How To Be More Productive: Prioritize
After Ottawa resident Chris Bailey completed a degree in business, he dedicated a year to exploring productivity. He published The Productivity Project earlier this year and has since devoted himself to the subject full-time as a speaker and consultant. The key, Bailey insists, is establishing and achieving goals without wasting energy, focus or time. If you accomplish what you’ve set out to do, you’ve had a productive day.
In one test, Bailey alternated between devoting 90-hour and 20-hour weeks to his research to see how much a committed workaholic might actually get done. Though he felt far more productive during the longer stints, the logs he kept showed he’d accomplished only 10 to 20 per cent more. He filled the rest of his time with “busywork”-checking email, dawdling on projects, and so on. “Productivity doesn’t just involve spending more time on tasks,” he says. Rather, it requires us to focus on the right things and allocate our attention and energy wisely.
One of Bailey’s favourite discoveries is simple: the list of three. Instead of beginning his days with an epic (and growing) set of to-dos, he writes down the three main tasks he intends to accomplish-whatever is essential to stay on top of things. “The brain is wired to think in threes,” he says.
Edmonton-area psychologist Chad Bodnar agrees that prioritizing is key. “You’re going to have to evaluate what you can do, what you have control over and what’s urgent. Do you have the resources to solve something now, or do you need time to gather what you need? Can you delegate some tasks to other people?” He stresses that we thrive best when we reach out to our social networks for support, especially in challenging times.