Do you often feel frustrated at the end of the day–like you’ve worked hard, long and fast–and yet it still doesn’t feel like you’ve done enough?
Believe it or not, one of the main culprits of that feeling is probably your ability to multi-task! In other words, one of the skills that you acquired as you’ve built and led companies over the years has now becoming one of your Achilles’ heels.
For years, you’ve probably prided yourself, like I have, on your ability to do a lot of things very fast and often at the same time. And chances are, the people around you have probably been in awe of that ability (which only made you feel better, didn’t it?).
However, you’re now the senior executive of a thriving business and what was once an asset, has now become a liability. The studies are clear, multi-tasking actually slows you down–it doesn’t speed you up. A classic example would be writing an important proposal (or letter or ad or …, you pick). You write paragraph one. Your Blackberry goes off (or your email program beeps). You look at it. Read it. Respond to it. Then back to the proposal. “Now, where was I?” So you go back and re-read the first paragraph. As you’re doing that, in walks your admin (or staff member, etc.). And so on. And so on. Right?
The proposal (or letter or ad or …) which should have taken a half hour to an hour to compose and get out the door, has now taken three hours–or even worse, didn’t get done because the only time you had available to do it was “eaten” up by other people and activities. You’ve been busy, but you haven’t been effective.
The number one quote that haunts me every day is from Alec McKenzie. “Nothing is easier than being busy, nothing more difficult than being effective.”
So, what’s the solution? The simple solution, which you probably already know, is to work in uninterrupted blocks of time. That may mean working at home or closing the door of your office (yes, it is okay to close your office door and not be accessible all the time) or, as I frequently have done, work at a restaurant like Panera Bread.
However, since I assume you already know that, I’d like to give you another idea that can help you actually do what you know you ought to do. At the end of every day, take five minutes (no more than seven) to answer three simple questions (and do this every day).
1. What did I do today?
2. What results did I achieve?
3. What progress did I make today on my needle movers for this month?
If you prefer, you can change the last phrase to “my top three (or, if you prefer, five) goals” or, “my strategic initiatives,” etc. But, personally, I love the phrase, “Needle movers,” from Christine Comaford. She defines a needle mover as a result that if you achieved it would radically change everything. For example, “Generate a 1,000 new leads this month.”
You determine the wording, but don’t you think that if you asked and answered those three questions every day for the next 30 days, that you would be infinitely more focused and productive? Absolutely! You’d be more focused on results than activity. And more importantly, you’d become incredibly focused on the three (to five) most important things that can move your business forward this month.
So, if you want to increase your productivity, why don’t you commit to asking these three questions at the end of each day. Then make sure you send me an email, 30 days from now, to share the results of what’s happened in your life and business because you asked these three questions.
To your accelerated success,
P.S. If you need help clarifying your needle movers and strategic initiatives, click here >>