The Importance of Why

The Importance of Why

In the newly released and highly acclaimed productivity book “Smarter, Better, Faster,” Charles Duhigg opens with a chapter about motivation. He asserts that those who have control and understand the big picture are more motivated. He writes, “If you can link something hard to a choice you care about, it makes the task easier.” He adds, “Make a chore into a meaningful decision, and self-motivation will emerge.”

So many of us spend a lot of time and energy making lists, tracking tasks and keeping up with all of the things that we need to get done. But, how many of us are asking, “Why?” Why should I do this task? Why is this task important? Why should I spend any time on this task? Why is this beneficial?

Early in my career, someone shared a great story that stuck with me and have since shared with many of my team members and colleagues over the years. A man is walking by a construction site and comes across three workers doing the same job. He stops and asks the first one, “What are you doing?” The man quickly replied, “I am laying bricks.” He then asked the second guy the same question but he responded, “I am building a wall.” The man then turned to the third guy and when he asked him the same question, the guy stood up, paused and smiled and looked to the sky and then shared, “I am constructing a cathedral.”

While each of them were doing the same task, they thought of their work completely differently. There’s a big difference in terms of thinking that you’re just laying bricks versus constructing a cathedral. Through their descriptions of their work, you can tell which of the three workers would be most motivated, driven and productive.

So, next time you’re about to start a new task begin by asking yourself, “Why?” If you can’t come up with a strong answer, it’s fine to just remove that task from your list and move on to the things that have greater meaning and significance. You will find that’s motivation enough.

TRY THIS OUT: Think about the things that you rush to complete and love to do. What motivates you to do them? What drives you to get them done? Then, think about some of the things that linger on your list. Why don’t they get done? Think about how you can attach a greater meaning or calling to those tasks to increase your motivation to tackle and complete them.

The Lingering Task

The Lingering Task

When talking to people about how they manage their tasks and whether or not they keep a to-do list, inevitably the conversation turns to how their lists get too long and overwhelming. When that happens, many people get frustrated and just give up on the list.

The most troubling aspect of maintaining a to-do list is the annoyance of the lingering task that just stays on the list and never gets done. When you break it down, there are really only a few reasons why certain tasks linger longer than others. Here’s how you can get rid of those lingering tasks.

JUST DO IT

Some tasks are important but for whatever reason, we just don’t want to do it. We just keep procrastinating and avoid the task altogether. In “Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time,” Brian Tracy popularizes the old adage that if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. He suggests that you should take your most important but dreaded task and just attack it, get it done and move on.

DELETE IT

Successfully maintaining a to-do list is not just about completing items but making decisions about what’s most important and also what should be removed from the list. Sometimes you add a task to your list with all good intentions of getting it done, but over time it lingers on the list because it’s just not that important. In that case, it’s OK and should just be deleted from your list. If it’s important enough, you can always add it back to your list later.

BREAK IT DOWN

Other tasks stay on your list because they are just too big and overwhelming to tackle. In this case, break it down and create a task just for the first step. Once that’s complete, you can then create a task for the next step. For example, if you added a task to “Plan the Party” I bet it never gets done. Instead, start with some of the following:

  • Set Date for the Party
  • Create Guest List
  • Draft Party Invitation
  • Select Menu

You’ll find that you will have much more success tackling and completing the smaller, quicker and easier tasks. Similarly, instead of creating a task to “Read a Book,” you can break it down into specific chapters.

Keep in mind, the magic of a to-do list is in checking things off the list and not letting tasks linger.

TRY THIS OUT:  Look at your to-do list and review the tasks that have been on your list for over two weeks. First, decide which ones you can just delete. Then, start to break down the tasks that are too big. Finally, if it’s important make it your top priority for tomorrow and just get it done.

The Magic of Having One To-Do List

The Magic of Having One To-Do List

Much has been written and debated about whether or not you need to have a to-do list. According to my informal research, some people are able to remember everything in their heads, others have many, many lists and notes all over the place, and only 12% of respondents say they maintain one centralized list of all of their tasks.

As a life-long maker and maintainer of a to-do list, I can attest to the value of establishing and maintaining one central list of all of your tasks. It can be paper, digital or you can use my new app, priorigami: the art of productivity. Here are the magical benefits of having a single to-do list.

FREE YOUR MIND

Any given day there are a million random thoughts running through your head. By writing all of your tasks down, you can relieve your mind from having to remember everything and free it to do the important work. While our brains are really good at solving problems or being creative, they are not good storage solutions.

