There’s a 10,000-hour rule to become The Master of a new skill. You don’t have to be brilliant. Or Number One. Or perfect. Just persistent. Malcom Gladwell discusses this mastery that comes with repetition and practice in his book Outliers: The Study of Success.
Such mastery applies to basic routines that will make your work life or business run more smoothly and successfully.
No matter who you work for—if you are the boss or you work for someone else—take ownership of your job, your role, or your company. Own it as if you own the company, and your future depends on it. And put these productivity practices to work. They’ll pay off in a big way!
1. Get up early; Establish a daily morning routine
Scientific studies show that early risers tend to be more optimistic and proactive. They use this quiet time to plan the day or week. It also helps them anticipate problems and set long-range goals for their career or company’s future.
Some early risers do their thinking while exercising. Some like to get into the office before anyone else arrives, close the door, clear off the desk, review their goals, and start the day afresh.
Another common practice of successful early risers is capturing their thoughts in a journal or diary over a morning cup of coffee. Especially in creative times of career transition or business growth, I highly recommend a morning writing exercise called Morning Pages, in which you capture thoughts each morning on 3 pages only and clear the way for new creativity. It may start as a data dump but quickly turns into visioning and goal setting if you stick with it.
Whatever routine you decide to try, make it simple and consistent until it becomes a more natural habit.
2. Make lists; Check things off daily.
I firmly believe in getting all those little things off your brain. I’m referring to things like grocery items, doctor appointments to make, and that call to your mother. Neuroscience shows that handling multiple thoughts all at once—which happens frequently in our speedy world—actually makes us more forgetful unless we deal with it right away or write it down. Writing things down frees up brain space, and you have a reminder to refer to later.
Then, you can focus on what’s really important in your career or business. This leads me to my third productivity practice.
3. Capture your creative ideas.
A second reason to write things down is in another category. It’s more creative and sometimes fun. It’s for capturing the “Big Ideas” and connections that pop into your head while you’re doing the dishes, driving, or listening to music.
The story goes that Einstein got some pretty cool insights while walking on the beach. And just for fun, listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted talk called Your Elusive Creative Genius in which she shares how musician Tom Waits handled the dilemma of driving and having song lyrics pop into his head!
I myself keep paper and pen always handy and recommend you do the same!
These “Big Ideas” or future goals should go into a goal-setting file you review once a month, if not more often. Some will get tossed. Some will go back into the future file, and others will be integrated into current plans and goal-setting.
And the good news is, if you implement all three Productivity Practices— like other highly productive, successful people—you will be a 10,000-hour productivity master focusing all of your time on what’s most important to you.
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