The other day, one of my great friends said…
“I know my biggest challenge is productivity. I feel overwhelmed with life, work, my clients, appointments, pets, looking for a vehicle. How do you do it?”
The first words that came to my mind.
I have no idea and many times, I feel this exact way.
Seriously though, is anyone of us totally exempt from feeling this way from time to time?
Sometimes the “to do list” in my head feels a million miles long and if I try to mentally process it all at once, my soul just wants to throw it’s hands up in the air and scream… AHHHHH!”
In the last year, I’ve played a key role in starting and leading a company, developing 2 comprehensive educational courses, launching a new network marketing project, flipping a house, subdividing a property all while striving to be a good dad, husband and friend.
I say this not to impress but to express that I am no stranger to overwhelm.
Here are the 3 biggest principles that have helped and continue to help me move forward.
One of my favorite quotes on leadership comes from the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People…
“The leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells, ‘Wrong jungle!'”
There are probably several great lessons to be drawn from this quote but the one that’s most relevant to this topic of overwhelm is the fact that often times, there are trees on our list that shouldn’t be climbed at all.
Management is doing things right, and leadership is doing the right things.
If we subscribe to the 80/20 rule, we realize that most of the things on our lists, should not even be done.
Eliminate those and focus on the things we know are absolutely necessary to the achievement of our most precious goals.
Here’s a great question to ask in order to cut to what the heart of these essential activities are.
“What is the 1 thing I can do, that if done well, would make everything on this list easier or irrelevant?” (Thanks Tim Ferris)
This question applies to both goals and tasks.
For example, as a Freedom Crusader my #1 goal has been and still is financial freedom. (X amount of passive income from income producing assets that cover my families monthly expenses).
The achievement of this goal will instantly make all of my future business tasks easier or irrelevant.
In my life, this is the 1 goal (financially speaking) that matters most.
With this clarity, some of my other “goals” are automatically eliminated, freeing up much needed brain space to focus on this most important domino goal.
With this clarity of the destination that matters most, and a list of the things that must be done in order to reach that goal (and can’t be eliminated), the next step is prioritization.
We have a list of things in front of us.
The question now is, in what order must these things be done and do I have to do them or can I enlist the help of anyone else?
The one thing, question comes again, here to our aid.
Of this list of things that need to be done, what is the 1 thing that if done, will make all of the other tasks on this list easier or irrelevant?
1 great example of something here would be to outsource items on the list to others.
Maybe the kids can help with things around the house you didn’t realize they could help with before.
Maybe you can outsource some of your mundane business tasks…
Maybe you can hire a temp to complete a few of the tasks that need to be done.
These things are now off your plate.
ahhhhh, a breath of fresh air.
But what about the tasks that are left?
Do any of these tasks involve others counting on me for completion?
AKA – Deadlines attached?
These then, must take precedent over the others.
(Remember that we’ve established that these are things that must be done – they are not random things people want us to do that don’t contribute to our outcome.)
Lastly, are there items on this list that I can do now, without any further education?
Sometimes it’s good to just get to work and start checking these off the list because it gets you into action – which can start an avalanche of productivity flowing into all the other tasks.
The 3rd and final principle that has helped me tremendously is to RELEASE all of the unchecked items on the list from my mind.
Once I’ve identified the thing that needs to be done next, I strive to focus on that 1 thing with all my power of mind, while saving everything else on the list for later.
I noticed a few months back that when my mind was trying to think about all of the things that needed to be done, versus the 1 thing I could actually do in the moment, I became very stressed and overwhelmed.
Yes, you’ve heard it before…
“Eat the elephant 1 bite at a time.”
And while you’re eating the bite, forget about the rest of the elephant.
This can allow the current job to be done well, (preferable with joy) – saving the other items for their proper time and place.
I’m not productivity guru, but, these 3 ideas seem to have really helped me get through what could be quite possibly one of the most overwhelming times of my life.
Hope these tips have helped and would love to hear your best productivity tips below.
PS – The Jack Johnson station on Pandora has also been my relaxation therapist on many occasion. Time and time again I’ve tuned in and said to myself, “ahhhh, just what the Dr. Ordered. 🙂
PPS – Billionaire Richard Branson says his #1 productivity tip is to exercise. There are 2 things I do every morning without fail. These are non-negotiables for me. Read, and exercise. I really think those 2 things have helped me tremendously over the years.