The Secret to Productivity? Money and Smiles

My To Do List: The Functional Tattoo

Optimal productivity is something we may strive for, but too few of us attain.  Consequently, many feel buried alive under the weight of an unruly, constantly growing To Do list.  The technovores among us may attempt to alleviate the pain by using the latest software that claims to be able to organize your life.  And yet, reality often falls short of these promises.

Part of the problem is that we’ve forgotten that productivity doesn’t necessarily mean getting everything done.  Rather, productivity means getting the right things done right. Because of this memory lapse, we may find ourselves racing to stay ahead of the urgent or we may numb ourselves by dealing with those mindless tasks that seem easy to complete, but don’t have much lasting value.  The net result is diminished productivity and a creeping sense of impending disaster.

Into this sorry mess steps Mike Michalowicz with a recommendation that we adopt a back-to-basics approach to productivity:

  • Take a legal pad and draw two columns — one labeled Task and the other labeled Type.
  • Handwrite in the first column all the tasks you think you have to accomplish.
  • In the second column draw a dollar sign ($) next to every task that is reasonably likely to generate revenue for you in the next 30 days. Then, draw a smiley face next to every task that is reasonably likely to make your clients happy.
  • Systematically work through the items marked with $ or .
  • Ignore the rest — unless you have a ton of extra time on your hands.

That’s it.

Unless you’re an emergency room doctor, ignore the urgent and simply focus on what Michalowicz says is most important — money and smiles.  As far as Michalowicz is concerned, this is the most effective productivity strategy he has ever followed.  Here’s how he sums it up: “If cash is flowing and the customers are happy, who cares if I never get around to the other tasks?”

[Photo Credit: Rob and Stephanie Levy]

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