How to plan your most productive day in just 5 minutes

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for strategies that help me get the right work done in the least possible time.

Popularly known as “get more done in less time”.

That’s why today I’m sharing this deceivingly simple prioritization process that takes all of FIVE minutes and will make a big difference in your ability to be productive and get work done.

And the best part? It’s not just any old work that you’ll be finishing.

You’ll be planning your most productive day by focusing on only the most essential tasks and projects that actually align with your goals and your business.

how to have the most productive day

Because who has time to waste on “busy work” that makes us feel like we’re moving ahead in our business, while actually keeping us firmly and hopelessly stuck at the same place.

If you want to create more impact in your business, but don’t want to burn out doing it, give this simple 5-minute process a try today:

Step 1: Grab some pen and paper

Get out 2 blank sheets of paper and your favorite pen(s). On the first blank sheet, take a minute or two to jot down everything you could work on this day, or absolutely need to work on this day (also known as a brain dump).

(Tip: Don’t forget about open projects and commitments. Lots of business owners tend to overlook this in the excitement of setting ‘new goals’ and that causes a lot of guilt and procrastination)

Step 2: Follow the 3’s

From the list of items on your brain dump, pick 3 things – the top 3 things that MUST get done this day - and put a star next to them.

As entrepreneurs, we tend to be chronic to-do list overachievers, which means we crowd our plates, get overwhelmed, and unknowingly, use it as a reason to procrastinate. 

At most, we can only focus on 3 quality and important projects at a time (day, week, month). 

So when you set yourself the limit of choosing only three things to focus on in the day, you automatically pick out the 3 most doable tasks/projects, knowing that you can tackle it without getting overwhelmed.

Step 3: Pick the extras

Go through the list and choose 2 more things that COULD get done this day, if you have more time, and put an arrow next to them. 

Step 4: Time to get things done

On the second sheet of paper, pick out and write down the task that is easiest or quickest to finish. Set yourself a time limit for the task (how long do you think it will take you to finish it?), actually write it down, along with what time it is when you start, and get started on it immediately. 

Step 5: Track your time

When you’ve finished the first task, physically cross it out or check it off. Also make a note of what time you stopped and how long it actually took you to finish the task. 

Then, do the same thing with the second starred item on your list. 

Write down an estimate of how long it will take you to complete the task, write down the time you get started, and get going.

Repeat this with your third starred item, and if you don’t get to anything else, pat yourself on the back for finishing all top 3 priorities for the day. 

If you do have extra time, and you’re up for the challenge, tackle the next two items with the arrows on your list and follow the same steps as before.

This works three-folds:

  1. By writing down an estimate of the time you think it will take to complete the task, you actually use Parkinson’s Law, which says that work expands so as to fill the time we make available for its completion, to give yourself a deadline and a time limit within which to complete your tasks.

    Also, by noting down the time you start, you effectively set the clock ticking. 

    You give yourself a real starting point and that focuses your mind and helps you get laser-focused.
     
  2. Choosing the quickest and easiest task to start with helps builds momentum, which intrinsically motivates you to tackle the remaining tasks, and you don’t burn out on your first task.
     
  3. Physically crossing off an item on the list lets you see the progress you are making and helps build the confidence to keep pursuing your goals. 

There is no “secret sauce” that makes setting and achieving goals super easy or foolproof. 

It is also not the prerogative of the ‘successful’ business owners to be productive and get things done. 

Any success and progress really only comes from taking action and putting one foot in front of the other consistently.

If you’re serious about growing your business and building the life you dream of, you need to realise that it starts with small, daily actions.

Because how you do anything is how you do everything.

That’s why I want to encourage you to give this simple 5-minute prioritization process a try right now to have your most productive day ever.

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Let me know the project or task you finished using this process in the comments below!