In her newest blog titled “How Do You Know When You’re Busy?” Stack points out that looking busy, perhaps even feeling busy, doesn’t mean a person being productive, and without a clear understanding of one’s realistic and attainable goals, finding the productive person inside may be elusive.
“Having lots of plates spinning at once doesn't necessarily mean anything was accomplished,”
Even the busiest days, according to Stack, can be unproductive. The first step toward defining productivity, Stack says, is defining realistic, attainable goals and working toward them. Interruptions can continue to sidetrack anyone on a daily basis, but having a plan will help with getting back on track.
Stack advocates planning time, beyond simply keeping track of meetings and jotting down deadlines. Planning one’s time is all about keeping track of projects and long-term goals, and managing priorities.
“If all you have is a daily to-do list and never look ahead, it is very easy to spend your day reacting to low-priority tasks without even realizing it,” she says. “Sure, you'll probably go to each of your meetings and cross off a few items on your list, but this is no guarantee that you are maximizing your productivity and making sure your daily activities are contributing toward your long-term objectives.”
This means double checking to make sure everything you do – from attending a meeting to talking on the phone. When possible, weed out those actions that don’t meet the criteria. Make sure every meeting is a good use of time. An effective to do list can help.
“Take a few minutes each day to invest in planning,” Stack says. “Make sure that your to-do list not only tells you what you want to get done, but offers some level of priority for each item.
“You accomplish things in order of priority, and spend some time on tasks that aren't due in the next few days.”
Stack cautions against a common trap – getting tied up in a low-priority task that may be easy or fun. Resist the temptation, she says, and get the least attractive but highest value tasks done first, and enjoy feeling better about it all day.
Moving towards goals, whether they represent career ambitions, goals for the family, or personal goals, should be the highest priority, according to Stack.
“Your big goals in life are your highest priorities,”
The next promotion, relationships with family, physical fitness levels--whatever it is that matters most, so often gets pushed to the back-burner in favor of things that aren't nearly as important.
“It is too easy for unimportant work to steal family time, for office frustrations to make you lose sight of career ambitions, or for exercise to be that one thing on the list that always gets pushed to the side.”
In her blog, Stack goes on to say if the last few paragraphs seem all-too-true to you, you might consider grabbing a piece of paper and writing down your goals for the next month, six months, and year. Then post your goals where they can act as a constant reminder of your true priorities. That might be your computer monitor at work or your bathroom mirror at home. Just make sure that you make your goals clear and post them with pride.
To find out more about productivity, visit the Productivity Pro website at www.TheProductivityPro.com, send an Email to Laura@TheProductivityPro.com, or call (303) 471-7401.
About Laura Stack:
Laura Stack is a time management and productivity expert who has been speaking and writing about human potential and peak performance since 1992. She has implemented employee productivity improvement programs at Wal-Mart, Cisco Systems, UBS, Aramark, and Bank of America. Stack presents keynotes and seminars internationally for leaders, entrepreneurs, salespeople, and professional services firms on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in the workplace.
The president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management firm specializing in high-stress environments, Stack is the bestselling author of five books: “SuperCompetent”