There are two ways of completing 10 hours of work in one day:
#1 Start working like an animal right away and stop only once it’s all done.
#2 Take 30 minutes to plan and prioritze your actions in order to finish everything in 7 hours, with breaks included.
In order words; if you plan your activities effectively and prioritze the more productive aspects of your task, you can accomplish it faster and with better results. I call this method: working on the 20%. This is based on the Pareto Principle:
Wikipedia Pareto Principle Definition:
The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule,  the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
In order to achieve your goals and avoid a burn out (as your final bonus), you need an effective schedule. Over the years, I have worked really hard to improve my schedule, to make sure it is effective and productive. Here are my 5 tricks to create an effective schedule:
#1 An effective schedule is realistic: Test out changes
Before getting to the perfect schedule, you will surely use trial and error. Common mistakes are:
– Drastically changing your lifestyle (e.g. wake up at 5am daily when you used to start your day at 7am)
– Trying to do too many things at the same time
– Imposing your schedule on your relatives, etc.
So to be realistic, try incorporating a few elements each week and see how you and your entourage react.
#2 An effective schedule is designed according to your needs: Create a list of priorities
Your schedule will improve time management if it does only one thing: Get the 20% done! Make a list of what is really important for you to complete in a week. Be careful, I am not talking about what you need to do but what you want to. We will find space for the not-so-useful-and-time-consuming stuff later on 😉
#3 An effective schedule is a steady one: Make it fit your lifestyle, don’t fit your lifestyle into your new schedule
Too many people try to adjust to a new schedule that drastically changes their lives. The problem is that changing lifestyles is like not eating chocolate anymore when you love to have a little everyday: you will find any good excuse to get back to your old habits!
Make a schedule that will suit your lifestyle and habits. Don’t try to work late if you can’t concentrate after 7pm… it just won’t work and you will become less productive… and risk having a burn out ;-D
#4 An effective schedule is one with a core solid as a rock wrapped with great flexibility: Allowing wiggle room without cancelling anything
Your schedule will include all your priorities. They should be the tasks that improve your overall situation (personal, financial, social, etc.) and as a result your happiness as well. Those priorities can be moved about in your schedule. Remember, the schedule should adapt to your life, not the opposite. So soccer Monday can become soccer Wednesday… as long as you play in your week!
#5 An effective schedule rewards hard work: Don’t forget to indulge yourself
My wife sometimes laughs at me when I start working on something by taking a 15 minute break to grab a fruit (it used to be chocolate bars L ) or to watch the latest news on my favourite hockey team. I start with a pause because I believe it is important to reward yourself when you do (or are about to do 😉 ) some hard work.
If you want to perform at a high level in any sphere of your life, you will need to work hard and be meticulous. I told you before; there are no free lunches in finance… well there are no free lunches in life; period! However, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life or deserve to be rewarded for your efforts!
So these are my personal tricks to creating an effective schedule. This is how I was able to achieve 4 promotions, an MBA, a CFP title, a successful marriage, 2 beautiful children, while moving 3 times, starting a company all in the past 5 years and recently adding a fitness routine 5 times a week. The great news is that I feel perfectly fine and I am far from a burn out… I did everything because I keep working on the 20% 😀
Do you have any other tricks to become more productive?
image source: juhasonin