This week I attended the book launch for Charles Duhigg’s new book, Smarter Faster Better.
You might know Charles as a Pulitzer prize winning journalist at the New York Times and as the author of The Power of Habit which spent a whopping 60+ weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.
I admire the depth of Charles’ research, and his new book is full of many stories and ideas on being more productive and getting things done.
One topic he discussed in his presentation fits a broader theme that I have written about before—morning rituals. That is, how do you get yourself going in the morning?
If you have read my favorite book on time management, Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy, you will have come across a crucial obstacle that holds many of us back.
When we are faced with over-whelming days—which nearly everyone I know is nearly every day!—our brain can avoid or resist the things that we want to get done.
The solution, as Tracy puts it, is to ask yourself, if you had to eat a frog every day, when would you do it? Would you wait until 5:00pm, ruing it your entire day and losing valuable productivity, or instead, wouldn’t you just wake up and eat that frog?
How we start sets the tone for our day and in his presentation Charles discussed three powerful steps for getting cranking in the morning:
1. Visualize your day: Our lives are determined by the stories we tell ourselves, and Charles suggests starting your day visualizing what you want to get done.
2. At the top of your to-do list, write your stretch goal for the day. That is, in your best scenario, how much will you get done?
3. Use SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. Get clear on what you want to get done and specific to how you will do it.
As an example, here’s the process Charles described for himself:
On the subway heading to work he begins visualizing his day, seeing exactly how he wants it to play out.
Then, when he hits his desk, he completes steps 2 & 3 in all of about 45 seconds. The trick is to spend as little time as you need to get organized and focused.
Then, tear into your day!