Based on an article by Jessica Krampe at success.com
As with Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where to get from one level (survival) to an advanced level (self-actualization), enhancing productivity requires much the same process according to Tamara Myles, author of The Secret to Peak Productivity (AMACOM, February 2014)…
Myles says people are constantly bombarded with information, and multitasking causes stress and is usually counterproductive. She wants people to step back and to simplify—to feel in control.
“Productivity is not about being able to do more, to get through your entire to-do list, but instead to be focused and able to get through the most important items, the things that are going to move your company or career forward,” she says.
Inspired by Maslow’s work, Myles created the Peak Productivity Pyramid—an approach to a more productive life. This is like a roadmap, to identify where you are and where you are headed.
Like Maslow’s, this pyramid has five levels, and each tier supports the next. Here are Myles’ key pieces of advice for each productivity level, starting at the base:
1. Physical organization
Myles suggests employing the “Three To’s” of sorting: To Toss, To Do, To Keep.
“Too often people get bogged down trying to sort and file at the same time. By eliminating everything that can be tossed, identifying everything to do and everything else to be kept (filed), eliminating clutter becomes a manageable task,” she says.
2. Electronic organization
Here, she introduces the ABCs of email processing: Access, Batch, Check, Delete, Execute, File.
“Keeping your inbox clear at regular but specific intervals should give you hours of additional time each week, decrease your stress from worrying about forgetting something, and increase your overall effectiveness at handling what is most important in a timely manner,” Myles writes.
3. Time management
Myles approaches time management from the perspective of choice management—and with the following three P’s: Plan, Prioritize, Perform.
In her book, she writes, “We can’t manage time. Time happens. We can manage our choices in relation to the time that we have, what we choose to do with our time.”
4. Activity-goal alignment
Here, you must make sure you’re working on the tasks that best support your goals.
“Living a life with purpose means living each day thinking about the desired outcome. To do that, you need to take a step back from the chaos of everyday life and see the bigger picture.
Once you have your goals—and the rest of the pyramid—in order, the realm of possibility becomes available to you.
According to Myles, “Possibility means striving to be all a person can be while looking at all aspects of one’s life, exploring the possibility of achieving goals that might seem impossible.”
Thankfully, productivity doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing process.
“Focus on one area at a time and make small improvements, build new habits. The more you start making positive changes, the more excited you will become to continue improving. It’s an upward spiral.”