How To be Consistently Productive.
What is it that incredibly productive people do that most people don’t? It’s a question I ask myself frequently, and what I’ve learned is that the most productive people have processes and structures that they follow every day.
No matter who you look at, the most successful people are the ones who follow a pattern that results in accomplishing great things.
A great example of this is successful authors. Take Ian Fleming, for example. Ian Fleming, creator and author of the James Bond books, would write a book a year. He would leave dark, dreary winter London at the end of December, fly to Jamaica, where he had a holiday home (Goldeneye) and would write every day from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM for six weeks.
At the end of those six weeks, he would have a completed first draft, which he would take back to London and spend the next three to four months editing before submitting it to his publisher around June.
For twelve years, he followed that process.
Author, John Grisham, writes between 7 AM and 10 AM every day from 1st January until July. He calls it his ritual. During those fours hours, his phone is off, and there’s no internet and no distractions.
Both Ian Fleming and John Grisham followed a process that gave them the result they wanted — a completed book.
Being productive is not difficult. It’s all about having a process that, when followed, will give you the result you want. But the critical component in all this is that you need to follow that process consistently.
You can tell if someone exercises every day. They are in shape, carry very little body fat and have an energy about them that radiates from them. This energy and vitality is achieved through consistently following an exercise schedule. These people have a daily routine they follow. You don’t become fit and healthy from exercising once or twice every few months. It’s a daily process — a ‘ritual’ if you like.
Once you know what you want to master, whether that is a particular skill or job, you need to identify what you must do consistently to produce the results you want.
For instance, if you want to be the top salesperson in your organisation, being available for every meeting your company holds will not get you there. Getting out into the field and speaking with your customers and prospects is the only way you will accomplish it. No boss will ever be upset with you if you are unable to attend a company meeting if you are with a prospect or customer.
What do you want to accomplish? Once you know that, you can decide what needs to be done consistently to achieve it.
But, that is not the only part. The next part is how you will fit those actions into your daily life? Ian Fleming wrote every morning in a distraction-free environment for six weeks. John Grisham writes for four hours without connection to the outside world, five days a week.
Think about that for a moment. Both these people achieved what they achieved by putting themselves in a distraction-free environment for four hours each day. That still leaves twenty hours for everything else. Surely, that’s enough time for anyone to do what they want to do. Socialise, do errands, manage email and other communications.
Finally, you need to enjoy the process. Stephen King describes his finished, published books as “dead skin”. He loves the process far more than the published books.
We often talk about the discipline required to achieve success. However, I think it’s not so much about discipline; it’s more about the joy from following the process.
For instance, I love exercising every afternoon between three and four. I don’t particularly enjoy the start, but I love it once I’ve started. But my favourite part of the whole process is the after exercise shower and cup of tea. I feel fantastic, and sitting down with a cup of tea to write my exercise journal is one of my favourite moments of the day.
I also love Monday mornings. I have early morning calls with two of my favourite clients, then begin my writing. I will write in my office for the next two hours — it’s one of my favourite times of the week.
Writing my blog posts brings me immense joy. Some days I am buzzing with excitement to share my thoughts; other times, I struggle to write the words. Either way, though, I love going through the process of writing.
The secret to being successful with your work, goals, or anything else is consistently following a process that, while you may occasionally modify to improve it, you stick with it.
It’s the only way to get the results you want, and it’s not complicated. All it takes is a commitment from yourself and a determination to make it happen, and we all can make commitments and be determined.
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