Today I want to talk about the very important concept of productivity and – more to the point – getting things done.
We’re going to focus on a couple of theoretical points, including a look at one of the best self-development books of modern times, and then I’ll give you some rock-solid pointers on how you can be more productive in your business and filmmaking life.
GETTING THINGS DONE
One of the ways we can keep the hustler fires burning is to fall in love with getting things done. Getting things done can mean different things to different people, but in this case it means anything where you achieve a task or goal, however big or small.
In fact, small can be good. Being able to successfully tick off multiple tasks and achievements in one day is a great way to go to bed feeling fulfilled, as well as priming yourself for the larger, more complex and demanding, tasks that lay ahead.
- Write down a list of fairly small tasks and goals that you can feasibly do in an average day.
- Do this at the beginning of every day, preferably just after waking up, whilst you’re still sipping your morning coffee.
- Throughout the day, complete those tasks and tick them off as you go, taking in the pride and accomplishment and awesome feeling of moving forward with your life.
You may have come across this before, as it’s a pretty standard to-do list.
This process makes unmanageable things much more achievable. You can also do this with larger tasks/goals – break up a huge or difficult goal into smaller, bite sized chunks.
Sometimes, breaking a goal into its component parts is a much more efficient way to achieve it. Before you know it, the goal is accomplished and you didn’t even know it was happening because you were dealing with bite sized pieces, as opposed to biting off more than you can chew!
It was the esteemed Ferris Bueller who said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around sometimes, then you might miss it!”
Well, treating goals like this is a better way to deal with the speed and ceaseless pace of life.
There’s actually a book called Getting Things Done, by the way, and it’s fantastic. I can’t talk about something like this without quoting from it’s author David Allen: “There is usually an inverse proportion between how much something is on your mind and how much it’s getting done.”
There’s a constant battle going on inside your mind. It’s a struggle for control, control over how you spend your time.
Productivity expert Theodore Bryant, who I mentioned briefly in another post, describes this struggle in his book Self-Discipline in 10 Days. In the course of examining human behaviour and conducting thousands of seminars, workshops and programs all over the world, he’s determined a theory of productivity and how we can eliminate procrastination for good.
Procrastination is that most self deceptive and time destroying of foes – it drains you of energy and robs you of life…slowly.
Bryant gives procrastination a face. He labels it as Hyde, the side of everyone that attempts to disrupt self-disciplined effort with a persuasive internal voice. Hyde tells you to just sit down and watch TV, that essay will write itself. It tells you to ignore chores and housework around your house because a few more hours of pointless Internet surfing is much more important. It’s that little voice that encourages you to check your email at 5 minute intervals throughout the day.
Yes, you know Hyde pretty well, don’t you?
On the other side of the equation, sitting on your other shoulder like an angel to Hyde’s devil, is Dr. Jekyll. Jekyll is the self-disciplined side of you that urges you to do your work, to write that business plan and to put off endless social media surfing for more important tasks.
These different sides of our personalities encourage us to go in different directions, and we sometimes find ourselves being pulled every which way, at odds with these two sides.
Inner conflict is the result. While part of you wants to clean the bathroom and sort out your finances, another part of you wants to curl up on the couch with a tub of ice cream and just pig out to some re-runs of Battlestar Gallactica.
It’s a great show, by the way, but that’s not the point.
Bryant instructs us not to think of Hyde as an enemy, but instead to see Hyde as a part of you that you need to convince to join your side – your Jekyll side. Yes, you can recruit Hyde.
Let’s look at some ways to recruit Hyde and avoid procrastination:
1. Become aware of Hyde. Like any self-help doctrine, this is no different – awareness is key.
2. If you hear yourself coming up with excuses as to why you can’t do something in order to accomplish a goal you’ve set for yourself, remind yourself that it’s just Hyde’s tactics, his way of preventing you from doing what you have to do.
3. In order to counteract Hyde’s negative talk, use action oriented self-talk.
Action oriented self-talk is in the positive, specific and uses the present tense. How many times have you set aside time to do a chore like cleaning out your desk or car, but hours later you find you’ve been anything but productive. In fact, you’ve found new ways to waste time.
What exactly happened?
Hyde reared his head and convinced you to do distracted. When we don’t want to do something, we’ll find anything in order to distance ourselves from the task at hand. Replace Hyde’s self-defeating subconscious messages with positive, specific and present tense messages.
HOW TO USE ACTION ORIENTED SELF-TALK
Communication is key.
Once you have made the decision to clean out that desk or your car, begin saying the following out loud: “I am now organising and cleaning out my desk.”
Yeah, it may seem a little stupid at first, but stay with it.
When you do this, the subconscious mind will turn all of its attention to cleaning out your desk, regardless of what you may actually be doing at the time. You take the power away from Hyde. Your energy and movement goes where you focus.
Your subconscious mind will begin sending its messages and, all of a sudden, you will begin to look for ways to organize your closet.
You’re sitting in front of the TV watching a favorite show. As you sit there, a part of you begins to think that your time could be used more productively by working on that assignment that needs to be in for Monday. However, your Hyde side shouts: “I’m watching my favorite show!”
At this point, your subconscious turns all of its resources toward watching the TV show. There’s no focus on the more productive task of writing the assignment. Instead, Jekyll needs to say: “I’m working on my assignment.”
Suddenly, your subconcious begins to render resources in the direction of writing that assignment.
You’ll begin to feel agitated as you sit there zoning out in front of the TV. You’ll start getting ideas for what you’re going to include in your assignment. You’ll feel like getting up, sitting at your kitchen table, pulling that assignment out and getting to work.
As long as you keep repeating your positive, specific and present tense message, you’ll feel compelled to work on your assignment. Repetition is the key to success. If you say it out loud, it will be even more powerful than simply repeating it silently.
It’s like magic. Try it.
Hyde is a devious foe. He might try to convince you that you will eventually take action to achieve your goals. “Later” is his favorite word. Everything can be done later.
After all, if you want to join that gym and start working out, then it’d be a crime if you didn’t go out and purchase a new workout kit first. I mean, those old t-shirts in your wardrobe just won’t cut it – you can’t be seen in that new gym like that. Add if you want to buy new gym clothes, you really should sort out that credit card balance. Getting out of debt is, after all, one of your goals.
Working out is suddenly relagated to later. It joins the growing crowd of laters.
GETTING PAST LATER
How do you combat Hyde’s tactics here? Ask yourself if this really is a pressing issue, or if Hyde’s tactics are yet another one of his “later” ruses.
You’re thinking about making some important business calls to prospects, but…waitaminute…there’s that bathroom painting that you’ve been putting off. What!? That bathroom painting suddenly has importance? Weren’t you putting that off yesterday?
It’s funny how one impending case of procrastination can trump another. Hyde sets up levels to the procrastination.
There’s a funny way to deal with this, and it involves playing a little mental trick on yourself. Use one case of procrastination to encourage you to do something else.
In the example I just mentioned, you could encourage yourself to take action on the business calls by…creating a mass of housework. Designate such an avalance of impending chores that you’ll have no choice but to make the business calls.
There’s nothing wrong with forcing the hustle.
I hope this helped you to blast past some of the obstacles that were holding you back. Let me know in the comments below if this helped you.
Thanks for reading!