From Pharrell Williams to Sir Richard Branson, there’s both an art and a science behind the productivity of the world’s most successful people. The truth is, there’s a science to getting into a flow, producing more output per every unit of your input and optimizing your calendar. You’ve had those weeks where you seem to be knocking meetings out of the park, your projects are all in on time, and you can’t wipe that silly grin off your face. You’ve also had other weeks where doing one task seems like the hardest, most boring job in the world where you are disengaged during meetings and frankly, you’re tired.
How can we create more of the good weeks so that we can live more good days? Here’s a list of 10 ways to accomplish more, with perspectives from top authors, CEOs, and coaches:
1. Define success.
“An entrepreneur’s ultimate task is to define success in term of results desired – number of customers, revenue, and profit. Without goals, there is no productivity to measure.” ― Forbes’ Martin Zwilling
2. Set a time to target completion.
“Most of us entrepreneurs have a habit of working on stuff WAY longer than we need to. We spend days, weeks, and months slaving over our creations. Why? Because we forget about our trusty little friend, Parkinson’s Law. This law states that work expands to fill the time allotted. […] Here’s the deal. When you’re up against a wall to complete a task, your genius gets focused like a laser beam. Metaphorically, you Rock-the-Casbah. All that juicy, delicious and magical creativity inside you funnels directly into the task at hand. Bottom line? We can all get things done in MUCH less time than we think ― and do a damn good job to boot.” ― Marie Forleo, business strategist
3. Schedule down time.
“In his program, entrepreneurs create a new calendar in which their weeks are broken down into ‘free days,’ when no work or checking in to e-mail or the office is allowed; ‘buffer days,’ for planning and preparation; and ‘focus days,’ for high-value, goal-oriented practices. It can be shock treatment for folks who haven’t had a day off in months or a vacation in years.” ― Entrepreneur on Dan Sullivan, Co-Founder of Strategic Coach.
4. Remember your goals.
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” ― Joseph Campbell, mythologist, writer, and lecturer
“The productiveness of any meeting depends on the advance thought given the agenda, and you should never leave a meeting without writing a follow-up list with each item assigned to one person.” ― Barbara Corcoran, founder of Corcoran Group
“If you don’t decide what needs to be done about your secretary’s birthday, because it’s ‘not that important’ right now, that open loop will take up energy and prevent you from having a totally effective, clear focus on what is important.” ― David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
7. Address issues one at a time.
“If you can, be brave… give them your title ― and step aside. Then you can start thinking about the bigger picture.” ― Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group
8. Free your mind.
“Williams is a fan of what he calls tapping in: being open to the kinds of peripheral ideas that lead to innovation. It requires an environment that permits fixation—the antithesis of multitasking ― so that you have the ability to, as he puts it, ‘be quiet and absorb.’” ― Fast Company on singer-songwriter, rapper, record producer, and fashion designer Pharrell Williams
9. Unplug periodically.
“Put together [a] program of ‘boosts,’ which include daily breaks (walking meetings, lunch with a friend, a swim); unplugged weekend activities, such as hiking or driving with family and friends; and home activities, such as cooking, that relieve stress.” ― Entrepreneur on Saurabh Bhatia, Co-Founder of Vdopia
10. Know when to stop working.
Leaving the work at work is one of the most important recovery strategies ― and the hardest. If you’re still obsessing about work when you’re off the job, no recovery can take place. Detaching from work with diversions at night reduces fatigue and promotes positive effects the next morning at work. ― Entrepreneur’s Joe Robinson
To summarize Steve Chandler’s book, The Time Warrior: there is no such thing as a time management problem. Time management problems are just fear and indecision problems in disguise.