5 easy questions that will help you be more productive

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

One way to become more productive is to use Rory Vaden’s focus funnel.

This tool allows you to sort tasks quickly and identify the ones you actually should be working on. Much like a priority list, the focus funnel creates space for a leader to work on what is most important. The key to being productive is focusing on the right work.

The focus funnel helps you identify your most important work that will create the most value in your day.

Can I eliminate this task?

Most people don’t realize it, but they can immediately start being more productive by removing tasks that have no business being on their to-do list.

If you can eliminate a task great, you’re done! The only thing better than crossing an item off your to-do list is removing a task from your to-do list. More people should pause and ask themselves, “Is this even worth doing?”

Give yourself permission and have the courage to say, “No.”

If you can’t eliminate move on and ask the second question.

Can a robot do this better?

Automation is a great way to free up your time.

Here are a number of ways I use automation, to give you an idea of what is possible:

  • ConvertKit allows me to write an email sequence once and delivers assets to my community 24–7 without needing additional attention after my initial investment.
  • I’ve used Calendly in the past to automate scheduling events on my calendar.
  • I use Zapier to automate different tasks like when a podcast gets uploaded to Dropbox, an email is sent to my team to put it into production. I set up this trigger and write the email once.

Automation is a beautiful thing, but sometimes a task is better suited for a human touch.

Can a human (other than me) do this better?

Delegation is a poorly utilized tool available to all.

Delegation is not abdication. Proper training, follow-up, and feedback are necessary to effectively delegate tasks.

If you are wondering what tasks you can delegate, consider these questions:

  • Does this task give me energy or zap my energy? Give away tasks that drain you.
  • 1) Is this a task only I can do? 2) Is this a task I think only I can do? 3) Is this a task I know I can delegate right now? Delegate all the 2s and 3s.
  • How much time does this task require? If you can hire someone to do a task and it’s cheaper than what you make per hour of work, then delegate!

And delegation isn’t just for the professional life. You can do it in your personal life as well.

  • Uber and Lyft will drive you anywhere you want to go.
  • Instacart will do your shopping and deliver your groceries.
  • Grub Hub will cook your dinner.
  • Your neighbor’s kid will cut your grass or shovel your snow.
  • People are happy to be hired to clean your house.

If a task has made it this far and cannot be eliminated, automated, or delegated, now it’s crunch time.

What if I procrastinate on purpose?

If the task isn’t urgent or your most important work, then procrastinate.

That’s right, procrastinating on purpose is a very good thing to do.

Kick that task to the end of your list. By doing so, one of two magical things will happen. You will continue to procrastinate on the tasks for days or weeks. If this is true, guess what? You can eliminate the task.

After procrastinating for some time, if the task has not been eliminated then you only have one choice left.

Is it time to get to work?

This is the last step of the focus funnel.

If you worked the steps of this tool, you have effectively reduced the size of your to-do list. Some items on your to-do list never should have made it to the list (eliminate). You can rely on tools to do work on your behalf (automation) or you can count on others (delegation). Some tasks are not urgent so it’s possible to ignore them (procrastinate). This creates the space to do the things only you can do (and now it’s time to concentrate).

And by focusing only on these tasks you are allowing yourself to make your most important contributions and be productive.

That’s how the focus funnel works.

It’s five simple questions you can apply to any task in order to focus on the right work.

This is just one tool of many that you might utilize in order to increase your productivity.

The next step would be to explore some other tools.

Three books I’ll point you toward (and why):

  • Measure What Matters taught me how to organize my goals and reflect on progress.
  • The 12-Week Year taught me to work in quarters, measure my progress, and discuss my progress with my peers.
  • Get Things Done taught me the importance of dumping ideas somewhere (I use ToDoist) so they don’t take up mental space and compete for my attention.

Host of the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast with over one million downloads 🚀

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