Given that we are all limited by the available time each week I’ve been trying some different things to get more productive. And I don’t mean doing more stuff, I mean getting a better outcome for my business and myself.
I have the attention span of a goldfish, so I understand the struggle. I’ve read loads of books and listened to lots of podcasts on the subject because I know I have to get better. Here are three things I’ve found that work for me.
1 – Try to block out time in whole days
I started doing this a year ago when I realised I was wasting so much time in between meetings, and never getting to the important things.
On Mondays I work with my business partner. Tuesdays to Thursdays I take meetings. Fridays I work by myself. I’m getting so much more done, and meeting with people between Tuesday and Thursday isn’t really not ruining my business prospects.
Of course, you don’t have to follow this exact pattern, but blocking whole days has seriously reduced the amount of ‘dead’ time in my week.
2 – Upgrade your to-do list
I don’t mean fancy software, just the notes function on my phone.
Instead of a single list, I use the following:
- Anywhere list – things to think about/do that don’t require my computer.
- Computer – actions that I can only take on my computer
- Home – actions that I can only take at home
- Maybe/someday – actions that I might like to take one day
- In tray – for random things that I think of, notes from conferences, links to articles I don’t have time to read right now. Once a week I transfer these into the other lists or delete them.
- Plus a list for each important person in my life of things to discuss with them next time we get the chance for a proper discussion.
The upshot of this is that I don’t waste time scanning to-do items that I can’t act on. And if I do get a spare five minutes but don’t have my computer, I can check the anywhere list or my in-tray and get a few things done.
The secret sauce here is to book 30 minutes with yourself once a week (see next point for how) and review all of your lists. Keeping them in good shape will really help your stress levels and make it that much easier to plough through everything that needs to happen.
3 – Use the Pomodoro technique
You know those things that you really should get to, but somehow never do? This is the solution.
Firstly, book 30 minutes in your diary. Then, set the timer on your phone for 25 minutes, and making yourself do nothing except the task for 25 minutes. At about 10 minutes you may start having doubts, but push through and you’ll be surprised when the timer goes.
And that’s it. No silver bullets I’m afraid. But get these three going, and you’ll get lots more done. I don’t know about you, but being productive is one of the best things I can do when it comes to keeping the stress down to a workable level.