How to use a sticky notes to be more productive

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There are 1,000s of systems out there about productivity.

The GTD, The Pomodoro, Eat That Frog, Tickler System.. and on and on…

You have no chance to try them all… or even to implement them in your life.

But there is one strategy you can’t afford to overlook.

It’s simple. You don’t have to buy any new tools. You probably already have it sitting on your desk right now.

A Sticky Note

If you’re in business, have to get projects done on a regular basis, make ‘quotas’, or deliver goods at fixed deadlines — then this is something that you can’t afford to ignore. It’s one of the easiest things you can add to your day and it will have the most dramatic impact.

In this post, you will discover;

  • How a simple sticky note can help you double, triple or quadruple your productivity
  • The difference between motion and action; one is costing you time and energy — the other increases it for you

The Story:

Most people spend too much time doing things that don’t make a difference in their lives.

I was like that — I would focus on getting all the things that were on my list done. Checking off everything. Putting them in the right folder. Using the GTD system to plan  my projects and my day.

But I wasn’t getting anywhere. Projects were falling behind. I would be behind on my numbers, and it seemed like there as just nothing that I could do to keep up.

I would have my To-Do list sitting in front of my at my desk — but by the end of the day, I would never get it done.

There were too many things on my list, even after I deleted, deferred, delegated or did most of them.

There were just too many things on the list.

And if you’re anything like me — chances are there are too many things on your ‘To-Do’ List also.
If you don’t get them done today — they will end up on the list tomorrow. So what do you do?

First — your to-do list isn’t going anywhere. No matter how many times you check things off your list — it’s not going anywhere.

Second — there is an easier way of  ‘finishing’ your to-do list — that doesn’t require spending all day doing it.

But before we get into the specifics — let’s talk about a simple concept.

Being In Motion Vs Taking Action

James Clear has written an excellent post about being in motion vs taking action.

But to give you a quick idea — “Motion is when you’re busy doing something — but that task will never produce anything. Action is the type of behavior that will get you a result.”

Here are a few examples;

  • Motion = read another book on productivity. Action = implement one tip I learned from the last book
  • Motion = write down the names of 10 leads I can call today. Action = close 1 lead
  • Motion = talk to 5 people about my upcoming project. Action = create a plan to follow
  • Motion = search for a better way to create my website. Action = hire someone to do it for me

There are similar tasks in your life and in your business.

Chances are if you’re overwhelmed at this point, it’s because you’re focusing on motion — and not action.

But it’s not your fault.

A Cultural Problem

We live in a culture today where everyone is busy. You meet your neighbor and ask him — “How’s it going” — “Busy, Busy,” she replies.

And this is our daily conversation. Everyone we meet, says — busy!!! busy!!!!

Almost like a medal.

Busy! Busy!

So let’s take a quick look at some things that you might be doing in your life that may be classified as motion — and some tasks that could be classed as action.

For me — thinking of articles to write, is motion. Actually sending an article out is action.

Calling 5 leads every day is motion — closing 1 lead is action.

Here’s another way to look at action.

It is what brings in the money, what keeps the lights on, what drives you forward in the direction you want to be going.

And I’m using ‘money’ as a metaphor here because it is simple and easy to understand, and measure.

Incidentally, it works the same if you’re looking to

  • get in better shape (getting a gym membership is motion — doing 10 pushups right now is action)
  • have better relationships with your family (buying another gift is motion — spending quality time is action)
  • improve yourself spiritually (getting another meditation app is motion — sitting in the quite meditating for 5 minutes is action)

Put another way…

Action is the most effective ‘thing’ you can do to get your results.

Take a couple of minutes to think about the ‘results’ that you’re looking for in your business.

Is it to get more clients?

Make more money?

Spend more time with family?

Have better work-life balance?

Whatever it is that you’re looking for… think about it for a minute.

For me — I’m looking to help 1,000 people become more productive. That’s the result that I’m looking for.

Now that you’ve got the result, make it so you can measure it. Make it very specific. Such that anyone can measure it. Not just you — but an outside party can measure it.

So for me — 1,000 is very measurable — but productive is not. So I’ll take it one step further.

