I have been writing a blog series on productivity and one of the blog readers asked me,” So, what are you doing to be productive this year?”
Here is my response.
2016 is a lot about learning to be productive for me. Why? Simply because I struggled with it last year. A lot of how productive we are is dependant on being able to decide what not to do versus what to do. I have tried a lot of things but the one that has worked wonders for me is Blocking my time
Hang on, if you are thinking that I have a calendar and I have a to do list and I do that already… that is not what blocking your time is about. To do lists, in my experience are a perfect source of anxiety. You keep looking at it and feeling unproductive unless of course your tasks are…
Yoga, go for lunch, get a facial, watch a film…( if this is you, stop reading, this blog is not for you )
I learnt this technique from one of my fav author Cal Newport and this is how you block your time .
The content and examples here are taken from Cal Newport’s blog Study Hacks
The image above shows my plan for a random Wednesday earlier this month. My plan was captured on a single sheet of 24 pound paper in a Black n’ Red twin wire notebook.
This page is divided into two columns. In the left column, I dedicated two lines to each hour of the day and then divided that time into blocks labeled with specific assignments. In the right column, I add explanatory notes for these blocks where needed.
Dealing with unexpected
Notice that I leave some extra room next to my time blocks. This allows me to make corrections as needed if the day unfolds in an unexpected way. This is the most ignored and perhaps the biggest road block to productivity
How have I personally benefitted from following this method?
1.In the past I would write a to do list with 20 – 25 tasks and then I had a calendar full of appointments. So, when exactly was I going to do the tasks I had on my To do list? I felt exhausted and unproductive at the end of the day. Now, I know I only can complete a certain number of tasks on top of my existing appointments. So, in essence I have become realistic and as a result productive.
2. In the past I would not prioritize my work. Now, I did grade my to do list with priority A, B and C but then out of 25 items 7 were graded A – high importance and can I really achieve 7 important tasks, was not a thought that occurred to me. I now know that I can only get to 1 may be 2 important tasks done. So, I choose high importance work carefully. I personally, start my day by putting my daughter’s time block first because when that is blocked I am mentally ready to do everything else and I also don’t find myself on my devices with her around.
3.In the past I would be lost in my inbox for a while first thing in the morning. I now know that is at that time I do my most creative work .So, I block that time for Deep work ( Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task). Notifications are off and all I am focussed on is deep work.
I love this line from Cal Newport
” Using your inbox to drive your daily schedule might be fine for the entry-level or those content with a career of cubicle-dwelling mediocrity, but the best knowledge workers view their time like the best investors view their capital, as a resource to wield for maximum returns”
So, this is probably the most effective thing I have done so far to be productive. If you have a thought running through your mind that this will not work for me … all I am going to say is – How do you know ? If you have not even tried it….
"I attended your story telling course some time back. And I've enjoyed keeping up my knowledge with your blog. You may not have realised however, that the Whole of Government is implementing Internet Seperation. Hence I'm not able to access the links to read your articles. Could I suggest including a QR code in your emails so that I can use my mobile to scan it and gain immediate access to the article? It would be most helpful"