In the book “What the Most Successful People Do At Work: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Career“, author Laura Vanderkam outlines disciplines that lead to success and productivity and shows how a few simple changes can make you more productive and fulfilled in your career. The short book tries to show how you how to ignite your career by taking control of your work day. She shows how successful people use certain daily practices to make sure their work hours are invested, not squandered. Drawing on research and interviews with people as varied as children’s book illustrator LeUyen Pham, productivity guru David Allen, fitness personality Chalene Johnson, and former race car driver Sarah Fisher, Vanderkam shows how to take control of your career by taking control of your 9-to-5.
Mind your hours: You need to know how you use your time.
People over-estimate the amount the amount of time they really work Successful people know how many hours a week they work. In order to use your time more effectively, you have to know how you’re using it in the first place. Track your time for an entire week and consider how long you spend on email, projects, meetings, planning and other tasks. Then take a close look at how you’re spending your time. According to Vanderkam, the most important lesson in keeping a time log is learning how long it takes you to carry out each task. This gives you insight for creating meaningful changes. For instance, Vanderkam tries not to schedule phone calls before 11 a.m. because the morning is when she’s better able “to turn an idea into words.”
Plan: Don’t underestimate the power of planning.
Successful people build planning into their days. Planning gives you a path. How can you arrive at your destination without directions? “Knowing where you’re going vastly increases the chances that you’ll get there,” she writes.
Know what is work: Many things masquerade as work and can stifle your productivity.
Successful people calculate the opportunity cost of various tasks. Some tasks may look like work. But if they’re not advancing you or your organization toward your goals, they’re not. The key is to figure out what those things are.
Successful people look at their days to evaluate what brings them pleasure and what doesn’t, and they figure out how they can spend more hours pursuing pleasure and fewer hours doing what they don’t care about. This is possibly the biggest ‘secret’ to increased productivity: Try to maximize the joyful parts of your work and minimize the miserable.