Even if you’ve abandoned your resolutions already, you can still do things to make your days more productive. The best time to begin is at the beginning—of each day.
5 Steps to Making Your Day More Productive
By Michael Wayne
By now, you’re either still holding strong to your New Year’s resolutions or you’ve convinced yourself that you’re just taking a short hiatus from them. If you’re part of the latter group, the percentages say it would be best to consider 2019 a loss and begin planning for 2020. With 11 months left to go, however, I’m advocating that you not give in to the percentages. Think of this as your after New Year’s mulligan.
Whenever I start a new routine, my wife is quick to remind me that it takes 21 days to form a habit. I’m equally quick to restrain myself from correcting her about this myth. The three-week formula to success is actually a bastardization of Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s work regarding self-image that stipulates it takes “a minimum of about 21 days.”
Regardless, my hope is that even if you have abandoned your set resolutions already, you will follow a few steps to make your days more productive. There is no better way to do that than to start at the very beginning of each day. So, good morning!
STEP 1: Attitude is everything.
Your approach to your day will dictate your day. If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, do what you can to move over to the other side before you begin thinking about what’s on your calendar or to-do list. Nothing will kill your work’s quality faster than a poor attitude.
On the bright side, you control your mentality. You have the ability, once you recognize that you are not in the best frame of mind to succeed, to do something about it. When you become aware that negativity exists, you can get rid of it. In some cases, it may mean hopping back under the covers and starting over by literally getting up on the right side of the bed.
STEP 2: Keep your goals in sight.
It’s one thing to have your goals in mind; it’s also easy for them to get lost there. As the expression goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” To that end, make certain you can see your short- and long-term goals daily. Keeping your priorities for the week, the month, the quarter, the year, and beyond right in front of you where you are reminded of them constantly will help you to stay on top of them and stay on target.
STEP 3: Improve on what you did the day before
Success is hardly an instant proposition. Ask any “overnight success” their secret and there is a great chance you will be regaled with an epic tale of hard work, preparation, and opportunity as opposed to blind luck. Success, for the most part, is a process. Make this one yours: How did I do this yesterday, and what can I do to improve it?
Don’t ask yourself that question for everything you did the day before. Pick one task—one thing you want to get better at. Over the course of a year, you’ll have made 365 small improvements that cumulatively add up to a lot of change and betterment.
STEP 4: Tackle the most meaningful task first.
Think about how you prioritize. Do you devote 30 minutes to email first thing, return phone calls for the next hour, and then call on prospects after that every day? Do you have a rigid routine that dictates what you will be focused on at 8:45 a.m.? Why?
Your resources—time, energy, desire, etc.—are limited. Structure is great as long as it isn’t so restrictive that it prevents success. If you are going to set a routine, doesn’t it make the most sense to concentrate on accomplishing what will be most beneficial first? That’s not to say you should drop and forsake everything else to accomplish a long-term project. You can, however, take on a part of that project to get you started before moving on to more mundane tasks for the remainder of the day.
STEP 5: Challenge Yourself to Finish What’s on Your Plate
Once you have prioritized what you need to do and have your tasks outlined properly, how do you make sure you accomplish them? If you find yourself allowing critical tasks to move past their deadlines without getting done, start challenging yourself to get them done.
Continuing to let things slide is an indication that either the task really isn’t that important or that you don’t think it is. The problem you might run into with the second part of that is someone else may think it is critical and your failure to accomplish it damages your reputation and, in turn, your business.
Every bad habit you have was once a new habit. Following this routine may lead you to getting rid of some of them.