August 18, 2014
Regardless of what business you’re in or what your goals are, productivity is extremely important. In a time of constant movement, constant communication, and continual pursuit of achievement, we seldom feel we are ahead of that long to-do list, no matter how many completed tasks we record at the end of the day.
Here are four approaches to improving productivity and results:
1. 80/20 everything. Pareto's Law states 80 percent of the outputs result from 20 percent of the inputs. If you take 10 of the tasks and activities you want to get done, two of them will produce more results than the other eight combined.
2. Most things don't matter. Most things make no difference and aren’t moving your progress or business forward. Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, but is far more unpleasant. Being more thoughtful and selective about choosing what actions we make priorities is a reliable path to being highly productive.
3. Doing something unimportant well doesn't make it any more important. Activities that are not connected to an outcome or purpose are the drain of all fulfillment and fortune. The value of what you do is most important, followed by how you do it.
4. Put time limits on everything. Parkinson's Law dictates that a task will become bigger in importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion.
Most inputs are useless and time is wasted in proportion to the amount that is available. If you have 12 hours to complete a project, the time pressure forces you to focus on execution. You have no choice but to do only the essentials that actually matter. If you have a week to complete the same task, it's six days of validation, excuses, and procrastination – followed by one day of rushed work. If you have a month, it becomes a mental monster.
There is magic and high value in deadlines. Deadlines bring equal or higher quality results, sooner, by encouraging greater focus.
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