Friday, August 24, 2012

Six Ways to Build a Productive Day

Monitoring and Control project activities
Monitoring and Control project activities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Les Taylor

Believe it or not, it takes just as much work to have a productive day as it does to have an unproductive one.

The difference lies in being able to take charge of your day, instead of having your day take charge of you.

Here are six ways to make tomorrow more productive than today:

Begin Your Day with the Right Mindset

There are two times of the day when you have absolute control of what you'll be doing: the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Don't, I repeat, don't start your day listening to, watching, or reading the news. The media is not interested in helping you get your day off to a positive start - quite the opposite.

Don't start your day on a negative note. In fact, don't end it that way either. Instead, start developing a library of books or CDs you can use to fill your mind with healthy, productive thoughts - instead of who released the most recent attack ad.

Begin Your Workday with a Purpose

Instead of heading off to work wishing you didn't have to, why not head to the office focused on how you can do something special, and contribute to the success of your company? After all, that's why the folks you work for hired you. They believed, and you probably worked hard to convince them, you were the right person for the job.

Well, if that's the case - and it probably is - make your eight hours count for something. Today is your opportunity to accomplish great things. Yesterday is history and you have no guarantee that tomorrow will come. Make today count!

Use Your Commute Wisely

Back to the idea that you have more control over your time that you might give yourself credit for, a 30-minute drive to and from work gives you the opportunity to get five more hours of positive and productive information into your brain - every week. That's almost one full workday of new learning you can use to contribute to your personal or professional development.

Do you think your competition is doing that? I don't. That's why I say it's easy to get to the top of your profession - by doing what unsuccessful folks aren't doing. You're creating the future you want because you're controlling the clock - not letting the clock control you, and you're controlling what you're thinking about.

Utilize 80/20 Time Management

Look, everyone has a lot to do. We're all busy, but don't fall into the trap of believing that being busy and being productive are the same thing. Here's the reality: 80 percent of your productivity comes from 20 percent of your activity. So, use the 80/20 rule as a time management tool. Twenty percent of an eight-hour day is 90 minutes.

My suggestion is to use those precious 90 minutes wisely. Set a 45-minute appointment with yourself in the morning, and another in the afternoon, to work only on your most important projects. Respect those two appointments as much as you would if they were appointments with your best customer or an important person in your company or industry.

The key to productivity is focus, and the best way to focus on those most important projects is to schedule time for your personal and professional success.

Be a Positive Influence - On Everyone

Do you like being around negative, sullen people? I didn't think so. Talk about an energy drain. Here's a formula that will help you stay positive throughout the day, it's E+R=O. That stands for Event + Response = Outcome.

The difference between a creative, positive outcome to (any) event - isn't the event itself - it's your RESPONSE to the event that will determine the outcome. You have no control over the attitudes and actions of others, but you do have control over yours. When you're negatively impacted by the foolish actions of someone else, control the controllable - your response. Make it a smart and responsible one. The next time you hear about a road rage incident on the evening news - think about E+R=O.

Bookend Your Day

As I said earlier, the first thing in the morning and the last few minutes before you hit the sack should be "controllable time." Start and end your day by controlling what goes into your mind. When you begin your day with positive and encouraging reading or listening material, you start the process of taking charge of your day.

When you close the day the same way, you set yourself up for a great night's rest. Another way to use those last few moments is to review the events of the day you've just experienced. Congratulate yourself for the accomplishments of the day but, more importantly, learn from those things that didn't turn out so well - and don't do them again.

Two of the keys to success and achievement are focus and discipline. Focus on those few things that matter most and then discipline yourself to control as much of your day as possible. Controlling your day means controlling your calendar.

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