I heard myself saying to my friend Carol, “I’ve just had a crazy day!”
I felt frazzled, worn out, and not feeling very confident that much got accomplished. Certainly, what I wanted to complete didn’t get done.
We’ve all had days like that, where there’s non-stop activity.
When you have one of those crazy days, is all that activity worth it? Are you doing things that matter?
I’m a student of high performance. I want my time spent to matter. And I want that for you too.
So I’ve studied efficiency, productivity, and high performance techniques over the years. Everything that has made sense to me, I’ve tried it.
After all of this online, book, and hands-on research, I’ve found two principles that have endured. They are behind most recommendations you’ll find in books and online. They’re behind every productive day I’ve ever spent.
These principles put the sanity and humanity back into what could be a crazy day.
To save you the time and effort of research and experimentation, I’d like to share them with you, and ask you to try them too. They’re pretty simple, and will make a big difference. Research indicates that your productivity will increase 30-50%.
Here are the two productivity principles found to be most effective:
Productivity Principle #1. Fill your cup.
No one keeps running on empty. You can’t give and give if you have no inner resources and supply to draw on. You’ll burn out.
If you replenish your energy on an ongoing basis, you can do what matters, every day.
Here are recommended ways to fill your cup:
- Drink lots of water.
Replenish the fluid lost during sleep and during the day.
Everything in your body is connected by fascia, connective tissue that stabilizes your tissue and organs. When it gets tight, as it inevitably does when you sit at your desk, it creates tension and even pain. It drains energy from your body. Stretching alleviates that.
Movement of some kind at intervals during the day is energizing. You’ll be surprised how much energy you generate by spending it first.
- Go within.
To have impact, that unique positive contribution that only you can make, you need to have access to your inner voice. Tap in to that voice through meditation, or some form of inner listening such as quiet time.
Start your day with these revitalizing activities, and do them periodically throughout the day.
I block off 50-70 minute blocks of uninterrupted work time, depending on the activity, and then take a 10 minute break. I’ll include some movement and stretching in that break time. My fascia are particularly tight, so I also get up to stretch every 15 minutes. That will help you too if you’ve been at your desk a long time.
Set a timer, so that you don’t get so engaged with what you’re doing that you forget.
Productivity Principle #2. Focus on your impact.
It’s so easy to get caught up in busywork, reacting rather than being mindful of the big picture. That’s usually what happens on one of those crazy days.
Instead, hold your impact, the difference you want to make, as your central focus.
Here’s how to do that:
- Keep the big picture in mind.
Every day, remind yourself of the impact you want to have. That will help you plan and make choices about your day that are in alignment with your impact.
- Plan every day with impact as your focus.
- The day before or first thing, plan your day. For each action you’re considering, ask yourself: Will this (planned activity) help me have the impact I want to have?
- Give your priorities priority.
It’s tempting to check emails or social media (or both!) before you launch into your day. I just want to see what I’m up against, you might say. The most productive people in the world avoid both emails and social media in the early part of their day. They don’t want to be distracted by what are essentially other people’s priorities.
When you do eventually check email, look first for emails from people who are providing something you need to move your priorities forward. If it’s not there, reach out to them first. Then you can move on to what others feel is important.
High performance is a matter of focus and energy. When you replenish energy, you can maintain focus on what’s impactful. That way, you’ll have your best day ever, every day.
Your time matters. Your impact matters. Rather than spending your day with busy work, focus on your impact. Keep filling your cup so you can continue to do just that.