Productivity is a choice. In life there are two different types of tasks, gain tasks and prevent pain tasks. Prevent pain tasks are our everyday responsibilities such as taking out the trash. There are no great gains made from taking out our trash, but if we do not take it out our house will smell and attract rodents. Prevent pain tasks only represent 10% of our achievements yet they take up so much of our time, or so we perceive that they take up our time. These tasks are put on our to-do list because they have to get done.
Gain tasks are much harder to identify and accomplish and yet they represent 90% of our achievements. These tasks go on a calendar. Time is made for these projects because they are important.
Three attributes to help you recognize gain tasks:
1. Lack of urgency. These tasks can be put off over and over again without any looming deadline or threat. For example, learning another language; you can put it off but when you look back on your life will you remember taking out the trash or learning that language? Will there be a sense of accomplishment from taking out the trash or from learning another language?
2. When we do a gain task they produce significant results, life-long results.
3. You cannot delegate gain tasks. You cannot delegate learning another language to someone else. If you want to learn another language, you have to do it yourself.
Now that you can identify the gain tasks, how do you actually achieve gains?
1. Schedule. Put these tasks on your calendar. The perceived deadline will create motivation.
2. Defend the task. Do not let your pain tasks force you to push back or reschedule your gain task. Delegate the pain tasks in order to create time.
3. Neglect maintenance and play catch up later. Put off taking out the trash and paying a bill. Instead focus on your gain task and take care of pain tasks later.
Threats to achievement of gains come in the form of procrastination and interruptions. We tend to procrastinate doing tasks that we do not like or that we know will take energy we perceive we do not have. The energy comes from waiting until a deadline comes close and then stressing about the subsequent consequences from non-completion.
Procrastination prevents gain tasks from being completed due to the nature of gain tasks. They do not have looming deadlines. So where do we get the energy to begin? Put them on the calendar. Make time for the first task and the endorphins, momentum, and feeling of accomplishment from completing the first task will carry you into scheduling the second gain task and so on.
Interruptions are killers to productivity, which you will inevitably face. Types of interruptions:
1. Do Something’s…These are things that come up and need to be done. Put them on a to-do list and get back to work on being productive.
2. Need Information…These are people that need just a quick moment to get some piece of information or data from you. When they interrupt you, politely let them know that you are busy with a project so that they keep the conversation short and sweet. Quickly exchange information and move on.
3. Want Appointments…These are people that want time and you handle them by scheduling an appointment and then jumping right back into work.
As quickly as possible, handle the interruptions and continue down the path of productivity through focus and determination.
You may be wondering where to begin. Simple, take two minutes to brainstorm your goals. Put them down on paper and prioritize them however you like. Then…you guessed it, put it on the calendar.
Hardy, D., & McClatchy, S. (2015, February 6). Productivity: Get It Done. Gain vs. Pain Tasks. Success Magazine.