I often get asked how I get so much done. This question surprises me, because I always feel like there’s something more to do. But I guess that means I’m accomplishing the right things!
Here are my 3 top tips for increasing productivity (more detail in the video above):
1. Ideas have a shelf life. Use them before they expire.
If you have a great idea and you don’t implement it immediately, someone else will. I think that ideas exist somewhere in the ether and are just waiting to be snatched up. A bunch of different people often take action on the same idea around the same time.
I feel pressure to run with an idea before it goes bad. That doesn’t mean that all ideas are ripe, though. Sometimes you need to let an idea evolve into its fully formed state before you pick it. But once you pick it, you can’t let it wilt on your idea shelf.
2. Pick a date. Announce it to the world.
I’m easily motivated by external things. So if I tell someone that I’m doing something, I’ll follow through. If you’ve been putting something off for a long time, use outside accountability to help you get it done.
Picking a date and making a contract with someone else works wonders. It’s responsible for the Off The Charts Live event, this weekly show taping, and the creation of some of my products.
3. Set aside creation and communication days.
Balance your creation time and consumption time. Depending on the type of business you run, you might find that your tasks generally fall into one of these two categories.
When it’s time to create, you generally need 20-30 minutes to really get into the zone. But if you’re interrupted or you need to stop working, your whole flow will come to a halt. That’s one reason creative people and programmers like to work late at night or early in the morning — other people aren’t around to interrupt them.
But if you’re running a business, you’re not operating in a vacuum. You need to talk to people to make things happen. This means answering emails, talking phone calls, and attending meetings. Maximize your productivity by scheduling all communication tasks on the same day.
I have my calendar set up so that I have one or two creation days in a row, followed by one or two communication days a week. That doesn’t mean that I don’t check email or never take a call on creation days, but I try not to break my flow as much as possible.
This setup works well for me. Find what works for you, but be aware of the time you’re spending communicating and consuming versus the time you’re spending implementing and creating.
A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s blog.