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The drumbeat of productivity
One of the things I learnt when managing big engagements back when I worked in corporate consulting was the importance of establishing a “drumbeat” for the project.
A weekly progress meeting with each of my teams. A 5-minute daily “standup” to get focused and motivated for the day. A monthly or quarterly offsite to look at bigger issues and make sure everyone was headed in the same direction.
It's the same now I'm working on my own. I think everyone needs that sense of momentum and rhythm.
Personally, I do all my big plans in quarters. Building a new course. Trying out a new marketing method.
You can get a lot done in a quarter if you focus on it. Give yourself a year and you tend to put it off. Give yourself just a month and it's difficult to get anything big done.
A quarter is just right. For me at least.
Weekly is where the action really happens. Taking the big priorities for the quarter and planning what I'm actually going to get done this week. Then allocating out big tasks per day.
It's also where I reflect on what happened last week. Did I get all the big tasks done? Did I manage to exercise every weekday? Did I manage to learn something and create something every day?
I covered daily planning last week and how I use it to keep my big priorities front of mind to ward off distractions.
It's the weekly planning that makes sure I have those priorities right and everything is headed towards achieving the overall plans.
I suppose that all sounds very logical and structured. In practice it's not quite so organised.
I'm a late riser and a night owl, so “morning planning” tends to happen at some random time after 10am.
And some days I'll wake up with something big on my mind and start on that straight away rather than starting with planning the day. Not surprisingly on those days I tend to get less done overall.
That urge to “jump in” and do something straight away is sometimes overwhelming even though I know I'll be less productive overall.
But the important thing is I manage to keep on track 80% of the time. And not only does that mean I tend to be quite productive, it also makes me feel good too.
There's a real sense of forward momentum towards big achievements rather than just having “done some stuff” each day.
And that sense of progress makes it even more likely that the next day I'll make progress too. Then the next.
Sometimes that psychological side is the most important part of being productive.
PS did you know that Top Cat was called Boss Cat when they showed it on the BBC in the 60s and 70s because we had a brand of cat food over here called Top Cat?
Only the title changed though – he was still TC in the show itself.
Ian Brodie teaches consultants, coaches and other professionals to attract and win the clients they need using Value-Based Marketing - an approach to marketing based around delivering value, demonstrating your capabilities and earning trust through your marketing.