Stop prioritising your to-do list according to urgency – yes really

How many times do you see this advice:

  • Do the most important thing first
  • Do the most important thing next
  • Prioritise your to-do list and do them in the order of priority
  • Do the hardest thing first

And the list goes on but you get the idea…

Before we knew about cognitive (mental) energy this pretty much made sense. But now we know better, we need to do better. We now know that just doing the next most urgent thing on your list is a sure-fire way to burn through mental energy way quicker than you should be doing. If you consistently do this, at best you and those around you will be less productive than you could be, which costs your business an unnecessary fortune. At worst you and those around you will be on a path to burnout, also very expensive for business and awful for physical and mental health.

Here’s a real situation…

I was recently coaching a very successful business woman who had a team of 10. She was already doing really great things, but like all high performers, always on a quest to be better, so she joined the NEP client community with a 1:1 program with yours truly.

We worked together to help her to fully understand her own cognitive energy. This included getting really clear about the tasks that were even worthy of her energy in the first place. Then we identified her most productive hours in the day and matched tasks to her work, classified according to energy usage. We all discovered she was very fast paced and so needed to work in shorter bursts.

The result…

When we put all of these together she was getting through about 3 hours more effective time each day. Not only that, it felt easier, so she was having more energy to do more exercise (obviously at a carefully devised time of the day for her energy maximisation). All this and feeling like it was taking way less effort.

You probably don’t need more staff…

Most people come to us thinking they need more staff. They don’t. They need their staff (and mostly themselves first) to come to work knowing how to maximise their cognitive energy to get more done in less time with less energy.

Do the maths

Even if you had an extra two hours of effective time per day per person…

What would that mean in extra chargeable time for the lawyers and accountants?

How many more clients could you take on?

How much money would you save by not hiring additional staff?

How much money could you save in sick leave and mental health leave by people not getting burned out due to weakened immune systems caused by unnecessary stress?

We worked with another business with just 5 people where they first thought they needed another person. Optimising cognitive energy allowed everyone to free up an extra 2 effective hours per day. That’s an extra 10 hours per day – more than putting on an extra person……

So before you think about paying an extra $60k, $100k, $250k etc salary, you might want to make sure everyone knows how to maximise their cognitive energy.

It makes good human sense and it makes good business sense.

If you would like to know more, please contact us about how best to optimise the cognitive energy of you and those around you.

Of course we now have our new online course The Neuroscience of Getting Things Done . It’s a super cost effective way to learn some of these tools and could even become a part of your regular induction program to set your new staff up for success..