Use this 100 year old way to get more things done.
In 1918, Charles M. Schwab was one of the richest men in the world. He was constantly seeking an edge over the competition.
According to historian Scott M. Cutlip (author of The Unseen Power), it was one day in 1918 that Schwab arranged a meeting with a highly respected productivity consultant named Ivy Lee.
As the story goes, Schwab brought Lee into his office and said, “Show me a way to get more things done”. Lee replied, “Give me 15 minutes with each of your executives”.
“How much will it cost me?” Schwab asked. “Nothing”, Lee said, “Unless it works. After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it’s worth to you”.
During his 15 minutes with each executive, Lee explained his simple method for achieving peak productivity.
At the end of each workday, write down the 6 most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than 6 tasks.
Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion.
The strategy sounded simple, yet Schwab and his executive team gave it a try.
After 3 months, Schwab was so delighted that he called Lee into his office and wrote him a check for $25,000.
At today’s value, that equates to almost $500,000. Not bad for 3 months of productivity gain.
Try out the Ivy Lee method for yourself, for the next 3 months.
The next day, you’ll find that you begin with greater purpose and focus and the day seems run more smoothly.
We’re all guilty of procrastination, more often than we’d like to admit, so here are a few more tips that may help you be more productive in life.
Procrastination may not be just about turning in your school report/work project at the last minute.
It may also be putting off important life decisions like whether or not you should ask your boss for that raise he promised last month or whether you should join a gym, leave your boyfriend, have a baby, it’s endless.
If you don’t start learning how to stop putting things off, you’ll have to deal with procrastination your whole life which may have a negative effect on your relationships, career and personal health.
The thought process behind procrastination is that we believe there’s always tomorrow, so why not just steer clear of the stress and anxiety and just put it off until later. So, this is the first thing you need to tackle.
It won’t be easy but try to figure out what the stress factor is behind your procrastination. It could be fear of failure, fear of confrontation, fear of not being perfect.
You are your own worst critic. You judge your flaws and imperfections way too harshly.
Yet studies show that when you forgive yourself for putting things off or not getting things done as perfectly as you would’ve liked, it can actually help fend off procrastination.
Most importantly, have realistic goals before you give yourself a hard time.
Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Find a way to get started in less than two minutes. -James ClearClick to tweet
Sometimes we tend to bite off more than we can chew, then we go off the deep end because the end result wasn’t anywhere what we had envisioned.
Follow the next four tips as well as the ‘100-year old way to get more things done’, to help you avoid procrastination once and for all.
Turn burdensome tasks into habits
We all have enough willpower to get about 4 tasks done each day.
Habits use other parts of our brain rather than the prefrontal cortex which is associated with rational thinking.
When you train yourself to do something out of habit, rather than look at it as a mundane task, you think about it less which means you’re using less willpower and you won’t fall into the procrastination rut.
Why not turn healthy eating, daily exercise or turning in reports ahead of time into daily habits as well?
After that it becomes easier, yet you still have to keep yourself motivated and inspired. Procrastination is all about taking that dreaded first step.
So why not ease into it with the knowledge that after a certain amount of time or once I’ve finished X, I can watch videos on YouTube or go get a cup of coffee.
Make it pleasant for yourself because the reward is the part that the brain assimilates to gauge your enjoyment level.
If you’re happy, then your brain slowly turns this task into a habit which you look forward to, instead of something you dread on a daily basis.
Break work tasks into chunks
Instead of cleaning out the entire garage, do the right side first, take a break, then do the left side, take a break, then finish off the rest.
At work, big tasks may seem daunting when you look at them as a whole. The answer?
Break it down into smaller tasks. Make an outline of the entire project, and then divide it up into smaller tasks.
Working in 30-minute increments also helps break down tasks into smaller chunks which are manageable and not so intimidating. After the 30 minutes, take a break and assess your work.
Seeing how much you’ve accomplished will give you that boost of confidence you need to keep at it.
Checking your email every 5 minutes isn’t doing you any good.
Once you’ve committed to doing the job, limit distractions by putting your away.
The important thing is that you set up a certain time for checking emails or your social media and once you’ve started your task, you avoid the urge to take a sneak peak.
Another serious distraction is multi-tasking. Even though it may seem that you’re being productive, the truth is it’s a complete waste of time and energy.
Think about it, it takes your brain about 20 minutes to completely focus on one task and give it 100%. Then you bring in another task which means you decrease your focus level by half, bring in a third task and the focus drops even lower.
So even though you’re working more, your end results will be below average.
Work during your peak hours
We all have certain times during the day when we’re most alert. Some of us are morning people, some are night owls and some have more energy during the afternoon hours.
Find out what your peak hours are and tackle your most difficult tasks then.
You’ll be more of a powerhouse then with your brain working at its maximum capacity.
Procrastination is different than being lazy because when you procrastinate, you delay doing something for a more pleasurable task.
Why not turn that mundane task you’re dreading, into something more fun and enjoyable and kill off the urge to procrastinate?
Plus, have a go at using Ivy Lee’s method as shown in the video at this post. It’s another of those great habits that will help “outgrow” any tendencies to procrastinate.
Video and post inspired by an email I recently received from Karl Moore from Inspire3, who also has (ad) a great movie about manifesting that you can see here.