"Monday 5 Things" with D. Paul Graham

Monday 5 Things…..The “P” Word…..

A recent telephone call with a friend who felt that his business was stagnating lead to a discussion on efficiency and throughput.  As we talked through what was happening with his business, he came to realize that the problem didn’t totally rest with his business; rather some of his biggest problems were a result of where and how he was spending his time.  His personal productivity, or lack thereof, was negatively impacting his business. Today’s M5T looks at being productive.

1.  Crystal Vision.

Clearly understanding what you want to accomplish eliminates clutter in your decisions and most important activities.  Give yourself the freedom to either delegate or drop tasks, activities and interruptions that take you away from what really matters in bringing your vision to reality.

2.  Stop Multi-tasking.

Some people are proud of their multi-tasking abilities. I used to be one of them.  About a year ago I decided to test how much I got done while multi-tasking versus focusing on one activity at a time.  I was surprised to find that I was materially more productive, less distracted and less stressed when I completed one thing at a time. I was actually able to accomplish far more in a shorter period of time by not multi-tasking.

3.  To Do Lists.

Much like multi-tasking, I have changed the way I approach to do lists and deadlines. Rather than take time each morning to make a to-do list, I compile a list the night before of the most important tasks that need to be accomplished the next day.  I’ve also become more focused on what goes on the list.  If there is anything unfinished from the current day I don’t automatically carry it over to the next day.  I assess if the point is really necessary to carry over, or if it can be discarded, delegated or outsourced.

4.  Pause, Think and Refocus.  Repeat.

I sometimes find myself being busy for the sake of being busy.  It took some discipline to learn to stop what I was doing, not look at email or answer the phone, and to take some time out.  At times like that I need to be honest with myself to understand if I am actually procrastinating by cluttering my time with busyness.  I’ve come to realize that taking time out can often be the most effective use of my time when I feel overwhelmed by too many “things” that need to get done.

5.  Untangle Complexities.

Points one through four in today’s M5T set the stage by which we can simplify and segment complexities and interruptions that are a part of daily life, whether at home or at the office.  By breaking down difficulties and problems into bite-size pieces, I find I can better gauge the severity of the situation, ensure that time spent looking for a solution is aligned with my vision, assess alternatives, seek wise counsel when needed and then evaluate and execute a solution.

Here’s to a productive week in all you do.

D. Paul Graham is passionate about people, culture, photography and business.  He has embraced his wanderlust with his travels around the globe, and is at peace with his need for spirited drives in all things automotive.  

You can find M5T each Monday here on www.southmag.com  and by friending D. Paul Graham on Facebook.  Paul is also a contributing photographer to South Magazine.  His photographic work can be found on Instagram @dpgraham and at www.imageGRAHAM.com . Your feedback is always welcome.  Email Paul at dpg@imagegraham.com