The Dinner Plate Approach to Productivity… One Main Focus with a Few Sides

It is an incredibly delightful and unseasonably warm March day in New England (yes, it is really is a perfect 82 degrees!).  As I attempt to work through my ‘to do’ list, I find my mind wandering to the outdoors. Knowing that I need to accomplish many things today, I began searching for a strategy that would keep me focused. Unwilling to sit in a closet so that I couldn’t see the outdoors, I decided to try a new strategy that I like to call my ‘dinner plate’ approach to getting things done.

What is the “dinner plate” approach?  Think of your typical dinner plate… the main focus on your plate is the entree, which is surrounded with complimentary side dishes that round out the meal.  So, what does this have to do with marketing and productivity?  Lots…

Select one main project to focus on.  You can pick that project in a variety of ways, but be sure it meets some important criteria.

  • Choose something that furthers your marketing plan for the quarter.
  • Choose something that allows you to see your progress.
  • Choose an activity that gives you satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.

Once you have selected your main project, just start anywhere.  Sometimes when I suffer from procrastination or writers block, I just start doing something related to that project.  It usually is enough to get the juices flowing and get me in the right direction.

Once you have spent some significant time on this one project, decide on your ‘sides’. In other words, what smaller tasks can you take on that are easy to do but help you to feel productive?  Perhaps it is reaching out to a couple of your contacts to make a connection.  Perhaps it is reading up on news for your industry.  Whatever those ‘sides’ are, just start doing something.  Go with the flow. Once you have accomplished these few tasks, take inventory.  If you still feel the pull of the outdoors, or whatever else may be distracting you, take 15 minutes to engage in that activity if possible.  Sometimes by feeding a craving temporarily, you come back to your work refreshed and ready to take on more.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure it would work, but I did this and the rest of my day was quite productive.  So, I urge you to try the “dinner plate” approach when you feel less than productive… it may just work!