Yet Another Article on Personal Productivity
My thoughts on personal productivity...Part 1
Ah yes, personal productivity. What is a lifestyle blog if it does not contain an article on the infamous, yet often misunderstood, topic of personal productivity? PP, as we will refer to personal productivity henceforth, is all the rage on the podcast and blog circuit, and one could argue has been in other content forms for quite some time. While certainly the literature on PP is saturated, I want to add a different, albeit perhaps controversial perspective on the subject, share my own personal system, and provide other general thoughts on the topic.
I have always been a student of PP subjects, and bought my first book on organization while still in high school. The concept of increasing output has always fascinated the competitor in me, whether for sport of professional purposes. Do more in less time...do even more in the same amount of time...do the most in more time, etc.. The giants throughout history have been prolific in their output, and my love of history has helped drive my quest for greater PP. Consider that the complete Thomas Jefferson collection from the Library of Congress contains nearly 27,000 documents. I certainly have a long way to go to match the output of my neighbor!
Since my senior year of high school I have bought countless books and audio books on the subject, have devoured the blog posts and podcasts, and have followed with great interest the productivity gurus on Twitter and other social media platforms. I will certainly continue to do all of the above as I continue to master PP. David Allen, Bob Pozen, Brian Tracy, Tom Peters, Ari Meisel, Dave Asprey, Brendon Burchard, Tim Ferriss...the list goes on. Extreme Productivity by Bob Pozen is the most comprehensive look at productivity and my favorite I have read personally. I appreciate that Pozen branches off into such topics as public speaking and business writing in his all-encompassing approach.
While these and other experts have certainly earned their status as the kings of PP, in all my years of reading and researching I have to wonder...Have we made PP into something more complicated than it needs to be? Consider that Extreme Productivity is 300+ pages and David Allen's epic Getting Things Done comes in at 260 pages. While these books are aimed at the executive level crowd, what can the average college student or more specifically the women I coach at Liberty take away from these works? How can we simplify without losing the message? Can we? Should we?
I am convinced that yes, we can simply PP, we should, and I am firm believer that the desire to do more and do it better is far more important than the system. Extreme Productivity and Getting Things Done offer terrific systems to achieve PP...But what good is the best system if desire and motivation are not at the ground level?
My personal definition of PP:
- Have the ability to clearly define goals, objectives, and responsibilities
- Have the ability to optimize the process needed to achieve the aforementioned targets
- Have the diligence, discipline, and focus to work the process, while limiting or even eliminating distractions
My personal productivity system:
- Set goals, identify life responsibilities, decide the objectives required for successful completion
- Make a checklist the night before
- Do it the next day!!
And that is it. Can it really be that simple? Yes, I believe it can be that simple. What do you desire? What do you need to do? What are your life responsibilities? What daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals do you have? Identify what you need to do accomplish said goals. Make a checklist, preferably the night before, and then simply do it. I do not believe it needs to be any more complicated than a few simple questions, a checklist, and the discipline to check every item off the list, day after day after day.
There are some productivity gurus who do not believe in the power of the checklist...to them and others who feel the same, I wholeheartedly recommend The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. Read it and you will rarely go through another day without a checklist (HINT: there is a reason the FAA requires checklists for pilots).
As for the third step, doing it, desire and discipline are must haves. We are reminded of the words of the great Napoleon Hill when he said "Desire is the starting point of all achievement." We all know the Nike approach...Just Do It. Pretty simple. If you are looking for a bit more, see the last few minutes of this speech by the infamous Art Williams. The insurance professionals will remember this one. Again, the concept is pretty simple. Do it, and do it, and do it!
- Keep it simple
- PP starts with desire
- Desire > system
- Set goals and identify the objectives needed to achieve said goals
- Make a checklist
- Do it!!
- Repeat daily
In part II I will identify a few advanced concepts that help me set goals, identify objectives, formulate my checklists, and that allow me the discipline, dedication, and endurance to complete the tasks.