3 Things is a weekly series that highlights three things you can do to overcome a challenge, enhance your productivity, and improve other aspects of your work and life.
The reason any of us are trying to improve our productivity is to deliver the goods more consistently. By “the goods” I mean quality stuff. Delivering is all well and good, but if you deliver stuff that is less than what you’re capable, then you’re letting others – and yourself – down. I discussed delivering the goods in the latest Productivityist Newsletter (which you can get, well, delivered to your inbox on a bi-weekly basis by subscribing here), and this week’s 3 Things post offers up three things that you can do to help you deliver great work time and time again.
1. Start before you’re ready.
“Start before you’re ready. Good things happen when we start before we’re ready. For one thing, we show huevos. Our blood heats up. Courage begets more courage. The gods, witnessing our boldness, look on in approval.” ― Steven Pressfield, Do The Work
You can’t deliver what you don’t start. You’ll find reasons to delay starting if you’ve got a propensity to not finish as well (as I mention in the third part of The Front Nine newsletter, the finishing is the hardest part of the process). So start. Now.
Keep in mind that starting can initially be something as simple as creating an Evernote notebook that will house all the notes for your deliverable. It could be creating a project in Todoist (or your task manager of choice) that acts as a place to store the tasks you’re going to dump in there. It could be using an app like Lift to state your intention to start doing something and allow the crowd to spur you on.
It could even be to announce a product while you’re in the midst of creating it (like Jeremy Roberts and I have done with Do Better With Asana).
You’ll always search for reasons to delay starting because once you’ve started then it’s real. So make it real now and then build upon that reality until it’s created. If you trust your workflow enough to help you build it, then trust the fact that you’re able to start it…even if you’re not “technically” ready.
2. Say “yes” to less.
“Saying no is actually saying yes to other things.” ― Patrick Rhone, enough
Every time you add a new idea or project to your plate, you crowd the plate. That makes the plate far more daunting to deal with, let alone enjoy.
Before you say “yes” to something, put it through the wringer. Tools like The Idea Criteria can help, as can just checking it against your current commitments (or whether the idea or project is aligned with your three words for the year). The goal is to deliver quality results. I’m not suggesting that quantity doesn’t play a role, but the less you tackle at once means the more attention you can give to those things you do tackle. That means a higher quality of work will be applied to those things, and that will lead to consistently great work.
3. Review regularly
“Study the past if you would define the future.” ― Confucius
David Allen has said that if you aren’t doing a weekly review, then you aren’t doing GTD. Whether you are a Getting Things Done devotee or have developed some form of workflow or system that works better for your needs, if you aren’t looking back at your successes and failures then you won’t be able to move forward in the right direction on a consistent basis.
Block out time on your calendar to review the week. Schedule quarterly and annual reviews so that you can see where you’ve been and plot out where you’d like to go. Chris Guillebeau wrote an excellent piece years ago on how to conduct an effective annual review. Journal nightly, or use something like the 5 Minute Journal to chronicle your thoughts in five minutes whenever you see fit during the day.
Reviewing yourself allows you to better measure yourself and your progress. That’s how you’ll improve consistently…and deliver great work consistently as well.