Are you sometimes stressed and overwhelmed by your daily workload and can´t seem to ever get all the things done that you know you should be doing? Do you feel like your to-do list is growing larger every day, with more tasks and unanswered emails piling up than you can handle? If that´s the case, then this post is for you!
In his great book No Excuses: The Power of Self-Discipline, motivational speaker Brian Tracy explains how to use self-discipline at work to get more things done and increase our productivity in everything we do. As a management consultant to more than 1,000 companies and author of over 70 books, he clearly knows his stuff.
Here's my Top 8 Takeaways:
1. GETTING THINGS DONE IS ABOUT SELF-DISCIPLINE
Whether it is at work, in your relationships, or your fitness, getting things done requires self-discipline. The truth is, in most cases, you know exactly what you should be doing. You know you should make 20 sales calls a day, finally tackle the important task that has been on top of your to-do list for weeks, or run a few miles every day. You know you should be doing all these things, but you don´t do them anyway.
The reason for that is usually not lack of time, but simply lack of self-discipline. As Elbert Hubbard said, “Self-discipline is the ability to do what you have to do, when you have to do it, whether you feel like it or not.”
In order to accomplish anything in life, you need to boost your ability to stay disciplined even if it´s hard and do whatever it takes to succeed. Self-discipline is like a muscle, it grows with resistance. Practice self-discipline on a daily basis, and you feel soon find yourself doing more of the things you know you should be doing. To learn more about building unbreakable self-discipline, click here.
2. THE ESSENCE OF TIME MANAGEMENT
According to Tracy, the essence of time management is to set your priorities straight and then stick with them. Every morning you get to work, there are a dozens of choices you have to make on what to do and when to do it. Start that new project or answer emails? Finish another task or chat with your colleagues? The choices you make every day will determine how much you get done and therefore your success or failure.
In order to be as productive as possible, you constantly need to ask yourself: “What´s the most valuable use of my time right now?” There are dozens of things you could be doing, but only one thing you should be doing. Your job is to determine what that is in advance and then every day stick to your priorities.
3. YOUR TOP 3 THINGS
In nearly every job, there are only a few key tasks that are absolutely essential to your success. As the Pareto Principle says, 20% of your actions will account for as much as 80% of your results, if you are able to do the right ones. As a salesperson for example, there is only one thing necessary to get results: talking to potential clients. Everything else, all the paperwork and preparation is supportive work, but won´t create the results you want. Only one-on-one time with your clients does.
Whatever your job is, find your top 1-3 tasks that are absolutely necessary for you to do them well, and do nothing else until they are finished.
4. REFUSE TO DO UNIMPORTANT THINGS IF YOU HAVE OTHERS LEFT
As Goethe said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter the least.” In other words, never do an unimportant thing if you have an important thing left.
The problem most people have with that is that it is usually the unimportant things that are fun and easy to do, while the important tasks are nearly always also the hardest ones. So instead of doing the things they are supposed to be doing, people chose the path of least resistance and do the easy things first.
If you want to get better results at work, make sure to always to the important tasks first, no matter how hard they may be. By pushing past your limits and doing things that you avoided before, you will not only get better results, but also raise your self-esteem because you know you can handle important tasks.
5. PRETEND LIKE SOMEONE IS WATCHING YOU 24/7
If your boss joined you for the next week, watching you from morning until the time you leave work, would you act differently? You bet! There would be no social media, no unnecessary chats with your colleagues, and no wasting time. You would have to be highly focused and productive. In such a state, how much more would you be able to get done?
Now, you don´t actually need your boss to follow you around to trigger high performance. You can do that yourself, by pretending like someone is watching you 24/7. What would you do differently throughout the day?
6. DISCONTINUE UNIMPORTANT THINGS
Next to your list of the things you should be doing, you should also have a list of the things you should not be doing. Time wasters like social media, answering unimportant emails instead of tackling bigger projects, or gossiping with your colleagues. If you don´t commit to avoiding these things in advance, chances are, you will end up choosing what is fun and easy over what it hard and necessary. Write down the things you will stop doing from now on, and then keep your commitment religiously.
7. BE PRODUCTIVE VS. REACTIVE
No matter what your goals are in life, there will be many setbacks. You will face adversity and problems, as well as the occasional crisis. To master these challenges when they occur, commit in advance to responding in a calm and confident manner, focusing on solutions, not problems.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by adversity when it hits, so it is necessary that you have a plan on how to deal with it. Decide in advance how you will react, write it down, and then act accordingly when problems arise.
How much you get done each day is largely determined by your ability to focus - to fully concentrate on the task at hand while disregarding everything else. This skill is crucial because it allows you to direct your whole attention, energy, and creativity to one task instead of spreading it thin. Whatever you are doing at any time of the day, focus on it completely and try to shut out everything else. You will soon find that both the quality and quantity of your work will increase because you are able to get things done quicker and better.
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