It seems counterproductive to suggest you should not spend too much time planning for the future. Productivity is all about making plans and breaking them down into as many small steps as possible so you can follow through. Let me make it clear that I am not saying you should stop making plans and just wing it. I’d never do it and I’d never ask you to try that too.
There is such a thing as a planning horizon though. If you plan too far ahead into the future, you are more likely to be wrong. Experts tend to agree that a planning horizon beyond two weeks is likely to be wrong. Most people have a pretty good idea where they will be for the rest of the week but don’t do so well when trying to predict where they will be a month or two from now. Life throws up so many complications and unexpected events that you are likely to be wrong. An extreme example of this happened early this year. People made plans. The pandemic wrecked those plans.
The secret to having a productive week is simple: Plan your week in advance. A lot of people spend the weekends having fun and resting. That’s OK. Taking time to rest is an essential part of staying productive. However, taking 15 minutes every Sunday evening to plan your week can give your life much needed direction.
Make a list of the tasks you wish to accomplish during the week. Assign those tasks to the days you intend to work on them. That’s it.
Craig Jarrow of Time Management Ninja said “I don’t have time isn’t an excuse. Rather, it is a choice to do something else.” Each day, you face a multitude of choices. Writing a to-do list is a choice. Doing the tasks you write is another choice.
It is likely that your long term goal has some very large numbers in it. Suppose your goal was to write a novel. According to quora, the average novel has 5,300 sentences. I will be generous and round that up to a nice 6,000. The thought of writing 6,000 sentences is enough to give most people pause and stop them from ever getting started.
“Don’t tempt me with that delicious cake. I’m on a diet.”
“So what? You can always start over tomorrow.”
“But this is the fourth time this year.”
Something I wrote to make a point
It’s easy to start a task. People do it all the time. At the beginning of each year, people start writing novels only to give up after a few weeks. Some start exercising or dieting but lose their resolve after a few days and revert to their old habits. Building a new habit is just like a marathon. Many people will be at the starting line. Some will drop out after some time. A few will actually cross the finish line.
Most people make resolutions and plans in good faith. They actually want to improve their capacity or get more done. The problem lies in their mindset. They believe just wanting it should be enough. They make the plans and create the checklists. So far, so good. Now, if they could only actually start and keep doing it. It’s not easy to make a commitment to do every important task on your to-do list when due. There will be days when you encounter resistance.
A google search for define priority yields the following result:
Note the example sentence “”the safety of the country takes priority over any other matter.” Also note the similar phrases: prime concern, first concern and most important consideration. The interesting thing to note about these examples is that they are all SINGULAR. There is no mention of priorities, prime concerns, first (,second and third) concernsor most important considerations.
Have you ever thought about quitting something? Before the thought crosses your mind, no I am not quitting this blog. Every day, people face a great deal of pressure. I have heard expressions like winners never quit and you are not a loser until you quit trying. Quotes like that may be good for motivation but telling a person to never quit may turn out to be bad advice.
A phrase I hear a lot lately is “Zoom meetings.” A few weeks ago, a colleague mentioned they had back to back online meetings all day and as such couldn’t do anything else. What annoyed him was not having to attend so many meetings but the fact that most of those meetings were in his words “useless.”
COVID-19 forced people to adapt to new ways of working. Teams could no longer meet in person. This led to a spike in online meetings. However, if you are in back to back meetings 3 days a week, your productivity is going to suffer. When will you have time to work on those action items (action items are being assigned at the end of those meetings, I hope?)
Every day presents a new learning opportunity. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing. In a world where new information keeps being generated at an astounding rate, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. You need only log in to a social media account to be bombarded by so many details. IBM once estimated that in 2020, human knowledge will be doubling every 12 hours. That’s an exciting thought but it can also be scary. How do you continue to gain new skills to ensure you remain relevant in your chosen field?
We make thousands of decisions every day. Those decisions add up to become the person we eventually become. Like it or not, you are the product of every decision you have made so far: good or bad. If you have ever attended an economics class, you must have heard of opportunity cost. In very simple terms, if you had ₦1,000 today and had to decide whether to buy shawarma or yahuza suya, the option you chose not to buy is the opportunity cost.