This post is for Lawrence.
Let me also preface that I’m not some productivity guru. This is just what works for me.
To start, too many productivity systems are exceedingly complex. They require learning new habits, a lot of them, for the system to work. You can’t just piecemeal the thing; you have to entirely change your workflow and process. That doesn’t jibe with me.
To my mind, if you’re trying to get things done, you need to do the following:
- Know what you have to do (have a list of items)
- Know what is actually essential (your most important task)
- Plan to do as much as you’re capable of on your worst day.
So know where you’re going and plan to get these like a mortal human being.
So how does this work in practice?
- Schedule your regulars
Given my training load, my weeks are consistent: I’m training clients from 6am to 3pm on most days, with odd openings here and there. Further, I have recurring tasks that I have to do on a weekly or monthly basis. They all go into my regularly scheduled events. I don’t think about them and, cognitively, I don’t allocate resources. It’s on the calendar, so it gets done.
2. Make a list
Also a big “duh” but all I do is make a list of non-recurring things to do. From there, I prioritize in process, given the demands of that day or week. Sometimes I fill the extras on Sunday night, and on other days I do it the day of.
3. Aim for only 1 thing
This is akin to how I approach ANY habit. I don’t bite off more than I can chew. I’m human, and I schedule as if I’m not going to be terribly productive. If I get 1 important task done per day, that’s 50 work weeks of important tasks! If I get more, all the better. This is akin to the “1-3-5” system, only instead it’s the “1” system.
Bonus tip: Have children
If you want to realize how much screwing around you’ve been doing, have kids who take priority over every non-essential task. You’ll find that whatever you’ve been bandying on about, trying to micromanage every triviality, gives way to cold, hard, realistic completion. Because similar to how you were SO CERTAIN everyone was watching you in high school (and wasn’t), you can also be sure that NOBODY has expectations for your outcome that you do.
Good enough is good enough if you do it long enough. Schedule recurring tasks, make a list with just-in-time prioritization, and do only 1 damn thing. That’s how I “get things done.”