A couple of weeks ago I read a blog post that changed my life. I definitely owe Ryan Carson a thank you for posting How I Manage My Todos, Priorities and Calendar.
I have tried various productivity hacks over the years, but have never stuck with them. Typically I use a system like GTD just long enough to dig out of a hole. This time something stuck though. By sticking to 5 key ideas, I have seen my productivity explode.
5 Keys to Increased Productivity:
- Wake up early.
I have started waking up at 5:00 AM. This gives me time to get a few things done before I workout (usually 6am).
- Do not check email first thing in the morning.
Email is like a drug; once you start, it is hard to stop. I find that when I check email first thing in the morning, I end up spending all day in my inbox. Now I am trying to make sure that all of my key areas of focus receive attention BEFORE I check email. My typical schedule has me checking email no earlier than 10 am.
- The first task of each day is to create that day’s schedule.
This was a really new idea for me, but it makes complete sense. If I want to make sure everything gets done, I have to plan to do everything. Each morning I open up my calendar and my task list. I then schedule tasks and other priorities (time with family, workouts, meals) in all of the free time. I am starting to experiment with planning my daily schedule the night before.
- Know your priorities, and schedule them.
I have 5 areas that I need to focus on every day: Bizen sales, Bizen product development, L2M expansion, L2M process improvement, community involvement. I also have non-work priorities that I schedule in such as: time with my wife, exercise, kids activities, reading, etc. I try and schedule time for all of these things every day. For the 5 areas of my work, I schedule at least 1 pomodoro for each area, each day.
- Every task has a due date.
Nothing makes it into my todo list (I use OmniFocus) without a due date. If there are any past-due tasks when I am scheduling, I either do them right then or assign a new due-date. Sometimes I decide that a task is no longer important and delete it. But I never have tasks without a due date.