How to Get More of What Matters Done
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey
Ever had one of those days where you’re just so busy, time flies by, and at the end of the day you look back and wonder what you actually accomplished?
Where did the day go?
You sure as hell felt busy. You did A LOT, but it feels like you barely scratched the surface of what matters. So you get frustrated, pour yourself a glass of wine (or maybe that’s just me), and open up your social media platform of choice. Inspirational quote, after baby picture, followed by workout shot, and food porn flood your screen.
Before you know it, an hour has evaporated into the social media abyss.
Promising yourself tomorrow you’ll do better, you go to answer the emails that have piled up and do the dishes.
Only tomorrow goes by even faster. Day by day, your plans and dreams get put on the back burner while distractions elbow their way in taking up full-time residence.
Anyone else been there? If so, this blog is for you.
For starters, you’re not alone and this is normal.
I just watched a webinar that talked about the addictive nature of social media and how it lights up the dopamine centers of brain…dopamine is the same neurotransmitter that gets us hooked on things like gambling and cocaine (wanna learn how celebrating uses dopamine to set you up for more happiness + success?).
The webinar was a flashing warning sign reminding me of the social media black hole.
While this isn't new news, it made me think about the distractions that flood our days. How do we avoid that feeling of, "Where did the day go?"
Priorities. Priorities. Priorities.
I know, revelatory, huh?
Getting clear on our priorities and keeping them front and center is the key to GSD (getting sh*t done). It’s a not-so-secret trick of many of the uber-productive and successful.
Want to take it a step further? I made this easy cheat sheet for you!
How to Get More of What Matters Done:
Get your priorities straight! What are your top priorities? Take a moment and brain dump everything that's important to you. Whittle your list down to your top three priorities. Write your priorities out and keep them front and center.
So often we think we think we’re clear on our priorities, when the truth is, we’re vague and have lukewarm priorities. This is how the rest of the world manages to creep in and steal away our valuable time.
If you’re having a tough time getting clear on your priorities, step outside of your day to day for a moment and fast forward 18 months to three years. What do you want your life to look like? This will give you some clues.
Make space. Are your current actions a reflection of your priorities?
If not, time to get cracking. What do you need to eliminate to make room for your top three priorities?
Steal a page from my morning ritual. Use your priorities to influence your daily goals. Every morning write out three daily goals that are aligned with your priorities and long-term vision to create intention and focus.
Less is more. It sounds backward, but the key to getting more done is scheduling less. Fewer daily goals create focus and more output.
Productivity Specialist Franklin Covey surveyed thousands of teams and found, if a team has 2-3 primary goals, they are likely to achieve 2-3 of them. If a team has 3-10 primary goals, they are likely to achieve 1 or 2 of them. And, if a team has 11 or more goals, they are likely to achieve none of them. Read that again. NONE of them. (Read more here.)
What's the payoff? Many of us are motivated by pleasure. Unfortunately, it's this same lust for pleasure that keeps us from GSD. Get clear on how completing these goals will bring you closer to your priorities. What’s the payoff for getting these goals done? Conversely, if you're motivated by avoiding pain, what discomfort will you avoid by focusing on and sticking to your goals?
Schedule it. You may think you'll remember, but more often than not, if we don't schedule it, we don't do it. When, specifically, will you focus on and complete your daily goals?
Sprint. While I think life is a marathon, I'm all for "work sprints".
Set a timer, turn off your ringer, close the tabs on your computer, and shut off notifications (read how multitasking is slowing you down). Work in uninterrupted, highly-focused "sprints" on one specific task for 20-90 minutes, then take a mini-break to check in with the world.
The key to a successful "work sprint" is in the specificity of the task and shutting off distractions. You'd be amazed at how much you can get done in "sprints" of uninterrupted, focused time.
Review. Look back over your goals throughout the day. It only takes a few seconds, but it reminds you of your intention and keeps you from wandering off to work on a “shiny object” (one of my biggest distractions)!
Celebrate. Check in with yourself at the end of the day. How did you do? Celebrate the priorities you focused on and made progress towards. Celebrating our small wins is an act of gratitude that sets us up for increased happiness and future success. (Click here to get a free celebration guide).
Try this for a week, I think you’ll be amazed at your productive output.
Time is your most valuable and limited resource. Stop giving it away to non-priority items.
P. S. I'm curious, what's your favorite way to get more of what matters done? Let me know in the comments below!
P.P.S. Do you know someone who could benefit from this blog? Please share it with them!