I started implementing three key points from his talk over the past week and already I can see a big different in my productivity.
1) Tie Your Shoes Before The Race
The phrase is mine, but the concept is universal and means to make sure you get yourself ready before the race starts, instead of during the race. When it comes to productivity, it means to plan your day out, before you start your day, not during your day. Otherwise a person is much more likely to fall into reactive working verses proactive working. Peter suggests planning your day in the morning before you look at anything…even your email or phone.
I’ve heard others plan their day the night before. My brain slowly closes down as the day goes on, so night time planning doesn’t seem to work for me.
2) Calendar Everything
I already use my calendar extensively and would be lost without it, but up until last week, I didn’t include daily tasks in my calendar. Instead, my tasks were kept offline in a notebook separated by days as seen below…
Peter says that if you don’t properly partition your time throughout the day for each task, you’ll undoubtably run out of time and not get everything done that you wanted to. So instead, he says to move all your daily tasks into your calendar with an allotted amount of time, and then stick to the schedule throughout the day. Let your calendar be your guide, don’t trust yourself to keep yourself on track…especially in the beginning when you are trying to form the habit.
Here’s what my calendar looked like this week with my tasks added in as the light green boxes (the black lines are covering several sensitive tasks that just happen to be happening this week)…
3) The Visible Countdown
The last step is to create a visual countdown for each segment of your day so you remind yourself to not run over on time. I’ve used a task timer for a while and find it extremely beneficial to keep me hyper focused. If I need to go to the bathroom, or get a drink of water, I tend to push myself until the task is done because I don’t want to loose my focus. The timer is sort of like a fitness trainer on my desktop, reminding me to keep pushing until I’m done. Then when I’m done, I can take my break, instead of during the task.
Here’s what my timer looks like on my desktop tucked in the far lower right corner of my screen…
Three simple actions that have already proven positive for me, but it’s only been a week, so I’ll keep you posted on the long term benefits.