Maximizing Your Productivity
Productivity is not just determined by one thing but can be improved in various ways. In fact, there are different dimensions in which you can enhance your productivity. We call this The Eisenhower Productivity Trifecta, a trifecta being a situation when three things come together perfectly at the same time.
The Eisenhower Productivity Trifecta describes all the three dimensions influencing productivity:
- Planning: When you plan your life on a vision board or draft your quarterly objectives and the key results to achieve by their priority, you are in the dimension of planning.
- Timing: When you make room in your calendar to finish up an important assignment well before the deadline, thus preventing stress, you are in the dimension of timing.
- Doing: When you seek out a quiet environment, such as a public library, to fully focus on working – shutting down your mobile phone and its notifications for as little distraction as possible – you are in the dimension of doing.
The dimension of planning involves vision-aligned planning of prioritized goals, broken down into projects with granular tasks observed as single steps.
First, you must build and hold true to your vision. Ask yourself: What is your purpose in life? What is your why? Make this your guide as you plan your life, business or career and break down bigger categories into each decade, year and quarter. Stick to your vision and stop doing things not aligned with, or not contributing towards, your vision.
Next, determine individual goals which need to be broken down to accomplish your vision. Set yourself specific and measurable goals. All goals should be connected either to bigger goals or your vision. Since circumstances – and occasionally your vision – might change, many people plan their goals on a yearly basis and then break them down per quarter or per month.
There are many different frameworks to help you better nail a realistic but inspiring goal. One such framework is Objective & Key Results (“OKR”). Want to learn more? We have an introduction to settings goals and a how-to for planning with OKR.
Finally, identify individual projects for each goal and clarify the many small steps along the way. In reality, creating success is all about building upon your previous progress with small, incremental steps. Aim for less complex tasks in order to increase your chance of success and boost your motivation with easily measured progress. The less but more important tasks you plan with, the more you can focus your efforts.
The dimension of timing involves the decision of when to start while also keeping in mind best practices for the management of time and energy levels.
First, you must add the dimension of time to your plan. Introduce estimates, constraints or dependencies, and deadlines to your tasks for each goal. Determine when something should be accomplished and explicitly plan the time for when you will work on it — pick the time of day or habit-creating repetition to create a schedule for the task.
Be careful to not overcommit. Do not plan or commit on deadlines that are unrealistic or forget to include reasonable buffers that will prevent stress when, as always, something does not go according to plan. Do not feed your “urgency addiction” – many people start important tasks as late as possible, driven by deadlines and commitments to others. Even if you are motivated by somewhat existential threats, it comes with a lot of stress, little chance for course correction and limited room for creativity.
Be sure to watch your energy levels. Every human being has a unique body cycle with peak hours. These are the times you should plan to work on the most important tasks. Keeping your body and mind healthy is also important when managing your energy levels. Do not forget that diet and fitness are just as important as a sufficient amount of sleep. And never forget to take time for healthy breaks in order to recharge, whether it is just an active pause with fresh air or an entire vacation with your family.
The dimension of doing is strictly focused on small accomplishments in a distraction-free environment.
First, start every day by reviewing your plan and priorities. Start with the most important thing first.
Next, establish the best focus and flow with your own ritual. This can be as simple as sitting down at your desk with noise-cancelling headphones, a clear plan on what to work on and a timer. Work on only one task at a time. Prevent or fight distractions: shut down your phone and its notifications; say “no” to less important opportunities that come along while you are trying to finish your most important task for the day. This might be the one that gets you closer to your long-term goal so fighting distractions is crucial.
And finally, enjoy the habit-building happy feeling of completion as you accomplish each task. Cross things off and celebrate progress – even with something as small as taking a coffee break outside of the office.