I posted this on the Cheezburger intranet this morning:
The key here was making a to-do list instead of having my inbox be my to-do list. Once I actually went through all the e-mail and made a list of things to do, it was really easy. Here’s how I did it:
Last night, I did all the prep work. I went through my entire inbox and removed each item. Where appropriate, I moved it to my to-do list.
Then, as a final step, I prioritized the list. Not the entire list, but the top 5-10 items. This was simple…I looked at each item, asked “is this important?” and if it was, I moved it to the top of the list.
When I sat down to work this morning it was super straightforward to be productive: just start working down from the top of the list. Easy peasy.
All of this was based on two things I’ve heard. First, that a key to being productive is getting off to a fast start in the morning. And, the way to do that is by making a to-do list for tomorrow at the end of today.
Second, I friend told me about a co-worker who:
- made a to-do list of only three items each day
- made the commitment to finish those items that day no matter how long they took, and
- did no more than the three items on her list in a given day
So, if she wasn’t done with her three items at quitting-time, then she stayed until she was done. Or, if she was done at noon, then she left for the day.
“How was her productivity?”, I asked. ”Off the charts,” my friend replied.
Essentially, this is a tortoise-vs-hare issue. Most of us are hares: we make huge to-do lists and don’t get much done. The tortoise proceeds slowly and methodically and wins the race.
To summarize, improve productivity by getting off to a fast start by making a to-do list for the next day before you leave for the day, and by taying focused on a small list of to-dos, and committing to getting them done.