I want to help 1,000 business-owners double, triple or quadruple their business.

That’s more measurable. A business owner can tell me quickly if I helped her double her business or not.

 

Okay — almost there.

Now that I know the result — I can think about ways to do this. It makes it very clear for me to know the results that I’m looking for.

But that’s just my example — let’s look at a few more.

If you’re a high-paid consultant — Get 10 new clients. That’s very specific.

For an outside salesperson — Generate $100,000 in revenue. Specific.

For a business owner — Get 3 referrals. Specific.

For a commission agent — Close 1 high net-worth ($1 million) deal. Specific.

We’re being specific because the more specific we are with the result the easier it is to focus on the ‘action’ that matters.

Almost there!

Now that we’ve got our specific result…

Let’s think of 5 steps that we can take to move us towards that result.

here they are for the business owner — get 3 referrals.

  1. Ask 10 existing customer if they know someone who would love what you do
  2. Give out coupons to customers who come in this week
  3. Ask competitors if they have someone they can refer
  4. Ask people providing service to you (your accountant, lawyer, notary)
  5. Do a joint venture with a complimentary service

Some of these five will be good — some will be bad. But there will be at least a few that are doable.

So once you’ve got the five actions you can take to get to the result — delete two.

Yup. You gotta come up with five first — and then delete two.

That’s to help you come up with the best ideas you can. And focus on the 3 that have the highest chance of success.

Now comes the good part

The Sticky Note

This is the best piece of productivity software ever invented.

A Sticky Note.

It is large enough to fit relevant information — but small enough to restrict it.

So on this sticky note, write down the 3 action steps you can take to get to the result.

These are the action steps we just came up with.

Next — take the sticky note and put it next to the screen where you’re reading this.

If you’re reading this on your cellphone — put it on the back. If you’re reading this on your computer — put it on the monitor.

This sticky note is your life line. You look at it every day — and then don’t do anything else until you’ve done these 3 actions.

Sure — you’ll still have to do other things — what we called the motions. For e.g. File reports. Email. Take out the trash.

But if you do nothing else but these 3 things — you will move the needle much more than doing all the thirty-seven things in the motion list.

Here’s what will happen when you do apply this.

You’re going to feel weird. You’ll think, “this is stupid, I should be focused on doing XYZ.”

Or,  “It’s better if I [_______________] first because then I won’t have to think about it.”

BE WARNED!

That’s procrastination speaking. Don’t fall prey to it.

Do the sticky note first — everything else can wait.

When you do get over the weird feeling and have controlled the procrastination and taken the action. You’ll feel lighter.

You’ll know you’ve accomplished something worthwhile in the day. And within a week — you’ll have accomplished more than most people do in a month.

There is one other thing that will happen in this week… your brain will tell you that there are all these other things that you have to do… but you aren’t doing them…

You might start worrying a little bit more… Since there will be so many things that are on your to-do list — but aren’t getting done.

But remember you are getting the most important thing done. You’re moving in the direction of the result that actually matters.

Action Items:

  1. Write down the result that will make the most difference in your business
  2. Be specific about the result — so someone else can measure it for you
  3. Write down 5 action steps you can take to get that result
  4. Narrow it down to 3 action steps
  5. Write it on a sticky note
  6. Place sticky note on your screen
  7. Focus every day for the next week on doing these 3 action item daily

In the next post — I’ll share with you how to overcome anxiety, and worrying about all the things that aren’t getting done with a simple tool that most people have in their house, and every one of us grew up with.

This simple tool will help you to stop worrying even when you wake up in the morning and go about your day with comfort and ease.

More on that later.

Quick Recap

For now, let us do a quick recap. In this post…

We looked at how most people spend their time in doing trivial tasks and doing ‘motion’ as opposed to ‘taking action’ on the results that matter most.

We then figured out the most important result that will help us double, triple or quadruple our productivity in business

We then discovered the 3 most important steps we can take each day to accomplish the result.

Finally, we used the Sticky Note to bring hyper-focus to our day.

Now It’s Your Turn!

P.S. If you can’t think of how to utilize the sticky note in your business or aren’t sure exactly what should be in each action step, leave a comment below and I’ll help you out!

 

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