If you want better answers, ask better questions.
The key to being our most productive, and getting the most from our day, is to improve the quality of the questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis. Here are my three top questions that will help anyone put forth their best effort every day:

What Are My Top Three Targets For Today?

This, to me, is the best place to start, but I have found that setting three big goals for every day is the best way to keep myself focused and engaged. When I set out to accomplish three big, hard tasks, it builds my confidence, pushes me closer to my bigger goals and centers my day on things that a truly important. When I hit my three targets for a day, I have something to keep score with and I know that I have been productive. That’s why its best to set these targets first thing in the morning, before the day has gelled and before any other plans have been set. This is essentially getting the big rocks planned first so that the pebbles can settle in around them.

What’s The Most Effective Thing That I Can Do Right Now With The Tools I Have Available?

For years, the overriding question of being productive was to ask “what’s the most effective thing that I can be doing right now?” This is a solid question, but a better one involves the tools that I have at my disposal. Try as hard as I might, I cannot call clients if I don’t have a phone. I can’t type a blog post if I don’t have my laptop. I can’t shoot a video without my phone. These are all important and effective things that I do, but they require the correct tools. This is why I break my task lists down based on the tool that I have. If I’m at my computer, I have a list of thing that I can only do while I’m sitting there. This allows me to take advantage of a two-minute block of time between appointments so that I don’t waste found time.

Will This Take Linger Than Two Minutes?

Two minutes is my magic number for any task that comes across my desk. If a task is going to take less than two minutes, I just do it. I don’t schedule it or overthink it, I just knock it out. Simple, easy and done. If the task is going to take longer than that, I schedule it. I find an empty block on my schedule and place it there so that I can give it the kind of attention that it truly deserves. I have wasted so many afternoons trying to finish something that I started in the middle of the day and felt completely drained afterward because I didn’t get any of my major targets accomplished that day. Had I asked this question, I could have scheduled it accordingly and felt safe in the knowledge that what gets scheduled gets done. If we want better answers we must ask better questions. By asking myself what my top three targets are, what I can accomplish with the tools I have available to me and whether or not a project will take longer than two minutes, I have the answers to win my day, every day.]]>