Be More Productive Productivity By Quinn Eurich Are you a slave to your to-do list? Maybe your focus is on getting things done and you feel good about the check marks you’re racking up. Maybe you think it doesn’t matter what each item is or how you feel about what you’re doing because all that matters is working the list. If you work with to-do lists in this way, getting things done can feel like an up-hill battle. Why? Because you’re neglecting one of the main factors of productivity: your emotions. Emotions are the main driver of your productivity Think about it. One item on the list makes you grumpy. Then the next thing satisfies you. The third one frustrates you because it doesn’t go as planned. Or worse, you find yourself working on a chore that makes you miserable. So miserable that it colors your entire day so that even ticking off everything on your list can’t make you feel better. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can transform your to-do list into a smooth running vehicle that will drive your productivity up and escalate your accomplishments so that you’re more successful than ever! Let’s get started by looking at one of the barriers to your success. How to Adopt a Mindset of Success On the Net you can find thousands of productivity tips and books and I’m sure you’ve read a few. How many different tips, techniques, and ideas have you implemented but didn’t bother with for more than a few days? What do you want that these methods just don’t give you? Clarity about how tasks should fit together? Connectedness to the task you’re doing? The ability to bring your best self to important tasks? Clarity, connectedness, and consistency in being able to apply yourself are three attributes of a success mindset. They’re the essential pieces that are missing from most productivity methods. That’s because those methods aren’t geared toward helping you arrange your day to take advantage of your energetic highs and lows. They’ll certainly tell you to be mindful of them, or to lump similar tasks together. But they place the importance on the task – not you. Time for that to change! The Trick to Taming Your To-Do List with Ease This easy process begins with two standard items on any to-do list: the task, and the time allotted to the task. Nothing new there, but then for each task, it has you answering the question: What mindset do you need to accomplish the task? With your answers to that question, you transform your to-do list. It goes from being just a list that drags you along through your day to being a scheduling tool. It becomes a tool that helps you plan your day in a way that empowers you to optimize your success. And there’s more. But first, grab your to-do list, and let’s get started with what you have on the list for today. Step 1: Create three columns on a page. Whether you put it on your PC or simply handwrite it out – it doesn’t matter. Label the columns: To-Do Item, Time Required, Mindset Needed, and add your tasks to the first column. Step 2: Create your Mindset Needed by identifying the optimal frame of mind required to accomplish each task successfully. By identifying the mindsets you need for each item on your list, you’re taking the first step in how you look at what’s necessary to be successful. You don’t use the same mindset to do a budget as you do to write a memo, or create a sales presentation, code an application, or write a blog post. For example, my head needs to be in a specific place when I do online research. If not, I’ll just wander off task and skip over to Facebook, catch up on Twitter, and indulge myself in cute animal videos. Consider that each task is a different “game” you’re playing, and you need to “get your head in the game” for each one. Tip: since a lot of tasks are repetitive, make a list of them and their associated mindsets so that you can fill out this column easily tomorrow and each day after that. Increase Your Productivity Prioritizing tasks can be a frustrating process, and too often we just cram tasks in whenever we think we have time for them. Not any longer! Because this is all about your success, this step will help you decide how to put your day together. It will have you prioritizing – effortlessly. Step 3: Add the time requirements for each task, and organize your day. Time Requirements Consider removing from you to-do list any task that takes only a few minutes to accomplish. Ask yourself: Is this a task that needs to be on the list, or is it only here so I can rack up check marks? Unless you plan your day correctly, racking up check marks makes you less productive not more. That’s because it helps you procrastinate. If multiple short tasks need to be on the list, consider doing them just before you break for lunch, or at the end of the day. If a task will run over an hour, consider breaking it down into smaller segments of no more than 50 minutes each, with a 10- to 15-minute break. Sitting for extended periods of time is not good for you physically, and unless you’re in the groove and have one of those lovely flows going, it can drain you mentally as well. Prioritize your tasks by asking the following three questions: -Is this an upstream, downstream, or standalone task, i.e., does it have to be done before other tasks can begin, or must it wait until something else is done first? -How does it fit in with the other tasks I need to accomplish, i.e., time and mindset needed to work on it? -If I don’t feel it’s a good fit with the other tasks that need to be done today, when should I plan on doing it? Organize your day Based on your time requirements and mindsets, begin organizing your day. Would it be to your advantage to do tasks with the same mindset one after the other? Or would that drain your energy too much? What’s going to be the best way – and the best time of day to do specific tasks? Arrange your to-do list to optimize your energy and take advantage of your energetic peaks and valleys. Doing so will help you maintain good levels throughout your day. Create a Space for Success Here is the extra power you need to keep things running smoothly throughout your day. Every time you begin a new task that requires a new mindset, create a space for success. It’s a quick and easy technique to get your “head in the game.” ∗Begin by taking a few moments to pause and check in with yourself and what you’re experiencing. How are you feeling? What is your energy level? . ∗Don’t ignore or fight against what you’re feeling. Simply notice it, and accept how you feel at that moment. Take three slow, deep breaths to clear your mind. . ∗As you return to your regular breathing, think about the task you’re about to do. What kind of mindset do you need for it? How much time have you given yourself for the task? How do you feel about that amount of time? Is it okay, or does it need to change? . ∗When you’re ready to begin your task, imagine how you’ll feel while you’re doing it. See yourself being connected with the task and effortlessly completing it. . ∗When you’ve completed the task, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Congratulate yourself for a job well done and for setting yourself up for the success you just created. Reach New Heights of Success Imagine waking up and getting excited about what your day will be like. That’s what happens when you use this process. No longer letting it drag you from one task to another, you’re now taming your to-do list so that it supports the success you want to optimize. You’re in the driver’s seat of the smooth-running vehicle you’ve created. Naturally, you’ll face challenges throughout your day that will mess up your plans. The solution is using the Creating a Space for Success technique throughout your day. Your day may have taken you down a bumpy road, but with this technique, you’ll still be empowering yourself to take positive action. That’s what this process is all about, empowering you in an easy but effective way so that you’re ∗Transforming your static to-do list into a proactive tool engineering your success, . ∗Turbo-charging your productivity because you’ll have the right mindset for each task, . ∗Mindfully managing your tasks so that you can zip through smaller ones and not get overwhelmed by big ones, . ∗Bringing freshness and fun to your day because each task becomes a game, and most importantly, . ∗Honoring your processes by helping you plan a day that will have you moving from one success to another. Empowering isn’t it? So empower yourself, increase your productivity, and reach new heights of success! Why wait? Do it now!