CREATE A HOME FOR YOUR TASKS

If you have one list, you have a single home for all your tasks. You don’t need to keep a variety of lists, reminders or Post-it notes but instead you will have created a place to house everything you need to do. You no longer need to keep reminding yourself to remember to get something done. The list will do it for you.

PICK YOUR PRIORITIES

If everything you need to do is in one place, it makes it a lot easier to prioritize and select tasks to focus on. When you have a free moment, review your list and you’ll be instantly reminded of what needs attention and which tasks should to rise to the top. You won’t need to remember to look in several different places just to find out what’s most important.

FEEL GREAT

The real magic of having a to-do list is the pleasure that comes with checking things off the list when they are complete. I have been known to add items to my list that are already done just to be able to check them off. It’s a proven fact, that checking items of a list results in a dopamine rush which makes us feel good and in turn, motivates us to do more.

So, what’s holding you back? Create your list today by downloading priorigami and start reaping the magical benefits of your to-do list.

The Productivity Triangle

The Productivity Triangle

Over the years, many have used a triangle metaphor to make sense of concepts including the , the Project Management Triangle (cost, time, resources), the Exposure Triangle (ISO, shutter speed, aperture) or the Drama Triangle (hero, victim, villain). I created my own Productivity Triangle to demonstrate that in order to become more efficient and productive, we need simply need to manage our time, tasks and things.

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TIME

Most of us use some sort of calendar to manage their time and while we are really good at scheduling meetings and appointments with others, we don’t manage the windows in between those meetings as well. At the end of the day or at the start of your day, take a few minutes to time block your entire day with the tasks you need to get done in between your meetings. By doing this, you have a set game plan for the day that you just need to follow. In addition to making sure you get the most important things done, this method also help you reduce or eliminate distractions.  (NOTE:  Beware of the Bermuda Triangle of Productivity.)

TASKS

For the most part, we know what tasks need to get done but we don’t use a centralized to-do list.  We just wing it and try to get tasks done just in time. As a result, sometimes things fall through the cracks or become a crisis. Try using one central list to keep track of all of your tasks. This makes it easy to remember your tasks, review and prioritize them and then focus on finding time to complete them. Also, don’t try to do everything at once.  Pick your top three tasks and get those done before tackling others. I just launched a new task management app called priorigami: the art of productivity to help with this. Try it out!

THINGS

Last but not least, we need to manage all our stuff. It’s amazing how much time and hassle we can save if we simply find a place for everything. Designate a set place for your keys and put them there as you enter your house. You’ll never have to look for your keys again. If there’s a pile of stuff on your desk, most likely it’s because there isn’t a specific place for some of those things to belong. Create those spaces and you’ll have less clutter and spend less time looking for things.

In future posts, we’ll dig deeper into each of these three dimensions.

Not Just Another To-Do List App

Not Just Another To-Do List App

About six months ago, I decided I wanted to figure out how to help people be more productive so they could spend less time feeling overwhelmed and more time on the things they enjoy. And so, I set out to create the “FitBit” for productivity.

I read as many books and blogs on productivity best practices, tried countless apps and tools, conducted surveys and ethnography studies and found that we don’t just need another to-do list app. Most of us know how to create to-do lists and in fact, most of us have many, many lists. There are a million ways to create lists including a good, old-fashioned pen and a piece of paper. Creating lists is not the problem.

We struggle with what to do once we have a list.  As our lives have become more hectic, demanding and complex, it’s hard to prioritize tasks, avoid distractions and stay focused on completing tasks.  This is what I want to try to help solve.

With fitness, we know we should walk 10,000 steps in a day and limit our caloric intake to less than 2,000 calories a day.  But, this is much easier said than done.  Until FitBit came along and turned these goals into a daily challenge that became fun and rewarding.

To that end, I am proud and excited to introduce you to priorigami: the art of productivity.

priorigami.png

This is not just another to-do list app.  This app is designed to help you manage, prioritize and complete tasks more efficiently so you can spend more time doing the things that really matter to you.

It’s simple:  enter your tasks and we’ll remind you to select your Daily Top Three.  We’ll remind you to Shuffle and prioritize your tasks to make sure you’re focusing on the most important ones.  We will also encourage you to get things done and track your progress along the way.

For now, this is just a bare bones MVP available for iOS devices through the App Store.  But it is a good starting point.  And, it’s completely FREE for you to use.

You no longer need to feel overwhelmed by your list of tasks or deflated by having too much to do. Start feeling good about getting things done. Download it now and immediately enjoy the benefits of priorigami.