It is rare these days to find someone in corporate and business life who is chilled and stress free. Everything is happening so quickly and it seems the harder we work and the more we cram into a day the further behind on our schedule we fall. I’m trying to find ways to become more productive so that I can work fewer hours, enjoy more time with my family and friends and reduce the stress created by knowing what I haven’t achieved today. It’s not happening but these suggestions by performance guru Graham Young may just be the answer to help me, and you, to stress less.
They are part of an expanded article published in entrepreneur.com entitled ‘5 Steps to Creating a Productive Mind’
1. REMEMBER YOUR BRAIN IS TRICKING YOU
When you plan your day, always remember that your brain is going to make you feel that you need to do more than is realistically possible. In the morning, remind yourself of this, take a step back, and take more time to assess your priorities. Choose three core priorities each day that you commit to completing. Of course, you will have other things to do, but everything else should come second to those three. It’s better to commit to three of your most important priorities each day and do them very well with all of your energy, than to set 10 priorities which you either miss or do poorly, stressing out in the process.
2. THE COMPOUND EFFECT
Throughout our lives, we’ve created a habit of taking on as much as we possibly can. So realize that doing a big one-day purge is not going to change things. It requires consistent action each day. To change our thought process, it requires us to consistently think in the opposite direction. A good way to do this is to start asking yourself each morning: “What is one thing I can take off my plate today?” Or as the Focus Funnel suggests, what can you eliminate, automate or delegate?
3. HOW TO SAY NO
Adopt the belief that always saying yes leads to stress. The reason we have a hard time saying no is because we fear letting others down and worry that we won’t be perceived as competent. So, we people please. Focus on the fact that you’re saying no to the task and not the actual person. Saying no to the work or task is a lot easier than saying no to a person. You can even clarify this with the person you’re interacting with so they feel better about the situation as well.
4. ADMIT THAT YOU ARE LIKELY BAD AT TIME ESTIMATION
One of the most powerful realizations I’ve had is that I am horrible at estimating the amount of time certain tasks will take. I almost always underestimate the time and overestimate my abilities. This often lead to me being late, behind schedule and disappointed. Understanding this has helped me plan my days more realistically and not cram a million things into each hour of the day. I always suggest adding on 15-30 minutes to your larger priorities for the day, just in case of overflow.
5. SCHEDULE A BUFFER ZONE
Every day should have a 30 minute to two-hour buffer zone to leave room for distractions, emergencies and unexpected meetings. Never schedule this block of time. But be sure to have a master list of your weekly priorities that you can choose from if this time never gets used.
To be successful, it’s important to make our dreams big, exciting and unrealistic. However, in order to get there, we need to plan each day as realistic as possible.