Article written by Harry Welby-Cooke, (ActionCOACH Country Partner)
Like it or not, there are very few secrets left in the world. Google has already, for free, provided us with all the answers human beings know. So, why then are some people a lot more productive, and dare I say, a lot more successful too?
These ‘7 Secrets of the Most Productive People’ are already quite freely available. Less popular though, and much more critical, is actually following the advice and implementing these secrets. Knowing isn’t enough and doing therefore becomes a much more important part of your success.
From experience though, I thought I’d share a summary of what we as ActionCOACH business coaches see as being critical success factors across our team of business coaches and their entrepreneurial clients. To get these secrets to work best for you try this: Read, nod, take action and repeat!
1. When not in doubt: focus
The jokes between men and women, as to who are better at multitasking, are always very entertaining. The brain is however wired to focus and is in fact not that great at multitasking irrespective of your sex. The more you simplify and focus the better your results. In Gary Keller’s book ‘The One Thing’, he talks about finding the right one thing to focus on and then sticking with it until achieved. Rather take a little longer to find your one thing and then go after it relentlessly once you find it. Going after that one thing often automatically ensures a whole lot of other things get done.
2. Schedule everything, including distractions, free time, important things and even less important things
When something is scheduled it generally gets done. For most of us our childhood was the most free period of our lives. An interesting recollection when you think that we woke up, ate, dressed, played, studied, bathed, slept and so on all at the same time literally every single day. The schedule created our freedom and because we didn’t need to think about what was important, all the important things got done. We call it a default diary. What is the default day, week and month you need to have to succeed. Once you’ve planned it out, all you need to do is follow it religiously like when you were a kid – without thinking.
3. Work-life balance doesn’t exist in the short-term
It’s humanly impossible to fit everything we need to do, want to do and are supposed to do, in the space of 24 hours. There are simply just not enough hours to fit it all in. A week is not great either and neither is a month. However over a quarter we can probably get our work-life balance spot on. We might counter balance towards extra hours on a project at the start of a quarter, rebalance towards family and personal time in the middle and end up with health and fitness towards the end. Over the period we therefore easily create the balance we need but definitely not in the immediate term.
4. Create space for supposedly unproductive things like thinking, questioning, reflecting and planning.
Yes they are actually productive but by nature, they’re not urgent. They can often even be seen as not doing anything. Business is not spelt busyness. Boomers thrive on hard work and instilled a sense of busyness in the Gen Xers. Gen Y and Millennials have a different default. These are all just generational conditioning. It’s okay to have free time for stuff. It’s okay if outside people think you’re not being productive whilst you’re actually taking time out to think, question, reflect, plan, meditate, invest in yourself, take time out with loved ones and so forth. It’s really okay. Get used to it and stop worrying about what other people are thinking.
5. Know what you really want and what’s really important to you
It’s much easier to commit to what’s really important when you know what it actually is. Sounds simple I know but the danger is we often see our list of priorities or to-do list items as all having the same importance. Worse yet, we’ll quickly tick off the less important items (read easier and quicker to do) than commit to the important ones (read harder and takes longer). Find out what is truly important to you and the less important distractions will easily disappear into the background.
Understand the impact of investing across mind, body and spirit
We are human beings after all and not human doings. Without the due investment into our own minds, our bodies and our spirits; we cannot sustain periods of productivity. In their absence, distractions and self-sabotage prevail. Ensure a multi-faceted approach to goals, setting priorities, plans and schedules. Make sure you’re investing in yourself across the spectrum and you’ll find much more energy, resilience and focus to be productive.
What are you measuring?
When you try to lose weight it’s easy to get on the scale and check your progress. When you don’t like the progress, and what the scale is telling you, it’s just as easy to stop getting on the scale. However if you persist with the measurement (i.e. getting on the scale) you can’t help but start to influence whatever is necessary to change what the measurement is saying. In the same way, check what you’re measuring and start to implement the right measurements to track. Commit to the regular measurement as a start and over time your actions will start to influence the changes you need to affect a different measurement.
So to recap remember:
To get these seven secrets to work best for you try this: Read, nod, take action and repeat! Soon these secrets become habits which then lead to your success. Get going today! It’s called ActionCOACH for a reason.
If you need a little help or maybe just a push in the right direction, we know a few world-class business coaches that can assist. Find your ActionCOACH Business Coach here.