Week 2A: Tips & Tools to Organize Time and Increase Productivity

ADAMS-1First I must interject a favorite gem, Sage Cohen’s “3 P’s of Productivity” (from The Productive Writer):

1. Pleasure: If you enjoy what you are doing, you’ll be far more likely to continue doing it and eventually be successful at it.

2. Possibility: If you are clear about the value of any process, project or opportunity—in other words, how it makes your goals, desires, and dreams more possible—you are far more likely to stay on course, even when the going gets rough.

3. Prosperity: Productivity does not deplete the stores. It fills you up—with confidence, expertise, money, information, inspiration, recognition, authority—maybe not all of these, all at once, but certainly in at least one or two key ways that register as “prosperous” for you.

Which segues into…TOOLS FOR SUCCESS! Three tools you absolutely must bring to the table if you want to be a pro:

1. Your Body. It’s your first best tool. Start your day right by eating a real meal. No coffee and croissant. We’re talking the cover of a cornflakes box: OJ, toast, eggs, steak, bacon, pancakes, salsa, and a frosty glass of beer. EAT. Then take a shower. If you shower at night like I do, then go for a walk once around the block instead—but do something that wakes your body up and gives you some time to think. Maybe you can consider your morning commute for this Zen moment, but only if during this you can actually pull off number two below…

2. Your Brain. People forget to use this one. Start the motor running physically, then jumpstart the brain. What are you excited about? Get excited! What are you thankful for? When I’m in bed trying to talk myself out of it, I remind me that I am doing what I love to do—or will as soon as I get up—and sometimes I even get paid for it! It’s hard at first, the wine and muses have had free run of your life, but now it’s time to take charge. Everyone has a different idea of how to get it all done, but one thing is common across the boards—professional, successful people have schedules, they stick to them, and they make few exceptions for themselves or anyone else. How you set your schedule and keep it is negotiable. I set my kitchen egg timer every fifteen minutes during particularly uninspired graphic design drudgery to keep from hypnotizing myself with unimportant detail. Think about your big picture. What’s the ideal? Where do you arrive in the long run? Then think about today’s plan. What are you determined to pull off today? Mentally pound your chest and howl in the locker room about it for a minute. Get psyched. If you still start your day with a groan, you’re not living the right life. Get another one.

3. Your Schedule. If you don’t have a planner or appointment book or daily calendar with room for notes, get one. GET IT NOW*. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a STARTING and STOPPING point for each activity. Does the grocery clerk get a call at home to rush in and bag some organic apples an hour after closing? Schedule your meals. Schedule your deadlines. Schedule your stretch breaks and important phone calls. When you can trust yourself to remember all this in a neat and orderly manner, you can set fire to your calendar. Until then, don’t make me beat you with it.

* If you’re having trouble figuring out which planner is right for you, then hit the 99¢ Store, get a small ruled pocket notebook and a golf pencil, write the date on each separate page and use that. Write the hours of your day on each line, from ____ a.m. “eat breakfast” to ____ p.m. “crash” and then start filling them in. Keep it on your person. Obviously there’s no point to a schedule you don’t refer to.

You need to look at life as a 24-hour equation. Read on about the 24-hour equation HERE and kick your schedule in the rear end. We are constantly asked about discipline and how to maintain persistency. It’s not a magic trick, find your 24-hour equation and finally get a grip!

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