To be more productive in your life, start organizing your major activities into five areas.
Do the prep work. Invest time in the practice and learning required to meet your specific performance needs. Pick the formula and ratio that works for you. Example: Allot four hours of practice and preparation for every one hour of performance. That may seem extreme, or it could be too little for you. Consider the effort professional athletes put in toward their daily practice. A four-to-one ratio could be your sweet spot for success. The minimum would be one-to-one. Yes, that means if you run a weekly one-hour meeting, you are also investing one hour for planning (agenda, presentation, objection handling, etc.) Adopting this discipline forces you to deeply consider the content and context of your meetings and other high-stake performances.
Showtime. The well-known, often maligned Pareto Principle states that 80% of results come from 20% of activity. The activities to focus on are your key outcome-producing activities, the biggest, high-leverage skills required to get the largest return on your investment of time, treasure, or talent because your performance is what others see, count on, and how you are judged.
Many people skip this altogether — bad move. The time you make in this phase will vary depending on the importance of the activity. In some instances, it may be as long as the prep work or the length of the performance. Minimally, make it half the length of the performance until you refine your process. The review phase is simply a “facts only” after action review of what happened, what worked or didn’t, and what to do differently the next time around. Doing this puts closure to the performance, so you don’t drag regrets forward, nor rest on your laurels.
Taking necessary downtime and using it wisely is a strategic advantage many people fail to employ. This period is where you pursue other interests, play, relax and otherwise recover. People think of this as vacation time. It is more than that. Rest is required for different parts of your mind to be activated. If your performance was technical in nature, this might be a more artistic time for you. Have you ever felt exhausted yet restless binge-watching old movies? It is your mind’s way of telling you that particular low-grade activity isn’t cutting it, and it is searching for fresh inputs for rejuvenation. You would do well to help it along.
If this major activity is something you will do regularly and well into the future, you’ll need to repeat these steps consistently. If it was simply a significant project that has now come to a close, you could fill it with a new priority.
Let your current priority decide which phase to schedule first. If you are constantly stressed and not making enough time for yourself, schedule rejuvenation time right away. If you have completed a time-tracking study of your day or week, and you know the significant activities, schedule those first, and then backfill the prep time and allow for a review period.
Prepare. Perform. Review. Rejuvenate. Repeat.
Once you figure out the schedule that best works for you, honor it and begin to enjoy greater results and productivity.
Calibrate Your Personal Compass
People who get lost forget to look at their dependable set points. When you’re overwhelmed by the changes occurring around you, look for the certainties in your life.
- Your North — Your true values, not the situational ones you use to justify fun.
- Your East — Your motivating purpose. Why you bother to get up in the morning.
- Your South — How you rejuvenate and lift your spirits.
- Your West — What you dream about or want to bring about.
If you can pinpoint these directions, you’re not lost. You know exactly where you are. If you’re having trouble, make identifying each personal direction your goal. Discovering where you are is not terribly difficult, and it’s essential before you attempt to figure out where you’re going next and what vehicle you’ll use to get there.
Download Your Personal Compass Worksheet: https://www.bimshasconsulting.com/compass/
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Boston-bred and California-chilled Karl Bimshas is the leadership consultant, author, and podcast host who collaborates with busy professionals — most often those who are underestimated and underrepresented in leadership roles. Learn More