Ever since my frustration with a day of 100% activity, 0% productivity 2 weeks ago, I’ve been starting the day with a small addition to my day’s to do list. I call it the “success measure” box and add 2-3 items whose completion would mark a successful day.
This little box has changed everything. It helps that I do this first thing in the morning as I start the day with a clear understanding of what success looks like. I have just one rule – there can’t be more than 3 items in the box. As a result of this –
1. I can almost feel a bit of stress when I find myself mucking around with items outside the success measure box. That’s great as it clearly distinguishes activity from productivity.
2. I do everything possible to be efficient through the rest of my meetings and non-essential tasks so I can carve out blocks to complete these.
3. It helps with the idea of “focus as a verb.” Focus as a noun is being able to buckle down and get work done. Focus as a verb is a trait I consider more essential. It means being able to go through life with a clear idea of what is important at a given point of time.
Finally, it is my belief that we are happiest when we’re making progress towards our goals. And, the joy from ticking off the success measure items at the end of the day is one that makes the challenge worth it.
PS: And, of course I fail from time to time. But, the big difference is that the reasons and learnings are very clear, e.g, I typically realize I just have to do a better job scheduling everything else / building in enough slack time the next day.