To be more productive in your life start organizing your major activities into four areas.
Do the prep work. Invest time in the practice and learning required to meet your specific performance needs. Pick the formula and ratio that works for you. Example: Allot four hours of practice and preparation for every one hour of performance. That might seem extreme, but it could be too little for you. Consider the effort professional athletes put in toward their daily practice. A four to one ratio may be your sweet spot for success. The minimum would be one to one. Yes, that means if you run a weekly one-hour meeting, you are also investing one hour for planning (agenda, presentation, objection handling, etc.) Adopting this discipline forces you to deeply consider the content and context of your meetings and other high-stake performances.
Showtime. The well-known often maligned Pareto Principle, states that 80% of results come from 20% of activity. The activities to focus on are your key money making activities. The biggest, high leverage skills required for you to get the largest return on your investment of time, treasure, or talent. Because, your performance is what others count on, come to see, and is what you are judged on.
Many people skip this altogether. Bad move. The time you make in this phase will vary depending on the importance of the activity. In some instances, it may be as long as the prep work or the length of the performance. Minimally, make it half the length of the performance, until you refine your process. The review phase is simply a “facts only” after action review of what happened, what worked or didn’t, and what to do differently the next time around. Doing this puts closure to the performance, so you don’t drag regrets forward, nor rest on your laurels.
The ability to take necessary downtime and use it wisely is a strategic advantage many people fail to employ. This period is where you pursue other interests, play, relax and otherwise recover. People think of this as vacation time. It is more than that. Rest is required for other parts of your mind to be activated. If your performance was technical in nature, this might be a more artistic time for you. Have you ever felt exhausted yet restless binge watching old movies? It is your mind’s way of telling you that particular low-grade activity isn’t cutting it, and it is searching for fresh inputs for rejuvenation. You would do well to help it along.
Let your current priority decide which phase to schedule first. If you are always stressed and not making enough time for yourself, schedule rejuvenation time right away. If you have completed a time tracking study of your day or week, and you know what the significant activities are, schedule those first, and then backfill the prep time, and allow for a review period.
Prepare. Perform. Review. Rejuvenate. Repeat.
Essentially it is a formula you need to solve based on your priorities. Once you figure out the schedule that best works for you, honor it and begin to enjoy greater results and productivity.
Also published on Medium.