How many times have you come across something that is so familiar you almost dismiss it without giving it a second look….only later to find that you passed up a real gem? That happened to me last month (again).
I read and curate a lot of content in a few key areas, productivity in particular, in order to condense it down and serve it up for others…..especially for my coaching clients.
So needless to say, when I saw an e-mail from Don Miller’s “Try This 30-Day Process for a Happy and Productive 2017” (make sure to download the 1-page pdf), my eyes began to glaze a bit and I almost deleted it along with the dozens of other e-mails I wasn’t interested in. I mean, come on: how many advertisements, products and e-mails do you get in December and January related to weight-loss, productivity, habits, resolutions, goals etc? Besides, I’ve tried a number of approaches, tools and technology over the years and feel pretty comfortable with the productivity system I use. Why waste time looking at yet another approach that’s probably just the same thing rehashed?
I’m glad that when I got in my car something nudged me to click the podcast link in the e-mail I nearly deleted earlier.
Miller’s 1-page productivity schedule approach is clearly not the same old stuff rehashed. Better yet, it’s the first system I’ve seen that incorporates sound psychological principles designed to get you focused fast and at the same time stimulate emotional energy to fuel you once you get started. It’s also the simplest. Needless to say, after listening I was intrigued enough to give the system a try for 30 days and it has been a game changer. I’m still going and it’s day 45+.
What’s different about it and why should you care? Besides using just 1-page (yes, as much as I hate to admit, paper is involved) and only taking 5 – 7 minutes to complete, here are the key distinguishing elements:
- Key Projects for the Day: List only 1 to 3. It’s likely you’ll never even get to the third, and that’s ok. Most systems recognize that you can’t get more than 3 really important things done in a day anyway. What’s different in this system is that you list the time you spent on these after the fact, not before. That way you feel good about the work you were able to get done vs how you measured-up to unrealistic time expectations.
- Rest and Reward: These are really tied-into the section above, one for each project. You only have so much fuel before you fatigue mentally and need a re-charge. That’s just reality. Whether it’s a short walk, brief nap, meditation or 5 -15 minutes of some other mental diversion, the idea is to take your mind completely off your project before coming back to it or moving one to the next one.
- “If I could do life over again I’d….”: This utilizes reverse scheduling and comes from Dr. Viktor E. Frankl. He used this approach to help his client’s lead more meaningful lives by putting a reminder in up front about what was most important so that they didn’t get sabotaged by the whirlwind or daily-urgent. It seems to work well here too.
- “Things I get to enjoy today….”: This part is based on Dr. Neil Flore’s work on procrastination. The bottom-line is that when we know ahead of time that we have something to look forward to and enjoy, we get off the dime quicker and get stuff done. Intentionally putting that principle to work for you at the beginning when you plan your day helps you leverage it in a practical way.
- Appointments: nothing new here
- To-do: Not a lot new here either. The key difference is that this part is done at the end vs the beginning. Because the most important things in my day have already been laid out, I’m able to identify the 3-4 “must do” whirlwind items that need my attention the most. Before, I’d get faked out by 10-15+ things screaming for my attention when in reality the number of things that really had to get done was much fewer.
- My life theme: this is the last section and a great way to filter and decide whether the day you’ve now laid out is one that fits with what you’re most about. If not, you may want to revisit your project or task list to see if it’s something you could let go.
For me, the “Life lived over”; “Things I get to enjoy” and Life theme sections were unique and ones that give me the most lift. The other was putting down how much time I spent on something vs blocking time and getting all I could in during that time. Paradoxically, I get more done in a shorter period of time with this system.
Keep in mind that this approach is geared toward and works best for people who need to manage their own time. The beauty is that if you’re a clinician or have a keep fairly set schedule of appointments, this approach can still be a useful tool on project days when you do have to manage your own time.
Starting off your day and aligning your focus as well as your state using this simple, 1-page evidence-based tool can help you be consistently more productive with your priorities and enjoy life more. How? By harnessing your emotions, psychology and focus so you can accomplish what matters most.
How simple and effective is your current method for planning your day and getting stuff done? If you don’t like your answer, I’d highly encourage you to give Don Miller’s a try…at least for 30 days.
If you decide to give it a whirl, leave a comment about what you experience. I’d love to know how it goes for you.