Number One – Plan in advance. Have tomorrow’s plan tonight before you go to bed. Write your ‘must do’ projects that can be accomplished tomorrow. These do not have to be completed projects, but something that you know if you dedicated your mind, your energy and your time, you would accomplish it. Make sure you allocate time to your schedule tomorrow to achieve your three projects.
Number Two – Sleep on it. Visualize while you are going to sleep exactly what you want to do on the highest priority project. Clearly see what needs to be done. In your mind’s eye, visibly see the completion of that project. Feel the joy of completing it. In the present tense, positive words, tell yourself that you are completing that project no matter what.
Number Three – Designate your time as ‘No Distraction Zone.’ Let those who are most likely to interrupt you, know that you are working on something very important for the next little bit and you would appreciate minimal interruptions.
Number Four – Turn on your ‘Cone of Silence.’ Get Smart, the old television comedy had Maxwell Smart and the Chief getting close together in the Chief’s office. The ‘cone of silence’ would descend from the ceiling and envelope them. It eliminated anyone from hearing what they were saying and kept them from hearing what was going on outside the cone of silence. Leave your phone in another room or turn in to mute/silent. Close the door to reduce background noise.
Number Five – Prepare your work area before you start. I don’t mean to clean up all the clutter in your office or on your desk. Clean away a portion that you need to work. You are eliminating additional items from your distraction-free zone. This preparation should not take more than two or three minutes.
Number Six – Make a promise. A promise is more emotionally attached to your subconscious mind than simply setting a goal. When you say, “I promise to spend the next 90 minutes working diligently and purposely on completing this project.” You are telling your subconscious mind that this is not something you’ve done in the past. You are telling your subconscious mind that this is really important to your and must be done.
Number Seven – Be punctual, start on time. If this were an IRS appointment or a job interview – you would be there on time. If you scheduled yourself to start at 6:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m., start when the clock rolls past the start time. Don’t be late. This is important. You are telling your subconscious mind that time matters.
Number Eight – Begin working on your number one project during your most productive time. If you are a morning person, begin working on it in the morning. If you are better after lunch or dinner, plan accordingly and dedicate yourself to work on the highest priority – not the most difficult – at your personal best time of the day.
Number Nine – Start the clock when you start your project. Use your alarm clock, watch, telephone, etc. to coincide with the end of your planned work period. If you are going to work for 90 minutes on your number one project – set the alarm to go off in 90 minutes. Now you have a reminder that your predicted time in up for that task.
Number Ten – Relax for one to two minutes every thirty minutes. Close your eyes, relax your shoulders, lean back a little, and mentally release the tension in your body. Let it ebb from your head to your feet. Feel it flow away from you. Think about how good it feels that you have been really productive for the past thirty minutes. Breathe deeply and hold it for ten or fifteen seconds. Let it out completely and hold your breath again for ten seconds or so.
Number Eleven – Stop when your time is up. We all know that our predicted finish time is based on many factors. It’s a ‘best guess’ for most of us. If you are done early – great! If you are 80% when the alarm goes off, then you have a decision to make – continue to finish; or, begin project number two. Only you can make that decision.
Number Twelve – Assess what you’ve done. Did you complete it on time? Was your time estimate realistic? Learn as much as you can from what you’ve done – what worked and what didn’t. Use that information when planning tomorrow’s projects.
My old Geometry teacher used to tell us, “Mathematics is nothing but a bunch of tricks – the more tricks you know the better you are.” The same can be said for many other areas of our life. Productivity can be supercharged by knowing lots of tricks and doing them.