Right task, Right time

A short while back, at an event, I had a conversation with a friend who wanted to learn how to use Spreadsheet software. He could do basic things using a spreadsheet but had come to realise just how versatile the skillset could be. However, he mentioned not having enough time to learn. I asked him a few questions about how best he learnt. Did he prefer classroom settings, one-on-one learning, self-taught or online classes? Knowing this would help him figure out how to create time to improve his spreadsheet skills. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish the conversation as we had to move on to other activities.

A
Now or Later
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Keep your friends close and your to-do list closer

Where is your to-do list for the day? As I type this post, I can take a quick glance at mine on my favourite note-taking app, Evernote. On the go, it’s available on my mobile phone. It automatically syncs across my devices so I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything. I go to great lengths to make sure I have my to-do list with me wherever I am. That’s because out of all the productivity tools in my box, the to-do list has proven a life saver.

A to-do list
Ready to cross the next task off
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Seize the hour (not the day)

The Latin expression “Carpe Diem”, often translated into English as seize the day is first attested by the ancient Roman Poet, Horace. The idea behind the expression is that since the future is uncertain, it is best to prepare for every situation by taking action when you can instead of leaving it up to chance. In other words, do what you can now to make the future better.

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Work hard but only on the right things

“As you climb the ladder of success, be sure it is leaning against the right building.”

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Management Consultant, Peter Drucker once said “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently something that should not have been done at all.” Drucker’s ideas eventually lead to what is now called outsourcing ie a company should focus on only those activities that are essential to its business and that it can do well. Anything else should be contracted out to other companies. The result would be improved business for every company as each firm focused on what it could do best.

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Productivity means being prepared to do your best

I remember in Junior Secondary School during assembly we often had to sing a song that began “Do your best and leave the rest.” I was tempted to attach a voice file of myself singing the full song. Luckily, saner heads have talked me out of it. That song got me thinking, in order to reach peak productivity, you need to first choose what to focus on, then give it your best, even when no one is watching.

Don't try to be perfect. Just do your best
Wherever you are
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Tomorrow takes care of itself

Tomorrow

“The future is to be lived, not prearranged.”

Luke Skywalker (In Star Wars Legends)

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.

a mystical land where 99% of all human productivity, motivation and achievement is stored.
How long will you chase the myth?
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What does your Thursday look like?

Weekly Planner

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.

Weekly planner
My week captured in Trello
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Small with focus

A sticky note

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.

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Priority is a singular word

Priority

A google search for define priority yields the following result:

Define priority web result
It’s singular

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) concerns or most important considerations.

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Get some rest

Sleepy smiley

“We didn’t sleep when we are tired. We sleep when we are done.”

–  Someone’s tweet

A few weeks ago, I saw this on twitter. Someone had probably felt good about something they had done and wanted to give themselves a pat on the back. Going without sleep, the person seemed to suggest was the way to get your goals achieved. I don’t know about you but I have a feeling that person had attended one too many “Aspire to acquire” motivational speakers.

A sleeping brown cat
Cats have the right idea

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