July 1, 2016
Too Busy to be Productive? Do it, Delegate it, or Forget it
If you google productivity tips, you will notice that the Internet is flooded with them. There are dozens of “experts” online that want to share the information that they have discovered – they make lists, articles, infographics, and more. They want you to know how to be productive. Unfortunately, these lists are packed with humdrum advice like: “Don’t watch so much TV!”; “Get up early, everyone works better first thing in the morning!”; “Don’t skip breakfast.” There are even apps for our phones to help us be more productive. Years ago a mentor told me that there are three things to do to be more productive: “do it, delegate it, or forget it.”
Being productive isn’t about working more hours. Being productive is about understanding how your mind thinks and how you can maximize the hours during which you work. I have noticed over the years that people often answer the question “how are you?” with an interesting response – busy. The context is normally “I’m” busy therefore I’m good or I’m important. I’m not so sure. Does being busy mean being productive? If you had lunch with a billionaire would they answer the similarly? I doubt it. I think there is a difference between being busy and being productive. Here is a look at what can make you more productive, and why it works.
For years, I have had a to-do list. Actually, I have had several of them. At the beginning of the week, I make a big list of everything that needs to be done throughout that week. This list is organized based on clients, but it’s not necessarily in chronological order. Meaning, if I started at the top and worked my way to the bottom, things would not get done by their deadline.
Every morning, or sometimes in the evening before calling it quits for the day, I make a smaller list on my phone. This list organizes, in chronological order, what I need to get done for that day plus a bit extra. I make a mark on my list that shows where I absolutely must get to for the day, and anything beyond that mark is a bonus.
Barring outside circumstances, I rarely miss my mark.
If you want to accomplish more than you thought possible, make a to-do list.
Many people believe that a to-do list isn’t necessary if you have a good memory. Why waste the time writing it down if you know you’re not going to forget? The reason is, it requires more than just being able to remember something.
Every duty that we perform is analyzed and categorized by our brain. Whether it is something as simple as closing the cupboard door or as complicated as designing a new rocket ship, our brain puts it into a category as “undone” until it is done – or until it can find a new place for it. When you have a lot of projects to tackle throughout the day, your brain is hanging onto each one of those projects, and subconsciously they are slowing you down.
When you make a to-do list, it takes the project away from being in limbo and puts it into a concrete status on your list. Now your brain won’t worry about it until it’s time to worry about it.
In today’s increasingly complex world, keeping up with everything is more and more of a challenge. Technology changes, tax law changes, investment options…… None of us know what we don’t know and further if we don’t know the right questions to ask we can’t possibly get the right answer. My advice is to surround yourself with a team of experts that are aligned with your goals, personality and vision.
Who needs to be on your team? The obvious ones are a CPA, an attorney, and maybe a handyman/handywoman to take care of your house (can be a very productive and stress reduction member of your team). I also believe you are more productive with a financial advisory team. Someone to help map your strategy, someone to help with the details and accountability, a team to help you know the options and think through them to maximize opportunities and minimize mistakes. We believe we have assembled such a team.
The old acronym of TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More – can be true if there is alignment. Most of us in our daily lives are running pretty fast and focused on what we do. It can be both productive and stress relieving to have the right team around you.
Pure and simple. If you decide to forget it, forget it. Don’t revisit the decision.
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