"How the hell does he have the time to do it all?"
...You think to yourself as he mentions he has started his third business and begun coaching his son's soccer team.
He doesn't have more time in the day than you. Everyone on Earth gets 24 hours. It's an even playing field.
His only secret is he knows how to use his time better. He is more productive.
Productivity is a hot topic as if we could all get more done in less time, well, we'd get even more done. Or at least have time left over for ourselves. Unfortunately, productivity isn't a skill taught in school or even university. We are left to figure it out on our own.
Or, instead of figuring it out, you would rather learn how others do it, read on.
Below are four proven methods of productivity which have been passed down through generations of millionaires and high-performers.
Choose which suit you best, implement them and watch your 'getting-stuff-done-ness' soar.
The Ivy Lee Method.
In 1918, Charles Schwab, one of the richest men in the world at the time, wanted to maximise efficiency within his business.
He reached out to a highly-respected productivity consultant named Ivy Lee.
Schwab brought Lee into his office and said, “Show me a way to get more things done.”
“Give me 15 minutes with each of your executives,” Lee replied.
“How much will it cost me,” Schwab asked.
“Nothing,” Lee said. “Unless it works. After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it's worth to you.”
During his 15 minutes with each executive, Lee explained his simple method for achieving peak productivity:
1. At the end of each work day write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
4. Work down your list. Any unfinished tasks get moved to tomorrow’s list, still ranked in importance.
Repeat this process every working day.
The strategy sounded simple, but Schwab and his executive team gave it a try. After three months, Schwab was so delighted with the progress his company had made that he called Lee into his office and wrote him a check for $25,000 (which is $400,000+ in today’s dollar).
Do the most important thing first each day and use this method. It’s worth over $400,000.
The Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro technique, developed in the 1980s, is named after a tomato thanks to its Italian inventor.
It uses a timer to break down work into short intervals of 25 minutes, separated by short breaks.
The goal of the technique is to reduce the impact of internal and external interruptions on focus and flow.
It works like this:
1. Decide on the task to be done.
2. Set the Pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
3. Work on the task with complete focus until the timer rings. Do not allow for any distractions.
4. When the timer finishes, take a short break (5 minutes), then repeat
5. After four Pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes).
I'm a massive fan of the method and use it regularly (such as right now). The time is fairly short so it allows full focus without getting distracted. There's a bit of research behind 25-minutes being the optimal length for the brain to devote complete focus to a task without slowing down.
Another bonus of the method is that it fights Parkinson's Law.
"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion".
When you have all day to do a task, it will take all day.
When you've only got 25-minutes, you get it done in 25-minutes.
More done, less time.
The Seinfeld Method - don't break the chain!
Jerry Seinfeld is one of our greatest ever comedians. There's a reason for that.
He never went a day without working on his craft.
At the start of each year, Seinfeld puts up a year-long calendar on his wall. Each day he writes new material he satisfies himself by putting a red 'X' on that day.
The idea was to never break the chain.
The method is ideal if you have a set goal. As you work on it each day your progress begins to build up. Small increments amount to massive changes when you step back and think long-term.
Some progress is always better than none. 1 is more than zero. You do something to get closer to your goal each and every day.
Fight procrastination with a 2-Minute Rule.
The 2-minute rule is more of a productivity 'hack', and the basis is simple.
If it will take less than 2-minutes, do it now.
It's surprising how many little things we let slip by to do later. Washing the dishes after eating, replying to a quick email or xx. If you procrastinate on these little tasks they begin to add up and eventually you're left with an overwhelming to-do list.
This method is straight from 'Getting Things Done' by David Allen (a great productivity book in itself).
Will a task take less than 2-minutes to complete?
Follow the rule and do it now.
These powerful methods have a few things in common.
They are simple enough to actually work which removes any friction from starting.
The power of meaningful work. They force you to make tough decisions on your priorities so the true work gets done.
They require you to single-task. By minimising distractions and having one set task you inherently ten-fold your focus.
They focus on day-to-day actions to bring about great long-term results. This is summarised by the saying "micro speed, macro patience."
Each method on its own can increase your productivity. Used together, you'll become a force to be reckoned with.
Get more done in less time so you can spend more of your precious seconds with the people you love. Time is the only thing you can never get back, so make the most of it.