A Productivity Trick
All of us sometimes feel like we’re not able to get anything done. Like the world is out to distract us at any cost from doing what matters… to distract our attention from the needle-moving tasks and direct it towards the trivialities of life.
For example, when I sat down to write this post, my phone notified me that I had a new email. Then, there was a Facebook notification. Then, I was notified of a new lead in my business who visited my landing page. Then, the neighbor’s cat came to visit (hungry and probably looking for food).
I wasn’t worried too much. After all, I had plenty of time to write a blog post— this one.
An hour later, I was nowhere closer to done.
That’s it, I said to myself.
Time to pull out the big guns.
I made sure I charged my laptop. I put away my charger. Phone on silent. I put on my noise cancelling headphones and launched a video on YouTube. And I got to work on all the projects I had that I knew were in the needle-moving category – meaning, they would create a noticeable improvement in my business and move me closer to my goals.
I knew I had about 4-5 hours to get things done before my laptop would run out of juice.
And I had a list of 4 needle-moving activities that absolutely had to be done.
Guess what happened?
I was able to work with insane focus and speed – because I had a deadline, because I knew that I’d be done in 4-5 hours and if I finished the needle-moving activities, I would basically be able to take the rest of the day off if I wanted to.
Here’s why this works.
1) Anything worth doing is worth having a deadline for. The Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the allotted time. In other words if you have a week to write an email, you will take a week. If you have 30 minutes, well guess what – it will take you 30 minutes.
If you only have 4-5 hours to work with, then you have to plan your time very carefully so you do not waste any of it.
2) However, even more important is the 4-5 hour limit. First of all, the 8 hour day is not suited to knowledge work at all. 99% of people probably can do 3-4 hours of “deep work” – like writing, designing, coding, etc. 5 hours if they’re extraordinary. This approach lets you focus the energy you have available for deep work and get things done – instead of diluting your focus on social media, etc.
Now, it just so happens that my laptop’s battery lasts just the perfect amount of time. It might be different for you. You might have one of those fancy ultrabooks that go for an entire day… or you might have a desktop computer. So you might have to figure something else out. Like, just put a timer on your phone for 4 hours and 30 minutes, and put your phone somewhere out of your reach.
Let me know what your productivity tricks are!