We can all agree that there never seems to be enough time to get everything we want to do… done. After years of making lists and checking off boxes I’ve accepted that there is no DONE, instead there is PROGRESS. Since this realization I have been on a quest for becoming more efficient, effective, and productive with my time because quite honestly what you prioritize gets completed and what you don’t prioritize does not. It’s not rocket science it’s basic human behavior whether you are aware of it or not.
This is one reason I’ve made a conscious effort to eliminate the word “busy” from my vocabulary, it’s overused and underwhelming… what does it even mean to be busy anymore? When I can’t do something it really comes down to I don’t want to do that thing at that time or better said there is something else that is of greater priority. When we start to look at our tasks as priorities then our life takes on a whole new meaning of purpose and presence. In order to get what you want you must make the tasks that will get you there a priority and be present in every moment, if you’re lingering in the past or the future then it’s impossible to deliver on your priorities right now. Being aware of this distinction between busy and priorities has been a huge first step for me… but it’s meaningless unless put into action.
What are your priorities?
At first glance this question appears to be a simple one but as you start answering it you may notice a list of 100 items magically appear on your paper. Everything from posting on facebook to picking up kids finds its way on the list, which is where ‘overwhelm” and “busy” begin to take over, starting a vicious cycle of procrastination or productivity paralysis. I’ve been there and to be honest still am there at times. I’ve yet to launch a podcast that I started working on almost a year ago… is it a priority? Yes, of course. But so were the other things on my daily to do list. As I look back I can see now that in trying to juggle all of my tasks on the priority list, they all fell of the priority list. Nothing got done except a feeling of failure.
So, what to do? Take 3.
At the beginning of this year I started using the 5 Minute Journal (definitely recommend it), one of the questions asks “What would make today great?” prompting you to list out 3 things. These didn’t have to be work related, they could be anything from exercise to eating. As long as I got those 3 things done my day would be great! The go getter in me wanted to list out 5 or 10 things but I stuck to the rules. Over the weeks I noticed a shift, my days began to feel more complete and purposeful.
In my quest for becoming more productive I have purchased countless apps, calendars, and organizers all of which seemed too complicated and left me overwhelmed, I wanted something SUPER SIMPLE. And then it hit me… What if I only prioritized 3 tasks everyday, thats it. This isn’t an original idea, some of the most successful people have this figured out, but it was new for me and so far it’s been working quite well. I’ve moved items off my to do list that have been sitting there for weeks.
I’m sure you’re wondering – Is there an app for it? I was wondering the same thing and the answer is yes, there are quite a few apps – told you it wasn’t an original idea. My basic criteria in finding an app to use is that it be very simple, the one I’m trying out right now is called Three Things, so far so good except that it doesn’t store your data which caused a little bit of anxiety for me at first. I’ll write up a review once I’ve used it for a couple weeks.
There’s always good ol’ paper and pen as well if you like that tactile feedback of writing things down. Regardless of format, the most important thing is to only write down 3 priorities for the day and then do those, once done allow yourself to feel a sense of accomplishment and know that you are making small shifts towards transforming your life.
As always try it out for yourself and report back, what other productivity hacks do you have? Post to comments…