Working from home for the last couple of years, I’ve tried just about every productivity idea, software and system in the book to get more (or any!) stuff done, and pretty much most of them don’t work for more than about 2 days… after which they drive you so mad trying to follow their complex productivity rules that you feel you want to explode!
So this is the latest system I’m using, I reckon it’s pretty good whether you work at home or in an office, and I certainly can’t claim to have invented it. I’ve cobbled it together from a few sources (Eben Pagan, Tim Ferriss, me…) Here we go:
1. Start the day with a list of a couple (no more!) of really important things you need to get done. Write these down on a piece of paper on your desk. As you get them done through the day, put a big satisfying line through them! Alternatively use a simple text document, and write DONE next to things as you get them, well, done.
Now the IMPORTANT bit:
2. Work in the following way. 50 minutes work, 10 minutes rest, 50 minutes work, 30 minutes rest. Repeat as necessary.
During each 50 minutes block you work 100% on the task of work you have set yourself. No email, no youtube, no IM, nada, just hard work on the most important task you have to do that will inevitably lead to more money for you or your company. Sounds tacky, but that is what work is for, isn’t it?
I have a little desktop timer/alarm widget for the Mac that I set for 50 mins, it chimes when it’s time for the break.
3. At the end of every 50 minutes, make a note somewhere, on or off the computer, of what you have done. This is your work diary. It helps you see how much you are doing, making you feel good about yourself when you review it at the end of the day.
4. In the 10 and 30 minute breaks, get far away from the computer if you can. Make a cup of tea, go for a walk, talk to the cat… Don’t do any sneaky work!! (If you are in an office and can’t leave the computer, read some relaxing newsy stuff etc)
5. Never process all your email until you have done at least one 50+50+10 stint. If you really have to look at it, do, but don’t start answering email. Make ’email’ one of your 50 minute sessions, but not during the first 2 or 3 of these 50 min sessions of the day.
I find it is best tackled just before or after lunch. And once you get into it, empty your inbox! Process all of it! Then leave it. Close that program. No cheating. Email is a ‘productivity’ killer. The biggest. Give it it’s allotted time, no more.
Well, it’s working a treat for me. More work, less guilt about not doing enough, and a good record of everything I’ve done. Even if you just get two, max 3 of those 50+10+50+30 sessions done per day, and you don’t break the rules of distraction, you will be doing more than before, guaranteed.
Thought it might help someone somewhere! Comments welcome…