This is the second in a series of four blog posts for the seminar, “The Tenets of Productivity” by BrainStorm’s Chief Brainiac, Scott Doty.
In this series, you’ll learn productivity tricks, tips, and find resources for further review.
Resist the Tyranny of the Urgent.
In Eisenhower’s Urgent vs. Important matrix, focus your energies on prioritizing activities in the “Important but Not Urgent” category—this is where flossing, reconciling with a good friend, pursuing our dream of traveling through Europe for a summer, & the like can be found (usually being ignored by hyper-efficient but terribly ineffective you).
Eat That Frog!
In his book by the same title, Brian Tracy discusses this odd axiom: If you start your day by eating a live frog, the rest of the day will only be better than that moment.
In the world of productivity, this translates to choosing the one looming task that you’d most like to see evaporate without your doing anything—the one that is awful and you have trouble bringing yourself to get done—and do it first thing in the day.
From that point on, everything else is easy sailing and the day is already in the win column.
Use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage.
Parkinson’s Law says that the amount of work you have to do will expand, as a gas, to fill the time you allot for it…i.e., if you decide you have until next Thursday at 5pm to plant that garden, you will not get it done a moment before that deadline.
Use this natural human inclination to your advantage—set far shorter deadlines for yourself on projects that matter, but that don’t feel urgent. Create a sense of urgency, and you will get it done earlier than you had thought was possible.
Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. Also known as timeboxing, this technique entails using one of those tomato-shaped kitchen ticker-timers as your central prop.
You set one for 25 minutes (the optimal amount of time the human brain can focus without fatigue), turn off anything correspondence related (unplug/turn off the phone, close email, etc), and dedicate yourself 100% to just one high-focus task until the timer goes off. When it does, force yourself to let the task be done for now.
This form of short-burst, high-intensity mono-focus really helps people who are easily distracted or bored by projects; these people often reward their 25-min sprint with something enjoyable (like a meal or a friendly phone call) before starting their next punch on the Pomodoro.
Read more from The Tenets of Productivity series:
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