This is the third 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.
Multi-Tasking vs. Mono-Tasking
Some to-do’s, such as writing a business proposal or driving on a busy highway, are high focus activities; others, such as chopping carrots or making the bed, require low focus. The essence of good multi-tasking is combining one HIGH focus with one LOW focus activity, such as listening to an engaging TedTalk while folding laundry or reading a cerebral article while running on the treadmill.
Productive people separate their to-do lists into “high focus” and “low focus” columns, and look for opportunities to mix & match. They also recognize that some projects are too important to do during multi-tasking—for these, they follow the model of Sherlock Holmes in reveling in the profound productivity of mono-tasking.
Of all the most common 21st-century distractions, surely correspondence is king. Among the thorny bushes of social media, texting, email, phone calls, & meetings, it is tremendously difficult to create a flowering productivity.
Productive people hack away at the bushes: they prune some based on clear usage guidelines (“I will only check my email at 11am and then again at 4pm”), they build skills relating to the bushes (like faster typing and more diplomatically succinct ways to end conversations), and some bushes they uproot entirely (“just say no” to FB).
Routinize & Batch Small Decisions to Keep Them Small
Unproductive people waste a lot of energy on small decisions like what to wear or where to go for dinner this Friday night. Productive individuals “batch” their small decisions—they do them all at once.
For example, they will prepare all of that week’s meals, or choose all of that week’s outfits, or do all of that week’s errands, in one focused batch of energy.
Thus, they save themselves the angst of making manifold daily decisions about picayune concerns, and open up mindspace for accomplishing tasks of real value.
Shakespeare had it right on this topic~ you have to be true to yourself. What time of day do you focus best? Gather your most high-value, high-focus projects into that window. Do you focus best after eating, or before eating? Are you only effectively disciplined when you have an accountability partner?
Take the time to know yourself, and then act accordingly and without apology to those who don’t operate as you do.
Read more from The Tenets of Productivity series:
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