No Productivity Hack, App or Weapon in the World Will Help If You Do This One Thing

Productivity, Time Management 0 Comments

I love that movie.

This part is great because it highlights that someone’s role is basically unnecessary in the company. Despite his arguments and train of thought- it’s evident to the consultants (and movie viewers) that this guy is performing a redundant task.

What’s even funnier is that we all do the same thing every day in our own lives without realizing it. We justify tasks that just don’t make sense. We dress it up in different ways, but that’s essentially all we’re doing.

For example- maybe instead of working on that report due tomorrow, you stay locked into your email all day. Or you go read websites related to your industry.

In other words- you do things that you could do, but they really aren’t the most important. You’re focusing on the good instead of working on the great.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the details. Before we know it, we’re focusing on all the tiny minutiae that we lose sight of the main goal. How else can a whole day go by without accomplishing your most important task that only would’ve taken 30-45 minutes?

It happens to the best of us.

Let me be clear – if you aren’t working on the most important things, no time management hack, tip or app will help you. 

I still haven’t developed a great habit of sitting down to write every day. It’s something I’m working on. Which is sad because I love to write, and I want to become known as an author.

So why can’t I take even 15 minutes most days to write? Largely because I haven’t developed the right system for it yet.

The Importance of Systems

Ramit Sethi loves to talk about using systems rather than things like willpower or focusing on tactics. When we create a strong system in our lives, it makes doing that task (or series of tasks) much easier than having to rely on willpower every time.

The folks over at Asian Efficiency talk about the same thing with the importance of having a morning ritual.

For example, take brushing your teeth. You probably do it twice a day without thinking about it, right? It’s just part of your morning and evening routine.

The same (for many of us) goes with when we wake up in the morning. I usually fall into a pattern of waking up at the same time every day- whether I set an alarm or not. That’s because my body just gets used to getting up at the same time, regardless of when I went to bed the night before.

Any daily habit you want to get into should be cultivated into a system. Here are just a few you may want to consider:

  • Exercise
  • Writing
  • Meditation
  • Reading a book related to your current goals or industry
  • Creating art/music
  • Programming

In the famous Important/Urgent diagram, these fall in the Quadrant 2 category. These are things that are easy to ignore as the urgent things demand our attention. But if we never “get to these things” over time, we’ll find ourselves regretting it later.

Are You Focusing on the Wrong Things?

Most of us get caught up in doing the wrong things. We look for the low-hanging fruit rather than doing the things we need to.

But the key to help us get out of this rut is to do three main things:

  1. Identify our most important tasks (MITs)
  2. Create systems to ensure they get done on a daily basis
  3. Schedule things in our calendars to make sure we allocate time to take care of everything else.

Most people won’t argue with 1 and 2, but a lot of people don’t like keeping their schedule full. They see it as restrictive rather than freeing.

But having a schedule actually causes the opposite. It frees up your mind from having to think about everything you have to do. By getting it in your calendar, you’re opening up mental space to do other things.

Like… figure out how to do the tasks! Or come up with new ones. Or just relax.