Do the most annoying thing first!

This is the simplest rule of them all. It is the most important one and the one that will aid you the most in getting things done. If you do follow this rule, you will become highly efficient every single day, staying on top of it all. In my opinion this is the best self-motivation possible.

But – because it is the most annoying task - most managers avoid ever doing it!

Change that habit! Make it your rule to do the most annoying thing first thing in the morning when you start your workday.

Start the task before getting your first coffee, talking to your team or doing anything else. Think for a few minutes what the most annoying task is that needs to get done that day, week or month and do it right away. It doesn’t matter if it takes 5 minutes or half of your day — just make sure that this one thing is what you do first and finish first before you do anything else.

Even if this is the only thing you take away from this book, you will see that your productivity will increase immediately. You feel more motivated and productive and will start every day with the right attitude.

I usually identify that thing by putting together my list for the day (see also “Always work from a list”).

Looking at all the items that need to be done today helps you to focus and more easily identify the most annoying task.

Don’t procrastinate!

Don’t try to do some other easy things first!

You have to focus on this one thing otherwise you will get sidetracked and before you can get anything done you are caught up with all the other easier tasks that needed to be done.

Beware people will interfere with what you are doing, disasters will need to be averted, someone will need your help. In general many other distractions will come your way, try to not let that happen.

Make sure you set as top priority that one annoying task! This will get you motivated for the day. If you don’t knock it off your list, I guarantee other annoying tasks will pile up in your to-do list which will eventually demotivate you every time you look at that list. This will reduce your efficiency dramatically.

Do the most annoying thing first - every day!

Seriously - Clean Up!

“A cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind.”

You might disagree with this and believe that a cluttered desk or work environment is a sign of genius, creativity and self-expression. It’s not.  

It is a sign of inefficiency, laziness and bad manners.  

If your office looks like a garbage dump, it doesn’t matter if you can prove that you could find anything that you are being asked for in less than 5 minutes - it still looks like a garbage dump!

First of all it is not “your” office - it’s your company’s office and therefore represents your company. Don’t make your office an extension of your living room. It is a place to work, not a place where you express yourself and try to show off your personality. If you need to do that write a book or start painting.

Second, no matter how much you personally believe in chaos theory - it is not efficient. This goes back to the basic rule of “touch every item only once” that I have already discussed in the “zero inbox” section.

If your desk is cluttered with paper (and even worse with all kinds of other stuff) you will, even if you intend otherwise, touch many items more than once. You won’t finish necessary tasks and you will waste time. You read a document - maybe just half of it - and put it back on the pile. You will inevitably read the beginning of the same document over and over again until you remove it from your desk.

Don’t just keep it there - read it (if you must), act on it, get rid of it!

At the end of the day you should have an empty desk or at least a neat desk knowing exactly what to start with the next day.

Do not start a “mystery pile”, “to do later”, “read when I have time” etc. - you will never do it, mess up your desk, distract yourself with all the stuff you still have to do and sooner or later get demotivated because there is no way you ever get done.

Besides your cluttered desk also take care of the rest of your office - there is no reason why your office should not look perfectly organized and clean every day.  Don’t store stuff in your office, don’t get more and more shelves for all your “important” stuff.

I believe in the zero cabinet office - I have one small container for personal files (that can be locked) - and that is all.

No additional papers, no folders, no stuff.

(this is an excerpt of my book “Rise to the top!” – you can get it now at Amazon)