Use This Half-Day Productivity Hack to Knock Out Your Priority Projects

What if you could replicate that experience of the day before a vacation, when you plow through tasks?

learn more about Jeff Shore

By Jeff Shore

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Can we all just agree right now that the most productive day of our work year is that last day before we leave for vacation?

You know the feeling: you have one day to clear your task list of everything that will otherwise need attention when you return a week or two from now.

In full blown day-before-vacation mode, you respond to old emails with one-word replies. You throw out spreadsheets like they have cooties. When people walk into your office you throw up your hands and quickly blurt out, "Vacation starts tomorrow, can't talk now!"

Related: How to Finesse the 4 Biggest Workplace Distractions

My wife and I recently took off to Hawaii for 11 days of beach time. I wanted no mental distractions and so I made sure I had everything buttoned up on the Friday before I left town. It was an amazingly productive day.

I then thought, what if I could replicate that experience? Maybe not as if I was going on vacation, but for a shorter period of time?

The half-day productivity hack

I typically plan out my next day's schedule the afternoon before. Doing so is my last task of each day. This way I clear my mind by committing all priorities to a schedule. As part of that process, I ask the question, "What is the most important priority to accomplish tomorrow?"

The trick is to take that thinking one step further and assume that you will be working a half day. What if you did not have the afternoon available and you absolutely had to accomplish all of your most important tasks in the morning? Would that change the way you scheduled your day?

Related: Use These Social-Media Keyboard Shortcuts to Improve Your Productivity (Infographic)

The spinning-wheels syndrome

Without intentionally scheduling deadlines for my most important priorities, I can easily find myself working in a highly inefficient manner.

You see, my instincts tell me that I need to clear the decks of all the stuff -- emails, memos, reports, etc. -- so that I will be free of distractions before I start working on my true priorities.

Yeah, right. Give me a break. Are we to believe that the stream of emails, memos and reports ever subsides? Getting "caught up" is a fool's errand, my friends. What's worse is that you will burn your mental energy on non-priority tasks.

Your assignment for today and tomorrow

Try this today: late this afternoon, identify your single greatest priority for tomorrow. Then pretend that you are taking tomorrow afternoon off, or that you have a four-hour meeting that will prevent you from handling that priority late in the day.

When you start work in the morning, limit yourself to just 10 minutes for responding to urgent emails before you get to work on your priority task. Now spend the rest of your morning working on the important project you identified. Trust me, the rest of your emails, memos and reports will still be waiting for you after lunch. But you will find that you're under less mental stress since you have already knocked out your top priority in the first half of the day.

You will always have "stuff" around, waiting for you. Get the important things done first, and you'll change your world along the way.

Related: 5 Tips for Getting the Most Important Things Done Every Day

Jeff Shore

Entrepreneur, Sales Expert and Author; Founder of Shore Consulting

Jeff Shore, of Shore Consulting, is a sought-after sales expert, speaker, author and consultant whose latest book, Be Bold and Win the Sale: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Boost Your Performance, was published by McGraw-Hill Professional in January 2014.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game

How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.

Business News

American Airlines Sued After Teen Dies of Heart Attack Onboard Flight to Miami

Kevin Greenridge was traveling from Honduras to Miami on June 4, 2022, on AA Flight 614 when he went into cardiac arrest and became unconscious mid-flight.

Business News

Jake Paul and Lindsay Lohan Fined $400,000 for 'Illegally Touting' Crypto

The SEC just disclosed that eight celebrities agreed to a massive settlement without admitting guilt.


After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.

Author Karen Inglis breaks down the strategies and tactics you need to generate awareness and sales for your self-published book.

Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.