How to be more productive every day


“We often assume that productivity means getting more things done each day. Wrong. Productivity is getting important things done consistently. And no matter what you are working on, there are only a few things that are truly important.” So says James Clear in his blog post, The Only Productivity Tip You’ll Ever Need.

His advice: “Do the most important thing first every day”.

It works because our energy is higher, our willpower is stronger, and because human nature compels us to finish what we start (so start something important). When you do the most important thing first, other things that come up during the day won’t keep you from doing what’s most important because, well, you’ve already done them.

If you are a night owl, if you aren’t at full throttle until some time after the morning, start there. Whenever you start working, work on the most important task first.

Clear acknowledges that most people don’t do this. We are conditioned from an early age to respond to the stimuli around us, and we do. We answer emails, return phone calls, and take care of whatever might be in front of us, even if it’s a low priority. We also have work assigned to us by others, or by our duties as parents, and we are conditioned to take care of these things first, even if they aren’t the most important tasks in our day.

Clear doesn’t suggest shirking our responsibilities, but to make room in our life for the things that best serve our agenda, not necessarily someone else’s.

I’m guilty of this myself. I write a daily blog post. I don’t do it first thing in the morning, but I do it before working on other projects which are more important. I write the blog post “first” to get it done, so I can spend the rest of the day working on other things. I get the post done every day but I don’t always get as much work done on my most important projects. In fact, some days, I don’t get anything done on them at all.

I like the idea of starting the day with my most important task which right now means finishing a new book. My fear is that I will get engrossed in working on the book and leave no time to write a blog post, or other things I need to get done during the day.

I think the answer might lie in time blocking. That is, starting the day committed to a block of time for the most important task(s). Give it an hour, or two, and then work on other things. If there’s time left over, I can go back to the most important tasks.

I’ll try it and let you know how it goes.

I use Evernote to be more productive. See how in my ebook, Evernote for Lawyers.


The myth of “finding time”


Several readers caught my mistake in yesterday’s post. Instead of writing “meditate” I wrote “mediate”. Freudian slip? Subconscious lawyer mind echo? Nah, just a typo.

Coincidentally, I was reading an article today about meditation. It begins with the statement, “People say the hardest part about meditating is finding time to meditate.” The author points out that because meditation is seen as “doing nothing,” it’s hard for people to justify the time.

His point is that by understanding the benefits of meditation, which include making us more productive, we can then see the value of taking the time to do it.

This is true. It’s true of any activity. If there’s no perceived value in doing something, why bother?

So, when people say they don’t have the time to do something, or that they need to find the time to do it, aren’t they really saying they don’t see enough value relative to the time required for doing it?

Yes. (I like answering my own questions.)

In truth, we usually find time for the things that we value. We only say things like, “I don’t have the time,” when we are being asked to do something we don’t value, or don’t value enough.

True, we have obligations imposed upon us by work or family or school, but even then, you don’t have to “find the time” to do them. You do them because you see the value, i.e., the pleasure of doing something for someone you love, avoiding embarrassment, keeping your job, and so on.

So, if you find yourself saying or thinking you don’t have time to do something, before you try “to find the time” or feel guilty for not trying, ask yourself if what you are contemplating doing is really worth doing. Often, the answer will be no and you can let it go.

You don’t have to “find the time” to do things that are important to you. You just have to be honest enough with yourself so you know what is important.

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