5 steps to get the important done
- Know what your goals are. Without proper goal setting, working hard doens't make much sense. You're highly likely to do busy work rather than important work. Short to medium term goals are most effective. Set your horizon at about 3 months. As things tend to change, there's no point in looking much further ahead for really important work.
- Focus on what's important now. The well known priorities. Choose no more than 2 priorities per day. Select any more and they stop being priorities. It shouldn't be too difficult. If you find yourself having trouble setting priorities try the Pareto principle: What 20% of tasks will cause 80% of the results? Those are your priorities. Give these the time they deserve and see your performance increase 10x.
- Implement and adhere to Focus Blocks. Focus blocks are probably my favourite. Every morning, I enjoy 4-hour blocks stretches of time during which I work on my 2 priorities. This 4 hour stretch is a good amount of time to get the important things done. And the beauty is, that the most important things of my day usually take less than 4 hours.
- Don't allow for distractions. OK, I'll admit: this isn't easy for most of us. And of course, I’m no saint either. I would like to encourage you to do it. Protect your time religiously. Accept no meetings during your focus blocks. Don't look at email. And the most important thing: no phone one your desk. If it's there, you'll grab it. This is easily the biggest distraction of all.
- Take regular breaks. Breaks are essential. You can't possibly be focussed for 4 hours straight. You'll distract yourself from the work you need to be doing if you don't allow for breaks. So plan them accordingly. Go for a 10 minute break after 50 minutes of focussed time. During this break, I'd recommend to ignore your phone and be idle. Walk. Talk to colleagues. You'll have some great ideas.
Articles about Productivity, Effectivity and Time Management
Here's a list of all articles I've written to help you do more in less time:
Best books on productivity
My personal productivity workflow is a combination of things I've learned from the books below. There's tons of useful information in these books. What works for you, depends on your personal preferences. So read more, and apply what works for you. For example, Focus Blocks I've taken from Tim Ferriss. Attention Management from Chris Bailey. Expectation Management from Covey. Only doing whatever's the most valuable activity (prioritization) by Cal Newport, Stephen Covey and Tim Ferriss. And finally, focus on Major Area's by Peter Drucker.
- Chris Bailey - Hyper Focus
- Peter Drucker - The Effective Executive
- Tim Ferriss - The 4 Hour Work Week
- Stephen R. Covey - 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- Cal Newport - Deep Work