I’m always on the hunt for that nirvana where organisation and productivity intersect. I imagine life to be filled with the satisfaction of jobs well done and the soothing and melodic chorus of quacks with my ducks all in a row.
Sadly, instead, the soundtrack of my life is cacophony of quacks from ducks that are flapping about madly everywhere.
A change of circumstance, a new year, means it is time to get on the front foot. Routine, organisation, planning.
And despite the many articles, the apps, the tips and tricks, there is no one size fits all for the perfect organisation system.
So I’m sharing a few articles that I’ve found interesting and how they might be incorporated, or not, into getting the best out of hours you have at hand.
And so you can line up those noisy ducks.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we.
David Kadavy recommends Monday should be your Prefrontal Day ~ where you can use you mind to its full potential, in this case, your prefrontal cortex. Now Monday might not be for you, as it is best to do this after a time of rest.
Productivity is less about time management than it is about mind management.
Your prefrontal cortex is a thin area across the front of your brain that is responsible for executive thinking. You use your prefrontal cortex to prioritize, to suppress urges, and to plan stuff.
On Prefrontal Mondays, I do executive-type thinking … I put a whiteboard on the floor, and I review – using only a marker and my prefrontal cortex – what’s going on in my business. What’s working? What’s not working? What should I do next? What should I stop doing? What is it, really (at the highest, most abstract level possible) that I’m really trying to accomplish, anyway?
The added benefit is that the thinking you do in a Prefrontal Monday session can inform the work you do throughout the rest of the week.
So you have your week planned, know what needs to be done and have some to-do lists mapped out.
But wait. Pick one day of the week to not schedule yourself for anything.
Karah from the space between has a favourite organisation trick.
I end up just as productive, if not more so, on that day than any other. And I think it’s because I end up doing what inspires me. Be it a project or a long walk with the dogs or a trip to the thrift store with the freedom of time to sift through all the things I normally skim over. Or all three of those things.
Now where to start with those to do lists.
Tsh, from The Art of Simple, has one tip. Do the thing in front of you.
But instead of looking at the whole—look at the pieces. Take things one at a time. Today, don’t focus on Friday. You’ll get there soon enough. Right now, simply focus on what’s next. Focus on the thing in front of you. Do that task, and when you’re done, do the next. One at a time.
Focus on those things making you anxious or uncomfortable and start there, says Tim Ferriss.
Write down the 3-5 things — and no more — that are making you most anxious or uncomfortable. They’re often things that have been punted from one day’s to-do list to the next …
Ask yourself: - “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?” “Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”
Block out at 2-3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today.
Read more of Tim’s productivity hacks here and follow his 8 steps for maximising efficacy.
And make sure you keep checking your to do list. I know I’m guilty of writing a list and never looking at it again.
The Time Management Ninja says three time a days is the optimum.
If you find yourself forgetting to review your list, try setting alerts to remind you to take time out to reference it.
His three tips are starting your day by planning, make a midday course correction and wrap up before the end of the work day.
He also suggests to focus on today.
Yesterday can teach, tomorrow may promise the world, but today is the one that gets it done.
So things are going swimmingly and you getting. stuff. done. Fabulous.
Brian Bailey suggests finding the right place to stop is vital to maintaining momentum on a project.
The small and inconsistent amount of time itself isn’t the primary challenge, though. It’s how that breaks your flow and momentum.
Be intentional about where you stop for the day. If you’re designing a web page or screen for an app, for instance, try stepping away from the laptop after you’ve made significant progress, but before it’s complete. The next time you dive in, it will be much easier to start.
And when all else fails, try following Marie Curie’s best productivity tips: Ignore gossip, keep detailed journals and forget your accomplishments.
The key insight is that progress–of any sort–is surprisingly motivational. Generate some progress, and you want to make more progress.
What key organising or motivational tip is working well for you in 2014?