For Christmas, my baby brother gave me a swaggy burgundy shoulder bag that I use for everything—seriously. You can usually find me on any given morning at a Starbucks with this bag sitting next to me as I pull out my MacBook Air, iPad, iPhone and a good old-fashioned notebook and ink pen.
Some of you out there may be rolling your eyes at my “first world problems,” while others of you are nodding emphatically and saying to yourself “OMG! That’s so me!! I always need all of those things!”
It’s how I get things done, these are the tools I use to help me kill the productivity game—and trust me, it’s a game. But the secret to getting things done is not my devices (although I really do believe Jesus syncs my calendars), the secret is…did you guess? Nah, it’s not a fancy app—it’s the way I create my lists.
Say what? Yep, I said it’s the WAY I create my lists.
First, for reference, let’s talk about the story of Charles Schwab and Ivy Lee—because everyone who has ever wanted to be productive should know this story. (The quick version) Schwab—big time turn of the 20th century steel magnate, Lee—“father of public relations.”
Schwab was all “my employees are completely driving me crazy, they’re totally unproductive.”
Lee comes along and is like “well Charlie, here’s what I do…” And what Ivy Lee does, well it has to be a duh moment for Schwab, but it’s golden. And it ended up being so golden, that Schwab went on to give him $25K for the advice (about $300K in 2016 money). When’s the last time you gave someone $300,000 of good advice?
So, what did Lee tell him? Lee told him that he makes a list of 3-5 tasks, prioritizes the most important items, and DOES NOT MOVE ON TO THE NEXT ITEM UNTIL THE ONE BEFORE IT IS COMPLETE.
(Waits for your disappointment…)
Sounds simple enough, maybe too simple? Today, we are so consumed with “hacking” industries and being innovative that there are days that we forget to apply basic principles to our problems. “Don’t reinvent the wheel” as they say. Seriously, hacking has "gone viral," there's even a reality show called Hack My Life!
So here’s how I manage my productivity through my lists (if this blog post boosts your productivity and ends up significantly boosting your revenue—I’m not saying I’m expecting a $300,000 check…I’m just saying I wouldn’t be opposed to it).
Every Monday, I take part in a 30 minute “Action Call” designed to allow me to:
celebrate my wins
recognize areas for improvement
set my BIG 3 revenue producing goals for the week
reflect on the things I am grateful for
I do this as part of a community of an amazing group of Entrepreneurs, but you do not have to take part in this type of group to do this step.
How YOU can APPLY THIS:
First,set aside 30 minutes at the start of each week, and have your own “Action Corner.” For me, the Action Call takes place after I’ve worked out, prepared my coffee, made my oatmeal and spent time in the sun with my dog—and IMPORTANTLY- usually, before I’ve checked email or social (to be honest this isn’t always the case, but I’m working on that).
Then, take one of your many useful and favorite devices (I write in my notebook because I can barely remember my name if I don’t write it) and jot down what week of the year it is (right now it’s week 15 of 2016).
Next, write down what week it was previously (in this case, 14 lol I know you knew that). Take a moment to smile to yourself, and think about all the things that brought in leads (blogs, social, etc.), new business relationships, produced revenue and generated opportunities for revenue. Write those things down (these are your WINS!) and celebrate (I smile and sip my coffee, but you can do a jig or eat ice cream—party how you feel).
After that, write down your Big 3 for the week you’re starting. It’s often recommended that you have no more than 3—so make sure they’re BIG!
Smile again, and think about what you’re grateful for. Sit in that warmth, and then, write it down.
Finally, and THIS HAS BEEN THE MOST CRUCIAL STEP FOR ME, and how I have applied Lee’s advice to Schwab. Each evening, I reflect on the Big 3, and make a list for the upcoming day of NO MORE THAN 5 items that will get me to those goals.
Note: Inevitably, you will have unforeseen events (maybe you have to make sure you wash the dishes one of those days, and you think that has nothing to do with your revenue, but ultimately, if you’re worried about the dishes you’re distracted, so just do the dishes, they can be on the list).
When each day’s little tasks are tied into each week’s ultimate goals, you go from week to week “killing the productivity game.” It’s important to note that during your 30 minute “Action Corner,” you should look back to the previous week’s list and see what did not get done. Hold yourself accountable for items that go undone and carry over into each week. This is the anti-productivity hack—so be sure to check yaself before ya wreck yaself with this one.
RECAP- The way you manage your time is not separate from maximum productivity—and one of the best ways to manage your time is good old fashioned To Do lists. The key to maximizing your productivity is not the list itself, but the way you identify your goals and the steps you put in place to reach them.
For me, it looks like this:
WINS from WEEK 15
WEEK 16 BIG THREE
Grateful for: Mi Madre!
Daily To Do Lists (each item is around reaching the BIG THREE in order of priority):
You may be thinking this is too simple to be sound advice, and since i can't guarantee you this will work...I'll just say I'm positive if you stick to this method you'll see improvements in your productivity. Remember...
So, here’s to hacking—the old-fashioned way!