In aid of increasing my productivity this year, I have been doing a lot of reading and research about how to create a schedule that will enable me to work more proactively instead of reactively. I have been looking everywhere from blogs such as Cal Newport, Jessica Hirsche to reading Manage Your Day to Day by Jocelyn K. Glei, to watching online videos.
Here are the top tips I’ve learned so far for creating that brilliant schedule.
1. Mornings (Manage your day-to-day)
Get up early! This is the hardest thing for me but I’m trying one step at a time. Write a post it note with your goals for the day (keep it short) from most challenging to least and then start with the most difficult one. As Manage your Day- to- Day describes “Start your day with your most meaningful creative work, and leave “reactive work”- like responding to emails and other messages for later.”
Don’t spend your mornings on emails if that is when you are the most productive. This seems to be the golden rule, and for me its true, by the time I’ve answered all the emails I’m exhausted and can’t focus on the next task. Much better is scheduling a time during the day perhaps after lunch, (with the post lunch lag) to answer them. This is a brilliant post on Virtual Trombonist on keeping your inbox clear.
3. Focus blocks, set limits and progress markers
This post by Steve Pavlina explains in how to do a full days work in 90 minutes. It’s all about creating hard edges that stop your task from taking longer than they need to. This starts with deciding at the start of the task what your milestone is and setting a time limit. I have started setting 30, 60 or 90 minute timers for my activities. It’s amazing how much it’s helping me focus on the task at hand. My next step will be setting start and finish times for my workday.
4. Fun work time/ Unnecessary creation
In this humorous post by Jessica Hische, she advocates, scheduling a fixed time every week for fun/ side projects/ unnecessary creation. As I find so often it’s too easy to procrastinate on those side projects, where there is no real deadline. So putting this time in your calendar, so you can’t plan anything else is brilliant solution. You can also do the for “deep projects” as Cal Newport calls them.
5. Admin time
Another brilliant tip from Jessica Hische is set aside one day a week to deal with all the admin work that clog up your time. Either at the start or end of the week. This way you won’t feel so you don’t feel so guilty about spending your time on admin work during the week. It is also an opportunity to plan the upcoming week as Cal Newport advices. These are two things I have just started doing, not particularly successfully yet.
Most importantly, it takes time to build these habits so start small as BJ Fogg says. Use triggers to help you, for example, if you want to exercise more, start by doing one push up after you pee. If you want to get up earlier like me, start by getting up 5 minutes earlier and build it up every week. Also keep the habits frequent, like work on a project at the same time or same place every time.
If you have more tips on how you to create a productive schedule/ routine let me know!