Ha, no not the puffy shirt but I couldn’t resist.
Secrets. They all have secrets. Secrets of highly effective people, master principles to live by that I find most helpful and now I am going to share with you.
Spring has certainly sprung and with a seemingly unending stream of appointments, calls, emails and events, it appears as though there are simply not enough hours in the day… or are there? As my mom so frankly put it, ‘You can’t be THAT busy, even Obama goes to Hawaii’. And you know what? She’s right.
I’m sick of being sooo busy and, coincidentally, I enjoy the continuous pursuit of personal and professional development so I decided to research and explore some of the habits of highly successful people-because that’s what I strive to be.
I quickly realized, therein lies the problem. To be more successful, you have to be more productive. To be more productive, you have to be more efficient. To be more efficient, you have to be lean and mean. This got me thinking, that the concept of spring-cleaning need not apply exclusively to your garage or linen closet. In the spirit of season, I’m sharing my, IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE DO THESE 5 THINGS LIST in hopes that they will increase your efficiency, productivity and simplify your life. (And start today)
#1 KISS IT
My SAT tutor once asked me if I had ever heard of The KISS Principle. “No,” I said as I watched my ride pull out of the parking lot and put a jailhouse grip on my #2 pencil.
“Keep It Simple Stupid,” he said. Ahhh, an acronym and a joke from the SAT prep man. He told me, “If you absolutely don’t know the answer, skip it…leave it blank. An incorrect answer decreases your score more than a blank does so you are better off moving on and getting to the stuff that you can accomplish successfully.”
I have referred to the principle both outwardly and inwardly hundreds of times since then so it is safe to say he has added more value than the 110 points he helped me tack on my score. Moral of the story is to simplify. Don’t overthink things. Less is more. If you can’t do something, move on and/or delegate. It is worse to do something wrong than to do or say nothing at all. (Especially in PR)
#2 BLOCK IT LIKE BEYONCE
Nothing is more humbling than remembering that someone like Beyoncé has the same amount of hours in the day that you do. The difference between Queen Bey and the rest of us isn’t just the obvious though; it’s that she’s a highly efficient time manager, too and knows how to stick to a schedule. Remind yourself that it isn’t the hours your put into your work it’s the work into your hours. Get your calendar together. Block time for everything and don’t cancel. Differentiate between events with color-coding to more easily see your week/month at a glance. Also, take a cue from the queen and learn how to respectfully decline certain requests.
#3 NEVER BREAK THE CHAIN
I read in an article that Jerry Seinfeld (<3) was asked by an up and coming comic what, if any advice he could share on his secrets to building a successful and steady career. Seinfeld apparently told the amateur comedian that he made it a point to write every single day. After doing so, he would mark a big “X” on a giant wall calendar. Marking that “X” was incentive for him to write new material and keep the chain going. I find that his idea of not breaking the chain of positive action really resonating with me and inspiring me to be more productive (even on the weekends). Proof that content has always been king. Create, content, every, day.
#4 BEEN THERE DONE THAT #BTDT
If you are anything like me (or should I say the old me), “To Do” lists abound and can materialize in various forms. Be it an iNote, the back of an envelope or the margin of a newspaper, these anxiety-producing lists seem to be popping up everywhere.
Interestingly enough, I came across a study that showed that people end up doing less than half of the things they write down and lists do little more than waste time and create stress. In contrast, people who wrote down things that they accomplished at the end of each day were likely to be more productive because they wanted to see MORE things written down the following days.
We are trying it out calling it the Been There Done That List #BTDT and finding that it has motivating us to cross off everything from scrubbing outdated lists to scheduling that overdue eye exam.
#5 CONTROL IT BEFORE IT CONTROLS YOU
My roommate in college, Ali gave me some of the best advice I have ever received. She wakes up every morning, hours before she needs to (sometimes she even vacuums) and makes sure that she has time to do the things that she needs to for herself, even if it is before 7am.
I remember I asked her why she did that and she said, “I like to take control of my day before my day takes control of me.” Genius. Fantastic words of wisdom and a great idea. I am coincidentally a morning person and enjoy a good jump on the day but even if you’re not, the idea of taking control of something before it takes control of you is a powerful message.
I often find myself applying this to my email inbox. Merging two tips here, try to think of your inbox as just that, a place for incoming mail and items that still need your attention. Other than pending items, your emails should be filed and stored away. An organized inbox makes for better time management.
Bonus tips: Unsubscribe from everything that you possibly can. Never stop learning or reading. Drink more water. Exercise 3–5 times per week. Do selfless favors.
If you need assistance or further information/support on how to optimize your productivity in business email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation.