A few years ago, Kevin Kruse made a key discovery while researching and writing his book, 15 Secrets Highly Successful People Know About Time Management.
His interviews with hundreds of high-powered entrepreneurs, authors, celebrities, athletes, and business gurus all boiled down to this: highly successful people don’t think about time much at all. Instead, they think about the values, priorities, and consistent habits that will boost their productivity.
This makes sense. I mean, all I have to do is think of the weekends I've spent binge-watching Netflix to know that a big time investment doesn't always translate into high productivity.
Rather, productivity is about energy and focus.
The energy part is why stress management experts put great emphasis on self-care. Eating right, exercising, and getting enough rest at night are all ways to fill up your tank so that you have energy to do what you need to do.
Focus is about strategically planning how you and I will spend our precious resource of time.
Below, you will find a simple strategic plan with three parts.
To boost your productivity, FOCUS on 3 areas.
FOCUS on your WHY.
What is your vision for your life and career? What will you do today that will support that vision? What is the driving force behind who you are and what you want to do? What will you do today to fuel that force? What values are important to you to uphold?
FOCUS on your WHAT.
How do you want to make a difference? What is your mission or purpose? What will you do today to serve that mission or purpose? Looking back at the end of your career and life, what are the most important things you want to accomplish?
FOCUS on your HOW.
How will you best accomplish your goals? And how will you measure the success of those goals - in other words, how will you know when you have accomplished what you've set out to do?
How are you going to focus on your unique talents and skills that will give the greatest return on your investment of time and energy into these tasks?
How will other people help you on this journey – What key relationships do you need to form and cultivate?
How will you continue to professionally and personally develop yourself over time? How will you strive to constantly improve?
What S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable and time sensitive) goals will you use to achieve your mission or purpose?
Here's a simple example: to boost work productivity, you may wish to increase your sales by 30% over the next six months. Your goal of 30% is both specific and measurable, and you have also given yourself a time deadline of six months.
Now, what are some reasonable, action steps to reach your goal? What resources and training may you want or need? What skills might need updating? What tools will you leverage? How will you structure your work day to maximize success? Who can help and how?
Summary & Conclusion
Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” The focus, then, is not the time spent on a task, but the most productive use of time.
Focusing on the "why," "what," and "how" of our efforts is a powerful way to boost productivity and help us focus on what is most important.