A quick google of ‘productivity’ will lead you to an overwhelming avalanche of tips, tricks, hacks, and methods.
But what really works? What methods are tried and tested? What could you implement to improve your day to create some more time?
In celebration of World Productivity Day recently (20 June) we spoke to Walsh Accountants’ Director Tom Walsh to ask him about the productivity tips that help make his day.
The To Do list
Tom credits writing detailed to-do lists using an online application called Asana. All tasks are given a due date and this list is then printed to form the daily to do list. This is a key process in ensuring his day is kept on task and as productive as possible.
There is considerable research behind this practice with the most well-known being the Ivy Lee Method.
Ivy Lee, a productivity consultant, most famous for offering Charles Schwab, one of the richest men in the world at the time, and his executives, his services for free unless it added value, then he requested that he could be paid whatever Mr Schwab felt it was worth.
The story goes that Ivy Lee only spent 15 mins with the executives and explained a simple yet powerful method for achieving peak productivity.
- At the end of each day, write down the 6 most important tasks that you need to accomplish the following day.
- Order these tasks in importance.
- The following day – immediately focus on your first task and work until it is complete. Once the first task is completely finished, then and only then, move onto the second task and so on.
- At the end of the day, any unfinished tasks can be moved to a new list for the following day and re-prioritised.
- Repeat every day.
Charles Schwab was so impressed with the results that after 3 months he wrote Ivy Lee a cheque for $25,000. Given that $25,000 in 1918 is worth over $400,000 today, it’s not bad for a 15 minute presentation.
Eat the frog
This tip is based on a theory from international bestselling author Brian Tracey.
What is the meaning of ‘eat the frog’?
The frog is that one thing you have on your to-do list that you have absolutely no motivation to do and that you’re most likely to procrastinate on. Eating the frog means to just do it, otherwise the frog will eat you, meaning that you’ll end up procrastinating it the whole day.
It’s unlikely there will be enough time in your day for everything on your ‘To Do’ list. Eating the frog ensures you focus on the most important tasks and make sure they get done first.
Block time for the most important tasks
If you are too busy with running a business and the distractions of life to focus on your important tasks, then you are spending too much time on the unimportant tasks, simply because they interrupt you.
Even if you have set your ‘Ivy Lee To Do List’, if you let the calls, emails and interruptions drain you of your time and energy, you will not achieve what you have decided is important.
By blocking time for your most important tasks, putting the phone on silent and closing your emails, you prevent interruptions and potential multi-tasking from controlling your time and you can focus on your most important tasks – which is getting items off you to-do list.
Does this mean that you should work in an opaque sound-proof bubble? Absolutely not – but when a critical priority task needs completing – the most productive way to handle it is to minimise the possibility of interruptions to get important tasks done.
Out of the thousands of methods that could help improve your productivity, the best method is still up for debate. However, the BEST method will always be the one that you will consistently apply – they only work if you work them.