If you’re like me, you have a long list of projects, commitment, activities, appointments, and potential opportunities. Equally probable you have a long list (at least an imagined one) of books to read, movies to watch, trips to take, restaurants to visit, events to attend, and people to connect with. No doubt routine things—time with kids, spouse, friends, family, meal prep, shopping, errands, commute, dressing, etc.—also compete for your limited time.

I’m not getting them all done. Are you? What do we do? Increase productivity?

• Yes, we could develop new skills to enhance our productivity
• Yes, we could delegate more things … maybe.
• Yes, we could find and learn new tools to automate repetitive tasks.

Could we just throw up our hands, quit responding to email, text messages, invitations, cancel appointments, renege on commitments to free up time?

• Theoretically but not likely.

Reject giving up—All in with productivity!

Questions to Frame an Approach to Productivity

1. Do I even have a real list?
          Productivity Skills: Capture; Calendar
2. What’s on my list?
          Productivity Skills: Commitments; Goals; Organization
3. Which things am I going to do from that list each day/week?
          Productivity Skills: Planning; Setting Priorities
4. How do I feel while doing these things each day?
          Productivity Skills: Managing Attention; Managing Energy; Managing Stress.

I provide these questions more as a framework than a suggestion. Take a look as some of my earlier posts for more on how to approach the steps of enhancing your productivity.

Productivity Alone—Inadequate!

Increasing productivity will absolutely help you accomplish more of your ambitious list. But it’s not enough. I’m not dismissing the power of productive habits and proven strategies for getting more done. I believe strongly in developing both and aggressively advocate and teach these habits and strategies. Of course, delegation is essential as your responsibilities grow and your leadership reach expands. Automating repetitive tasks may require learning new things, but well worth the effort.

But what awaits you on the other side of impeccable productivity? What happens when you miraculously have delegated significant volumes of work and automated every repetitive task? How do you find a way to do MORE, especially achieve the goal that is so important to you?

Confronting the Really HARD Question

5. How much can I get done every day and/or week?
          Difficult to answer because it requires facing uncomfortable realities.

Maybe much MORE than I currently do. Perhaps you haven’t yet developed the habits and strategies to combat procrastination and distractions. Maybe you don’t have a plan for each day and end up reacting to what comes your way, leaving little time to prioritize your agenda. Maybe you could delegate more or even embrace automation more.

GOOD NEWS: If these are your challenges many strategies await you. Review questions 1-4. Start small—pick one and practice it until you’re ready for the next one.

Maybe much LESS than I hoped was possible. I’ve seen so many adult students in this situation. They work full time, have children with or without a spouse, and take a full semester course load. Rarely does this have a happy ending. Their admirable goal of finishing school quickly leads them to jeopardize their health, relationships, and, ironically, the opportunity to really learn while taking these courses that are making the rest of their lives miserable. Recognizing that some dreams and significant goals will take longer than you want can be painful. Resisting that reality can quickly lead to burnout and quitting.

GOOD NEWS: Prioritize your health and well-being. This will maximize your long-term success. Work with someone to clarify what matters most to you now. Approach that work with joy, consistency, and openness to new possibilities. Tackle the long-term dream that doesn’t yet fully fit into your schedule with small steps. Set a desired achievement date further into the future. Time will pass more quickly than you imagine. The small steps you consistently take now will prepare the way when you’re better able to prioritize it.

Justin Luebke