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1 Surefire Way to Double Your Productivity Every Single Day

This method has worked for me because it gives me the parameters I need to work efficiently.

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BY John Brandon - 11 Jul 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Most of us tend to jump right into work. It's just a routine. We login to our desktop computer, check email, and start writing documents. We drift over to a browser and check on the news. We check a few items off a list, but we don't really feel super productive.

Lately, I've started doing something that has doubled my productivity. It's not rocket science, and it's not even techie. I can't fully explain why it works, but it has helped me stay focused and produce more work because I have a much better handle on my tasks.

As you may know, I wrote about the seven-minute morning routine a few years ago. Almost a million people read the article, and many have tried the process.

I still do my morning routine, but I've added something new that's only slightly related. It's simple enough that it doesn't require a lengthy explanation. And, the simplicity of it is exactly what makes it work for me, even on the most hectic days.

Of course, the problem with most work days is that we lose momentum. We don't really know what we want to accomplish, so we're aimless and unfocused about most of our activities. That kills our output. We might finish a business report or a new project plan, then do some research, but this drifting is what causes so many delays in getting our work finished by the end of the day. It feels like productivity pinball.

Instead, here's what actually works.

Before you start working each day, make a list of absolutely everything you want to accomplish that day. I mean everything. Be as exhaustive as possible. List out every task you can possibly perform. Don't bother getting too specific about the time or the deadline. Just make your dream list and keep it as high as 20 items or so.

It might take some thought. Think about the projects you have, the people you will meet with, the things you want to do that are a bit mundane.

Include things like buying a toner cartridge, writing a project summary for the boss, meeting with a team member about a party, finding someone to cater the office party, taking a break at Starbucks to buy a mocha, installing a new version of an app you use, and answering at least 25 emails in one sitting. The more specific you can get about this list the better. You can jot the tasks down on a notepad or use something like Excel or Evernote. The tool you use doesn't matter. The list is what matters.

Why does it work? When we have a goal we can obtain the goal. You might as well make 20 of them right? If you mark the items down, you can then make an attempt to finish them all--or at least a good portion of them.

You'll be surprised by the results. In the past, you might finish half the items if you have never used a process like this. You'll meander through most of them. Working in a way that is aimless like that means never finishing too much work. Working in a way that is way more intentional, always making a list every day, means you will see results. You can also track of what you accomplish. You can share the list with others (or the boss).

As humans, we like to have parameters. That's why kids actually want us to discipline them. They want to know the borders of their own freedom. At work, try giving yourself the same guidelines and be sure to let me know if this simple trick works.