12 Productivity Tips for the New Year

The title of the bookette caught my eye: “Shave 10 Hours Off Your Workweek.” The recommendation wasn’t to leave at three. [Insert banker joke here.]

Author Michael Hyatt is the former CEO of a large book publisher. Since retiring a few years back, he has been “virtually mentoring” people, helping them become more productive.

Hyatt would readily admit that productivity starts with the heart. He would likely point to one of his former authors, John Eldredge, whose writing on desire helps people recover what really motivates them.

But many of us need help with the practical. How do I turn goals into action? How do I keep from getting distracted by a world gone mad? How do I create the space necessary to accomplish what is really important to me?

Here are some effectiveness-enhancing ideas from Hyatt’s writings:

  1. Eliminate the word “try” from your vocabulary. Either decide to do something or don’t do it. “Try” is a cop-out word that makes you feel like you’re doing something when you’re really not.

  2. Don’t complain about others. The people who hear you won’t think less of them; they’ll think less of you.

  3. The secret to achieving more is not managing your time. It’s managing yourself and your energy. Time can’t be expanded. Energy can.

  4. Take naps. DaVinci, Einstein, Edison, Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, JFK and Reagan all did. Less than thirty minutes in the early afternoon will focus you for the balance. Pick a place that works for you: an empty office, your car, a janitor’s closet. Hyatt gives plenty of research to support the practice.

  5. Remember the Big Three: diet, sleep, exercise. These are often the first to go when we get overwhelmed. Reality is: if you snooze, you don’t lose. Along with sound nutrition and mind-clearing exercise, rest resets you physically and emotionally.

  6. Become a morning person. Slay the three-headed dragon Lethargy. Attack its spiritual head (Pneuma) with Scripture reading, its physical head (Soma) with exercise and its intellectual head (Nous) with thought-provoking audio books.

  7. Guard your time. Hyatt quotes first century philosopher Seneca. “People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.”

  8. Constantly move to-do list items to your calendar.

  9. Make appointments with yourself. Then, when someone asks to encroach on your time, you can honestly say you are committed – to the things that are most important.

  10. Disconnect from the web. Respond to emails and phone calls 2 or 3 times a day, not constantly all day long, so you can focus large blocks of time on your core work.

  11. Triage your activity. In emergency medicine, there are three possibilities for every case (hence, the tri- in triage) :

(A) survival without medical attention;

(B) death even with attention; and

(C) survival with proper attention.

Medical professionals focus on Category C. It’s the same with our priorities. Some will save themselves and some aren’t worth saving. So, elevate those that will make a significant difference if given proper focus.

  1. Say no more. Discover the positive impact of a negative word. Saying “no” is really about saying “yes” to what matters most.

Kevin Thompson writes for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

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