Setting Priorities

July 15th, 2010

The legendary French skier Jean Claude Killy once said he starts every morning with a cold shower; that way whatever happens the rest of the day can’t be all that bad. My approach to the day’s first activity is the same philosophy, so I begin weekdays with 15 minutes of stretching and 15 minutes of sit-ups and push-ups. Most of the time this requires a mental struggle to finish – as I continually remind myself, “Everything is going to be a lot better in just a few minutes.”

Whenever clients ask how to better organize their workday I recommend a similar strategy: “Focus on your most challenging project for at least 30 minutes when you first sit down at your desk; then whatever fires come up later seem a lot less daunting.” After a few weeks of adjusting your mindset, of course, this becomes habit and your productivity soars.

One of the key adjustments of this technique is to avoid checking e-mail. While this high-tech world is great, a major drawback is iPhones, Blackberrys and desktops can take over you life. So it’s important to take back some control. My recommendation is to utilize the “Dr Pepper Approach” and check e-mail three times a day. (That’s a reference to their commercials when I was a kid that suggested drinking Dr Pepper at 10, 2 and 4 provided a pick-me-up.)

Simple changes can lead you to big results. Getting more organized and putting first things first doesn’t take a complete overall… just a little tweaking. It’s a lot easier than taking cold showers. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

(Disclaimer: I’m not really a doctor, but that last line – taken from Dr Pepper’s current commercials – was too good to pass up.)

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