I remember a year ago, my days seemed chock-full but never really resulted in much worth talking about.
Have you ever felt like that? If so, I know how you feel. Only until very recently, I realized how much time I was actually wasting on unproductive stuff that were really distractions in disguise trying to pull me away from doing what I knew was most important. So after reading a couple books, especially The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, I came up with this task list template you can use as well to put your priorities into place and increase your productivity.
Today, time and attention are the most valuable currency. To be really wealthy, and have the time (and financial) freedom you want, you need to be your own best manager. That means evaluating each task and seeing the potential value it can bring to your life.
Most routine tasks are just a waste of time that can be easily automated or outsourced. I’m not saying they’re not important, but when you have a lot of value to give to the world, especially as an internet marketer and information product creator, these tasks take your focus off the high value tasks.
What is Productivity?
To be productive, one must understand what it really means. Productivity is the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services (Dictionary.com). In other words, creating value.
Therefore, it’s important to ask yourself if you’re creating enough value through any given task. If not, simplify it, outsource it, or just discard it.
Effective vs. Efficient
In the 4HWW, Tim talks about the difference of being effective vs. efficient. Here is the difference:
Being effective means getting the highest value tasks done before lower value tasks. Being efficient means taking the least possible time to complete a task in the most streamlined way possible. Let’s take a look at a few examples:
I could be the world’s most efficient “paper pusher” but accomplish little of value (think corporate 9-5 bureaucracy). Or, I could generate $10,000 or more of value in less than 4 hours per week. Which do you think is better? Obviously the latter one. This requires focusing solely on the most valuable tasks, which brings me to the next principle.
The 80/20 Rule
This is also originally known as the Pareto Law or Pareto principle. It was named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. In 1906, he observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by only 20% of the population. He eventually developed the principle when he discovered that only 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.
The 80/20 rule simply states that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Rephrased in terms of time management, 20% of your activities or tasks will yield 80% of your results or 80% of your tasks will only yield 20% of your results. This principle can be seen at work in many different areas.
What does this mean? Get rid of the unproductive 80% of your tasks and focus your valuable time, energy and attention on the top 20%. This is how to be super effective.
Here are a few productivity tips to immediately double your effectiveness:
- Only check your email 2 x per day. Once in the late morning (around 11am) and once in the late afternoon (around 4pm). If you’ve got this down, then try shortening it to 1 x per day.
- Schedule ‘distraction-free’ time blocks during your day where you lock your door, shut off your phone (and even internet if not required) and focus on your highest value tasks. Blocks of 90 minutes work good with a short 10-15 minute break in-between blocks. You may prefer 45-60 minute blocks instead if that’s what suits you better.
- Limit the time you have to do something. This will make you more efficient and force you to get it done in less time. Remember how fast you wrote that crammed term paper? You just got it done.
Download Your Free Task List Template Below: