that need to get done. You could also use the time to focus on your self wealth, going to the gym, reading, or taking a class.
This type of mindset allows you to lock in when it's go-time. You can get the work you need to get done from say, 9 am to 6 pm because you handled your personal tasks.
Congrats! You have just formed a valuable habit. A productive habit.
If you had not made your power-list at 9 pm, or read at 10 pm, or went to the gym at 5 am, then you would spend 9 am to 6 pm stressing about the former. All are activities that are nothing compared to the work done between 9 am and 6 pm. In a sense, it would be trying to start a car with no gas in the tank.
Keep in mind that you must find your own rhythm. More so, your own rhyme and rhythm. What works for Steve Jobs might not work for Tim Cook. What works for Tim Cook might not work for Sheryl Sandberg. What works for Shery Sandberg might not work for you. And what works for you might not work for me. Do you get it? Good.
The Easiest way to make the most of your day
Paying attention to your time spent. Spending hours reading on forming habits or improving productivity is not going to help. This comes back to knowing your value and availability. It also means becoming more organized by habit
1. Learn to Prioritize
There are plenty of ways to go about this but what we need to focus on here is what tasks are in a variable of urgent and important. One option to improve your productivity would be the Eisenhower Matrix. With this, you can break your tasks into 4 quadrants. Quadrants 3 and 4 include things that, urgent or not, do not matter. Effective people spend their time in Quadrant 2, minimize their time spent in Quadrant 1.
You could also give Pareto's principle, or the 80/20 Rule, a try. The Pareto Principle suggests that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results. You can find this rule rather often in business. For example:
• 20% of sales reps might generate 80% of total sales.
• 20% of your customers might account for 80% of your total profits.
You may even combine both the Eisenhower Matrix and Pareto's Principle for yourself. You can also lean into something most everyone ignores, their gut. When you're working on something stop and ask yourself "Is this worth my time?" Your gut response will more than likely tell you what needs to get done instead.
2. It’s Time to Schedule
Once you know what it is that you need to work on, you then need to schedule it into your life. I live by my Google Calendar. I use Asana for tracking, which also syncs with my calendar. Anything and everything that needs to get done is in a single location, Google Calendar. It also is in your favor to block out on your calendar what can be done in specific time blocks.
For example, from 9 am to 11 am you handle P0 to P3 tasks (P being Priority). From 12 pm to 2 pm you complete tasks such as emails, phone calls, texts, etc. Call it your communication block. From 12p to 1p you take lunch, clear your mind. From 3 pm to 5 pm you knock out all P4-P10 tasks. From 5 pm to 6 pm you do a sweep of anything and everything that might have come up throughout the day.
Notice the breaks in time - give your mind some clarity throughout the day.
Keep going even if you are going to lose
Have you ever seen an Olympian not finish a race even when they can see they have lost the race? Of course not. That is because they have made a habit to always cross the finish. Why? For obvious reasons, they would look like a sore loser. But also because they need to have a benchmark. They cannot look back on the race to find their mistakes if they did not finish.
American writer Neal Shusterman once said, “I’d rather be partly great than entirely useless.” That is exactly how you should think. You still need to recognize and admit your failure, but don’t let the sight or thought of failure stop you.
Finish everyday strong, then when you are making your power-lists or at the gym, look back and consider what you could have done better. Apply that thought to the next day. Rinse and repeat.
Never settle. You don't win anything by only showing up. Meaning, you won't get a promotion by showing up to work. You have to put in valuable effort. You won't win that whale account for your business by showing up. You have to put in the work with previous clients to show your worth.
Finding your way
Everyone has their own way of going about doing stuff. You know you need to find a habit. A better process to get stuff done. So do it! Nobody has the answer to success, but you have total control of your success. The key here is that you have to put in the work to form a productive habit.
You have to put in your own work to understand how your version of productivity and success exists.
Only you have control of that. Only you have the power to make yourself do what you need to do. Only you have the control to do what you want to do. So do it!