Extraordinary Productivity

Want to work harder and get more done? Then STOP READING!

But if you’re like me and think you work as hard as you can, yet still want to make a bigger difference, let’s hang for a moment.  I’m trying something new and you can join me.

First, let me say I’ve spent the past decade becoming “more efficient.”  I get LOTS of stuff done and I’m pretty darn quick.  In my last blog (link here please!) I talked about making quick decisions.  That in itself has made me more productive.   But… Team CYBIS expanded its vision and it’s time for me to expand my mind.  We aim to be a world-class leader in creative communications.  That means we seriously want to make a BIG DIFFERENCE.  We want to contribute more and inspire more.  But as CEO, I’m BUSY!  How can we achieve more if we’re already tapped out, exhausted, and simply out of hours in the day? 

The answer requires us to first recognize what most “knowledge workers” do during their day.  We spend 70% of our work time with urgencies and irrelevancies, and only 30% of our time on important priorities.  We’re spinning our wheels.  And typically by the time we finish that 70%, we’re probably not even that focused and effective with the important stuff leftover.  I often convince myself that “after I finish all of this” I will be able to focus on “this big important thing.”   But the truth is that I will never be done with the influx, which means unless I change my approach, I’ll never be able to contribute to the things that matter most.

Per the Time Matrix, we how we spend our time falls into one of 4 quadrants.

5 Choices Quadrant lorez

Notice the important activities in Q1 and Q2.  And the urgent activities in Q1 and Q3.  Q4 is neither important nor urgent and therefore a waste of time (social media updates, drowning yourself in TV and mindless Internet searches).

Study the chart for a moment and you’ll see that Q2 is the golden ticket to extraordinary productivity.  And please notice it’s not about more work. It’s about the right work – the strategic, proactive, planning, and high-impact items.  In fact, it’s not even all about work at all, as it includes a healthy balance of learning, renewing, and relationship building.  I think it’s honestly beyond the word “productivity” – Q2 is a great sense of fulfillment and happiness!  : )

Unfortunately, most of us spend a quarter of our time with crises and last minute urgencies (Q1).  These are important items that we must tend to right away.  However, the case can be made that with better planning, proactivity, and strategy, (ahem, Q2), we can greatly reduce the number of “emergencies.”  Therefore, the more time you put into Q2, the less time you’ll even need to be in Q1.  Physiologically, Q1 activities give us a dopamine hit and the rush and excitement gives us a temporary high; even a feeling of superhero status.  That’s why it’s addictive and must be consciously minimized.

Then, we spend a quarter of our time with interruptions and distractions that seem really important.  By the time we finish our day, we’re exhausted because we think we’ve done so much.  And the tricky part is that we actually have an adrenaline rush from the stress, thereby deluding ourselves into believing we were “productive.”   Unfortunately, reacting to the urgent is like a mouse in a spinning wheel.  There is no end to these things.  And the faster we do them, the more there seem to be!  These endless activities are confused with accomplishment but they’re not helping anybody make a big difference.  Q3 people are urgency addicts.

“Quadrant 2 things are important but not urgent.  This is the ‘Quadrant of Extraordinary Productivity’ because here you take charge of your own life and create your own great future.  Q2 people do the thoughtful, creative, proactive work that changes the world.  They act on the important; they don’t react to the urgent.  They plan, they prepare, they prevent crises.  They learn, they create, they build relationships.  They continually renew their energy levels so they don’t burn out.  They do the things everyone knows are most important but few seem to get to.”

So join me in a life focused on the important (but not urgent things) and tell me if you feel a greater sense of peace, control, and fulfillment.  I think this is one technique to help us really make a bigger impact on the people and world around us, and ultimately live extraordinary lives.

Source: Mostly hijacked from The 5 Choices of Extraordinary Productivity (www.the5choices.com).  I highly recommend the book for busy professionals. 

Post by Jeff Douglass, Founder & CEO

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