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The Golden Rule of True Productivity

A better mindset for getting work done

Many people easily confuse busy” and “productive.”

They occupy their time with too many things and end up doing nothing that really gets them closer to their goals.

Busy is time-consuming and stressful.

You simply can’t do it all and respond to everything and everyone.

Busy work makes you feel like you are moving quickly and being productive in the process. But in effect, you are not.

You are choosing quantity over quality; the worst thing you can do with your precious time.

Cramming as much work into the day as you can isn’t necessarily the best strategy for productivity.

Rushing through as many tasks as you can seem like the best thing to do but you could end up sacrificing your high-value goal.

Being productive doesn’t necessarily mean getting everything done

Time management is a qualitative lens instead of a quantitative one.

Quality over quantity is an age-old lesson that too many of us choose to ignore. It works in life and business.

“Quality time” rebuilds your fractured focus and stretches your attention span.

When you picture a productive day, what does it look like?

Most people face the same question everyday:

Should I focus on getting more done (quantity) or getting one thing one done (quality) better?

Doing one thing means not doing something else. And there is a big difference between the things that should be done and the things that must be done.

An empty inbox and a blank to-do list are not true indicators of your productivity levels.

Your time is limited. Doing everything is not an option.

In an era of extreme busyness, the only conceivable way to make the most of your time is to stop doing busy work.

What is the most efficient use of your time today?

That simple question can help you choose your most important things to focus on every day.

Making meaningful progress should always be the aim.

Without focus, you can quickly run out of steam because you are chasing too many things at a time.

We live in an “infinite world”, says Tony Crabbe, author of the book Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much.

There are always more incoming emails, more meetings, more things to read, more ideas, projects and work to follow up.

The result, inevitably, is feeling overwhelmed.

We’re finite human beings, with finite energy and abilities, attempting to get through an infinite amount. That never works. And it’s not sustainable.

Single task on purpose and block out the distractions.

Or better still, plan your reactions to other demands on your time at specific times if you can’t avoid them.

To increase your performance, compress your action

Concentration amplifies performance.

The beauty of single-tasking is that you can do packed compressed action in succession to boost your daily performance.

Write your MIT (most important thing) down and split it up into compressed actions. Identify and list the actions you need to take to achieve it.

Prioritise based on importance. Everything can’t be a top priority.

Divide your hours into compressed actions.

Find common patterns in tasks and set a work system that allows you to finish similar tasks in a single action.

You can allow 30, 40 or 60 minutes of time to focus on each compression.

The best time lapse I’ve found to be effective is 40 minutes. But stick to what works best for you.

Allow five or ten minutes between each compressed action.

Compressed action can have a significant effect on your results.

Key takeaway

If you want the absolute best chance to succeed at getting things done better, your approach should always be the same; focus on quality work.

This means recognizing that not all work matter equally.

Shifting from one task to another in rapid succession, with the aim to get more things done is not sustainable.

Focus on quality work that contributes to the bigger goal. Don’t compromise the quality of your work.

Prioritise your tasks and projects. Choose your actions and compress similar activities, setting a timer if necessary. Take breaks for mental recovery in between actions.

Get smart with your time.