3 Simple Steps to Be More Productive
I’ve decided to start a new blog series where I tell you about books I have found helpful as a small business owner. Once a month, I plan to review and highlight the key benefits of each book. The purpose of each review is to help you be more productive, set goals, focus and create a more amazing business, all while still enjoying your life.
I read a lot. Sometimes for enjoyment other times to learn. In the last five years I have read a considerable number of business, motivation and self-improvement books. Some have been well-worth the read, others not so much. So, in an effort to save you time and help your small business, I’m going to share some of the books I found helpful. Here’s my first recommendation.
If you are not familiar with Brian Tracy, this book is a great introduction. He is motivational and has a way of breaking elements down into manageable parts. Here is one of my favorite, pinnable, Brian Tracy quotes.
Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy is one of my all-time favorite books for anyone in business. I use it as a guideline for how I begin each day. He outlines and details very simple steps that will make a huge difference in your day. What if you don’t run a business? If you run a household, you will also see great benefit from what I am about to share.
Now, let’s take a look at what I think are the 3 Key Benefits that will improve your day.
1. Plan Each Day in Advance
Brian Tracy suggests that in order to be productive, you need to plan your day in advance. An important part of that plan is to break down larger tasks into manageable parts. For instance, if you have to write an e-book for a client, instead of your list saying “write e-book”, your list should look something like this;
- Define the audience
- Determine scope of project
- Craft a working title
- Create an outline
- Work on rough draft for outline items 1 and 2
- Research quotes to support your points
- Write a first draft
- Send first draft to editor
- Revise as suggested
- Decide on graphic designer to create final look
What does this have to do with eating a frog? According to Mr. Tracy,
How do you eat an elephant? The answer is one bite at a time! You break it down into specific step-by-step activities and then you start on the first one.
I like to make notes using Evernote. For any to-do list, I use check boxes. I love looking to see how many items I have checked off of my list. It’s a great way to gauge how productive you are and to redirect yourself if you are getting off track. For more on using Evernote, join my newsletter community to receive a free e-book that mentions Evernote and many other productivity tools. You can sign up here, or at the bottom of this post.
Could you use an extra two hours in your day? Brian says, “you can increase your productivity and output by 25 percent or more – two hour a day – from the first day that you begin working consistently from a list.” [pg.15]
2. Apply the 80/20 Rule
Also known as the Pareto Principle, it says that 20 percent of your activity will account for 80 percent of your results. Brian uses the example of having a list of ten items, and two of those items will be more valuable than all of the others. What does that mean? If you apply the 80/20 Rule to your customers it means that 20 percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your business. If you apply the 80/20 Rule to your health, it would mean that 20 percent of time that you take planning meals and workouts will account for 80 percent of your success.
This is a great lesson for any solopreneur. One of my favorite quotes in the book is,
…you must adamantly refuse to work on tasks in the bottom 80 percent while you still have tasks in the top 20 percent left to be done.
This one simple line in Eat That Frog! helped me to realize that I can’t possibly do it all. After reading this book I decided to outsource as many of the tasks in the 80 percent as I could. Realistically, they were all items that kept me busy – not productive. I outsourced social media posts for a client, graphic creation for some projects and other tasks that could easily be completed by someone other than me. That gave me time to focus on blog posts and manageable tasks for larger projects.
3. Create Large Chunks of Time
Working uninterrupted will have a tremendous impact on your productivity. Consider having that list I talked about in #1 above. Now imagine, if, each time you started to work on your rough draft, your phone rang. Then a Facebook message pops up. Then you get a few text messages. Then you get distracted by Facebook newsfeed when you are reading that message. The list of distractions can end up longer than your to-do list. Now think about how much time you would have wasted if you responded and/or reacted to all of those distractions. Would it be an hour, three hours? Who knows, but I do know that you likely would not accomplish even the top 20 percent of your list. You would probably end up having those same items on your list tomorrow and the next day and the next day.
Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all of your energies on a limited set of targets. -Nido Qubein
So what should you do? For starters, close Facebook. Then put your phone on “do not disturb”. Make sure you allow for spouse and kids to reach you. You never know when there could be an emergency. This is easily done by adding them to your Favorites list.
Want to go one step further? This is a BIG one. Brian Tracy says it perfectly,
One of the most valuable take-aways from this book is to make appointments with myself and keep them. I planned each day. Each week it was the same schedule –
7:30 am Create my list for the day.
8:00 am Make and foster connections on LinkedIn.
8:30 am Send and return work emails.
9:00 am – 2:00 pm Work on top 20 percent of my list, by breaking down larger items.
10:00 am Walk the dog.
4:00 pm Check in with social media accounts. Engage with followers.
8:00 am – noon Create all social media posts for next week and schedule in Hootsuite.
This is just a sample of what I did. Planning and sticking to that plan works. If you need to, set a timer. If you keep seeing that you need more time for a certain task, then adjust the time allotted in your schedule next week.
This is just a small sampling of the wisdom Brian shares in Eat That Frog! If you goal is to be more productive, read the book from cover-to-cover. Make sure you have a highlighter handy along with some sticky notes. It’s a book you will refer back to time and time again.
Here’s a link to the Kindle version: Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
Have you read Eat That Frog? Are you more productive following any of the tips? Share below. I’d love to know what you thought.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”