When it comes to productivity, hard work is half the battle. The first half—the crucial half—is planning well. Design Your Day—by someone who read 150 books in her first year as a mother—is an all-in-one guide to smart productivity.
Break Down The Goal
You don’t hit a goal by doing it all at once, but by breaking it down. To read twelve books a year, you need to read one book a month, or one quarter of a book per week. If you stick to this average, you’ve got your annual goal covered.
Figure Out How Long It Will Take
Approximating how long a goal will take you to accomplish is key. In the case of reading, try timing yourself as you read to see how many minutes it takes for you to read one page. If we assume an average book has 250 pages, then you’ll know how many hours (roughly!) it will take you to read an average book.
The same works for any goal you set for yourself, whether it’s running a marathon or increasing your giving by 10 percent or planning a vacation with family. Breaking down the goal into actionable items and determining how long it will take to accomplish that goal is essential.
Keep Goals Relevant
One mistaken notion about goals setting is that you should always be incrementally increasing your goals. This ‘more is better’ mindset is a trap I’ve fallen into many times before. In the past, I believed that if I hit my goal last year I should beat it this year. The reality, though, is that always increasing your goals can be just plain stupid, and can run in direct contrast to one of the keys in the SMART goal-setting framework: relevancy.
Keep Your Goals Top Of Mind
To stick to your goals, it’s important to remember them–and not just a few times a year. We all need a regular reminder of what we’re setting our sights on in order to get where we want to go.
Limit Your Work To Your Best 20 %
A massage therapist I know has spent her life around human bodies–strong ones, weak ones, and all the variations in between. She believes that the key to moving well is to listen to your body’s desire to do less. Whether you’re sitting in a chair or standing up tall, she says, you need to ask yourself how you can do less. Our bodies know that lifting something heavy works better when we squat and lift with all our power.
When it comes to productivity, a key way to do this is to limit the things we do. The 80/20 Principle says that we accomplish 80 percent of our work in 20 percent of our time. Conversely, we waste 80 percent of our time spinning our wheels to get a measly 20 percent of our results. This means that to truly be productive we need to try and only do that 20 percent of things we are really good at that bring us great results, and eliminate the other 20 percent from our plate completely. Ultimately, this is the key to freeing up immense amounts of time and getting rid of those sixty-, fifty-, or even forty-hour workweeks.