Pure Genius: Transform Your Productivity With This Simple Tool
“You may as well be great today, because you’re going to put the time in regardless!”
This sums up my sentiments on productivity, passion, Genius, and making a difference in everything you do every day—from the way you work, to the way you parent, partner, or exercise—you may as well be productive and feel good about what you accomplished.
So…what did you accomplish today? Did it seem worthwhile? Did it make a difference in someone’s life? Given the choice, would you repeat the activities you did today, or replace them with others?
All fair questions, especially if you are pursuing a life of meaning, significance, and contribution.
How To Up the Ante
We love neuroscience. We love simplicity. Most brilliant concepts are at their core, quite simple.
Give your brain a concept, idea, or challenge, and your brain gets to work…right away. You see, your brain is rather agnostic, works 24/7, and holds unlimited creativity when in the right mood. Why not put it to work every day? And if you’re going to put it to work, why not put it fully to work on what’s most important?
Well, neuroscientists claim that your brain can hold 7 ideas, concepts, ‘to-do’s’, numbers, etc. at one time. Clearly, we will not argue with neuroscientists, as they tend to be smarter than we are. However, if your mind is capable of holding 7 items, doesn’t it make sense that having that same mind focus on fewer items would simply condense that concentration and focus more intently, since there is less to worry about?
Again, we agree.
We all get the same hours each day, and yet what gets produced, created, or ideated in that time varies wildly between any two people. One person assesses their contribution as ‘significant’ and another feels stuck in ‘administrivia.’
Our claim: You can transform your productivity when you limit your focus to one primary objective, and two secondary objectives each day.
Have you seen the calendar of a productive person? Generally, their daily calendar is organized, yes, and limited in the quantity and variety of activities to accomplish each day. Their system tends to rely on discernment in the planning, and quality in the execution.
How would it feel to know that you had only one primary focus each day? Truth is, you do. That primary focus simply gets tossed in with several less important agenda items, until such time as you feel like the day may have gotten away from you.
The Breakthrough in Productivity
As soon as you log onto your computer each day, you have entered someone else’s agenda. Email is the perfect example. Checking your email, answering, deleting, or “opting-out” of emails requires you to react to someone else’s agenda.
For optimal productivity, what if you knew in advance of the start of your day, the key objective to accomplish, as well as the secondary and tertiary objectives? We call that your “Top Three”, and there is a clear “Top ONE” to accomplish.
The definition of a “Top ONE” equals this: The successful completion of this ONE objective equals a successful day, all by itself.
Great for clarity, huh? But if the completion of the Top ONE equals a successful day all by itself, what would accomplishing of the Top Three equal? In short, it would equal a great day! Pieced together successively, you would then create a great week, a great month, quarter, year, or decade.
You get the idea.
Here’s the system in terms of the actions to take:
- Discern – those activities (only three) that would create a successful day.
- Plan – the time and atmosphere needed in order to accomplish.
- Protect – the work (or play) resources to complete the objectives chosen.
- Execute – your Top ONE first, before you move to your Top Two or Top Three.
- Assess and Discern – how you did today, and then set up tomorrow.
The system works from day to day, focusing on the Top ONE each day. Simple. Achievable. Malleable.
The Top Down Approach
How the heck can you succeed when you accomplish less?
The “trick” is focusing on important and impactful objectives in less quantity, in such a way that your brain only has to create and solve in fewer areas. Accomplishing more important objectives in less quantity tends to eliminate the need to take care of the seemingly endless list of smaller objectives. You end up with a greater feeling of accomplishment, since, by definition, the completion of your Top ONE equals a successful day all by itself, and because you protect yourself from the “brain drain” connected to too many meetings, calls, or tasks that do not produce big results.
In order to do so, your day has to start with the focus on your Top ONE, and then work down, rather than “taking care of some smaller items before I get to my important ones.” Ever get to the early afternoon, with that heavy feeling that you have worked hard and simply fallen further behind? We all have. The “Top Down Approach” avoids that trap.
Start with the simple system on any spreadsheet. Comment below, and I will send you a template that you can customize.
First, you start with your Top ONE and Top Three for your year. If you held one objective that equated to a successful year all by itself, what would that be? Then what would the second and third objectives be?
Move down (remember, “top down”) to your quarter. What is your Top ONE and Top Three of the quarter? Then your month, week, and day. Each follows the same focus—one primary, and two secondary—in order to create purposeful discernment.
With this system, you create the dilemma on purpose: What objectives are worthy of my time, attention, and focus? If given only three, you have to make them count. The world slows down a bit, compared to a longer list of lesser important items. For any given day, your spreadsheet might look like this: attention, and focus? If given only three, you have to make them count. The world slows down a bit, compared to a longer list of lesser important items. For any given day, your spreadsheet might look like this:
|Top Three Objective for Wed, Jan 27, 2016|
|Top ONE||Book Chet Schwartz as paying client.|
|Top Two||Film video blog: Aggravation Tax in Business|
|Top Three||Write blog: Money = Energy|
Imagine if this were the whole day for you? You certainly could and would accomplish more, but your focus and priority were centered upon these three items? Life would become simpler, yes, and tracking key objectives would replace lots of lesser activities.
In the end, the little items tend to take care of themselves, because your focus on more important objectives.
Now, combine this with a week that also holds Top Three’s. You would still have your day (today) as well as your week, in order to discern, plan, protect, and execute. Your week and day together on your daily planner might look this:
|Top Three Objectives for Wed, Jan 27, 2016||Top Three for week of Jan 25 - Jan 31, 2016|
|Top ONE||Book Chet Schwartz as paying client.||Top ONE||Book TWO new paying clients.|
|Top Two||Film video blog: Aggravation Tax in Business||Top Two||Complete booking of European vacation in August|
|Top Three||Write blog: Money = Energy||Top Three||Hire PT assistant to help with finances and planning|
Notice that today’s objectives are not necessarily directly connected to the week’s Top Three, but can be. As long as I make progress on my weekly Top ONE and Top Three throughout the week, that week becomes successful.
The Energy Associated With Success
When you get stuck with days on end of ‘administrivia’ how does it feel when you leave work? How about when you get ready to drive to work in the morning?
The feeling we hold connected to the quality and contribution of the work we do goes a long way towards the energy we hold as a contributing factor to a great life.
What would it feel like to string together a series of “successful” days, and create a successful week? Take that a step further and string a set of successful weeks together and create a great month, then months into a quarter and quarters into a year.
You get the idea.
Nothing shifts your personal energy level more than living in the ecosystem founded upon purpose, significance, and contribution. It affects your physical energy level. It contributes to a healthier body and mind. It actually improves your health and sex life.
All by focusing on less…and accomplishing what really matters?
Active discernment does just that, as you accomplish from the most important down, rather than the other way around.
Comment below, and I’ll send you a template to use starting today.
All the best!