I just had a fantastically productive day. I feel great – motivated, energised and on top of things. Writing this newsletter is my last big priority for the day, and when I tick it off I might just go home and cook a nice steak to go with a nice glass of wine, even though it is Monday night. Go on, I deserve it!
Now, I had protected the day so I was in the office and had no meetings. A couple of phone calls were scheduled in, but nothing out of the office. It was not luck that I had a long stretch of focus time in front of me when I arrived in this morning.
But, what was the key to making this day so productive? I made it intentional. I may not have had many meetings, but I had a very long task list. I had a heap of things that I had scheduled into today, knowing that I was in the office and had capacity. I also had more than a few tasks roll over from last week and turn up red and insistent in my list this morning.
I could have started the day with an aspirational plan, and just ploughed through the list to get as much done as possible. But I believe there is a risk here. An aspirational plan is a list of things that I could do, but probably won’t. I prefer to start a day like today with an intentional plan – a list of things that I should do, and probably will.
Setting an intentional plan means prioritising and making some decisions. What are the things that deserve my time, attention and energy today? And what are the things that don’t? Or the things that just don’t make the cut for today compared to the others? This morning I spent the first 15 minutes of the day prioritising and rescheduling tasks in my task list. I ended up with a list of about a dozen tasks, seven of which I deemed to be critical priorities.
By setting my intent, I ensured that I spent my time and energy on the most important things first. I created a realistic and achievable plan, and have achieved most 0f it. This motivates me, and in a workplace driven by never ending inboxes, we need all the motivation we can get.
By setting my intent, I was better able to manage incoming requests for my time. I did not switch my focus lightly. My plan was robust in the face of urgency. Best of all, I had real focus when it came to getting through some significant priorities. I even had time for lunch and a couple of stretch breaks.
So, when you come into work tomorrow, will you aspire or intend to a have a productive day? What could you do to turn your day into an intentionally productive day?
The decisions you make at the start of the day will make the difference.