Although the basic principle of productivity is simple – do more of what’s important – there are a great many nuances and subtleties to the fine art of boosting your productivity and success.
But at bottom, a lot of it boils down to simple behavior: what do you actually do when you’re trying to get things done, and how do you respond to the opportunities and difficulties you encounter.
To help you supercharge your effectiveness in your work and your life, here are some fairly simple behaviors you can try:
As I’ve tried to explain in my thoughts on your Basic Choice, you can create a major improvement in your level of productivity and success simply by making better decisions about what you’ll do next.
It turns out that a great many of your everyday decisions are critical components in boosting your results.
But despite what a surprising number of people believe, the key to increasing the effectiveness of your decision-making lies less in their quality, and more in simply making serviceable decisions more rapidly.
There are several reasons for this:
First, taking extra time to make what you think is the best possible decision allows opportunities to go unseized and perhaps evaporate. It also allows difficulties to go unchecked and get worse. What’s more, there’s the danger of analysis paralysis.
Second, there’s no real way to be sure the decision you reach after taking extra time will work out any better than a decision you arrive at more quickly.
Third, making a decision quickly tends to improve the whole dynamic: influencing the situation by means of whatever action you’re taking, and allowing you to feel better about the situation because you’re responding to it with positive action.
Note that once you get things moving with a quick decision, you need not stay locked into that decision any longer than it seems to be working. You can begin to make course corrections almost immediately, and continuously adjust your tactics and strategies in response to how the situation develops.
Rather than thinking in terms of making the one best decision, it’s better to think of making many small decisions that cumulatively bring you to the best possible outcome.
Consistency is central not only to producing good results, but to encouraging others to add their efforts and energies to your tasks, projects, and goals. Consistency involves being the same person, day after day, working toward the same long-term goals, and following the same principles, values, and methods as you face every new situation.
Before people are willing to support you in your endeavors, they want to know they can count on you to be stable, reliable, and fair. They want you to say what you mean and mean what you say. They want you to be clear on what you’re trying to achieve, to work hard toward what you say is important, and to keep at it until you achieve what you want.
Even without the help of others, consistency is a key ingredient in productivity and success. It’s the piecing together of many small efforts, working steadily to complete a task, project, or goal.
A lack of consistency, on the other hand, leads to fragmentation, loose ends, and wasted efforts.
But consistency is not rigidity. In fact, you can – and should – strive to be consistently flexible.
Rigidity comes from an unwillingness to try anything different, even if what you’re doing is not working very well.
Flexibility, on the other hand, comes from awareness of the situation around you, coupled with an emphasis on achieving your long-term objective or purpose. This promotes a willingness to select whatever tools and methods – within the limits of your principles and values – are most likely to help you accomplish what you want.
Flexibility is important because the world around us and the situations we face are changing, often very rapidly. Some of our favorite tools and methods no longer work. New tools and methods constantly emerge and develop. Many of these allow us to be far more effective than before.
Decisiveness, consistency, and flexibility are underappreciated behavioral patterns that you should incorporate into your action portfolio. They will nearly always help you overcome difficulties and make the most of your opportunities.
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