What I do to be more productive
1. Lose the phone
I love my phone! I love tech. I love beta testing new stuff. I'm a magpie for new apps. But I can 'waste' time falling down rabbit holes.
I've read about a couple of people lately who don't have a phone/smart phone. I get it. They're probably bad for us in so many ways but definitely in the context of productivity. Yes, they can help us and my favourite app, Twos, definitely does, but they can also hinder us without immense discipline.
2. Ditch the overwhelm
This is a big one for me. I acquire new tasks and to dos like it's going out of fashion. Some weeks I get little done because of the overwhelm. That's not strictly true - I get a lot done but often the reactive stuff rather than strategic stuff. On those days, I say to Chris when I come home, I did nothing today. Meaning I spent most of the day in meetings/on calls/troubleshooting/dealing with issues. But the to do list remained unchanged.
Overwhelm reduces my headspace. I can't think clearly to identify the priorities when so much other stuff is clamouring for my time. This is why I often sit at weekends going through my lists, emails, notes to make sense of them all, to prioritise in Twos, to stick Post-Its on the wall with my key projects. I get so much more done when my head is clear and not bombarded.
4. One thing
Post-Its are great and have saved my sanity on many occasions. One Post-It, one thing.
In a previous job, I had a Kanban on my wall. Everything I needed to do was on there (1 Post-It/1 Thing). The entire plan was prioritised and dated.
It also linked to the piles on the floor (see below). My files moved from pile to pile depending on their status and next steps. There were about 8 different steps I had to work through.
I'm into my Filofax at the moment. I'll often sit, with a coffee and a free ten minutes, jotting in my Filofax. I might repeat some of the items in Twos, I'll update my calendar, I'll reflect on what's coming up, what I need to do. It gives me clarity. Often items will be transferred into Twos but writing things down is a bit like a safety net. Later, I'll cross through everything I've actioned.
7. A bed
Or the floor. When I've got too many plates spinning, I will make small piles of paper on the bed. (Or any other available, large flat surface). Each pile is one task or one project. I can then take one pile, work on it, complete it and file it. And then take the next one. Until I'm done or have run out of time.
I also have pretty paperclips to join small piles of paper together. It makes me feel more organised. I'll even put a paperclip on a single sheet to separate it from the others, and so that it's not lost in a mound of paperwork.
8. Start early
I like the quiet of an early morning. I like to be in work before anyone else. I like to set out my stall and get myself organised.
In the early hours of the morning, it's good to revisit the plan, know what I need to do that day, where I should focus.
It's the lack of clarity that throws me. Spending a bit of time getting my ducks in a row always pays dividends.