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By Darryl Stewart

The one thing you must do every day to feel productive

As we get older and more focused on personal, family, and career success, many of us become more organized. If you are not seeing success in any of these areas, perhaps you have not improved your habits in the areas of personal organization/productivity.

Whether you are a personal productivity nerd like me, or you have never given it a second thought, I have one simple tactic that will help you—one that I wish I started using years ago.

The thought comes from the book Organize Tomorrow Today by Dr. Jason Selk and Tom Bartow. In the first chapter of the book, they talk about not mistaking “busy” for “productive”. We can be busy in a few ways. One way is to just react to everything coming at us as fast as possible, like an emergency room nurse. Another way is to fill our day with a big to-do list and work hard to bang off as many items as possible. In either case we feel busy, but over time we do not seem to be getting where we want to be—meeting our larger goals.

Whichever way you roll—either keeping busy by addressing all the stuff coming at you, or diving into your very long to-do list—there is one thing you can do to drastically enhance the feeling that you are being productive and getting things done that will make your future better.

What is it?

Make a list the night before of the three most important things you must get done the next day and which one of those three absolutely must get done. The authors call this the “3 Most Important / 1 Must”. For a highly organized guy like me, this simply means instead of just making sure I have a complete to-do list that captures everything, that I draw from that list to identify the “3 Most Important / 1 Must” and the rest for tomorrow. I may or may not get to the rest, but I will focus on the most important things first instead of trying to kill a long list as fast as possible.

For those of us who don’t plan much, just making the “3 Most Important / 1 Must” list for yourself the night before and referring to it the next day, may be a huge step forward for you.

I hope this simple idea helps you as much as it has helped me. Good luck!

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