What supports you doing what matters most?
It was an re-connecting coaching conversation with Brian, his coaching engagement ended last year. Staying in touch with my clients is an important and rewarding aspect of my work as an executive coach.
We discussed personal productivity and the internal voices that seek to influence his decision-making. How the voices seek to influence his thinking about time and the use of time. That only one voice will liberate him to enjoy personal success.
- The Voice of Illusion says, “You’ll have time for that, later…”
- The Voice of Deception repeats, “You are very busy…good job!”
- The Voice of Reality clarifies truth: “You will succeed when you choose, right now to engage in what will produce results.”
My recent post addresses this foundation of personal productivity.
We explored how his personal success will increase as he determines to do what matters most, right now. As Last week’s post suggests it is easier to make wise decisions when you live each day:
- Respecting the fleeting nature of life
- Re-framing work as creative opportunity
- Receiving motivation from making progress
- Retaining personal accountability for results
Brian then raised a great question: What can I do that will help me become more productive?
Here are three suggestions…which will help you be more productive?
1. Schedule an Interruption
What happens when you start “researching” using Google? How often does that 10-minute task expand and you wonder where did the hour go?
As a young kid, we would walk to the playground. Whether it was for 1on1 hoops or flag football it was easy to lose track of time…do you remember? Okay, maybe not…but when do you get lost in time?
Back to the busy “research”, just think of all those hyperlinks, no wonder it is so easy to spend a lot of time in web-based research. Right? The “deceptive voice” cheers you on reinforcing your behavior with, “You’re so busy, good job!” It feels so good, so productive. Remember, activity is only productive when you are active doing what matters most.
What about this “scheduled interruption”? Set your smart phone timer or an egg timer for a reasonable amount of time for the project. The timer simply asks you to check-in: are you still doing what matters most, right now? You create a little space so you can make a decision about what to do next.
When would a scheduled interruption support your productivity?
2. Use a 4-D Inquiry
No, this is not a formal investigation regarding your personal productivity.
What happens when you develop the habit of asking questions? Communication is improved. What happens when you develop the habit of asking yourself questions? Communication is improved which can increase your productivity.
For example, what might happen if you ask yourself the following through-out your day?
- How does what I am doing right now, help me achieve personal success?
- What am I to do with this…report, piece of mail, e-mail, request?
- If I make this new commitment, what will I need to stop doing?
The personal Q-n-A regarding time will lead to increased productivity.
David Allen, dubbed the “Personal Productivity Guru” by Fast Company writes about his system in Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. He notes that your productivity and ability to relax are connected.
Here is my interpretation, “The 4-D Inquiry” based on David Allen’s guide for managing all the “stuff” that comes across your desk:
- Do it: Can you complete the action within a couple of minutes? If yes, do it.
- Delegate it: Are you the right person for the task? If no, pass it off.
- Defer it: Will this take more time, but belongs to you? If yes, then schedule a time for it or post it on an appropriate ticker file or list.
- Dump it: Where does it go when it doesn’t fit any of the above? Drop it.
*For more in-depth productivity help, see David Allen’s book: Getting Things Done
Recently, while discussing the productivity battle with a former employee, she made this significant observation.
“You know, the truth is I’ll never have more energy for a task then at the moment it shows up on my radar. Once it goes on my “To-do List” there a little less support for getting it done. Every time it rolls over to the next day, there is even less energy. It is best just to get it done if it matters.”
Perhaps her use of The 4-D Inquiry will help.
3. Live in Real Time
Real time is the actual time during which something happens. In terms of productivity, this is being aware of what is going on with your time, schedule, and focus at any given moment.
This concept is the basis of the Emmy and Golden Globe award winning show 24 starring Kiefer Sutherland. As you may know, the story unfolds over the course of one day, a very full day! The script and commercial breaks happen, as if in real time. With every episode, you are keenly aware of what time it is…and, that time is running out.
To live in the moment, to be present, to focus is to live in real time. Knowing why you are doing what you are doing is critical to staying on course and increased productivity. Clarity here strengthens your resolve to do what matters most, right now in real time.
Productivity is the result of choosing reality over an illusion regarding the use of time.
Questions for your personal reflection:
- When do you find yourself spending more time in some activity than you originally planned?
- What might happen if you set your timer to go off every 30 minutes?
- How could you develop a personal Q-n-A session into your day?
- How will you incorporate The 4-D Inquiry?
- Why are you doing what you are doing? How is your “why” affecting your productivity?
The constant, unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy.
Brian reports The 4-D Inquiry is helping him improve his productivity.
Here’s to your Next Level –