33 Rules to Boost Productivity
I violated Rule #26, Single-handling, by stopping to write this blog post, but I needed to follow Rule #27, Randomize, and write an incredibly bad blog post (Rule #28 Insanely Bad) about something. It’s been a few days since I blogged, and the dead air was bugging me a bit.
Anyway, there are some very useful ideas in this list posted on Steve Pavlina’s Personal Development site. Some of my favorites are:
#7 Timeboxing. Give yourself a fixed time period, like 30 minutes, to make a dent in a task. Don’t worry about how far you get. Just put in the time. See Timeboxing for more.
#24 Continuum. At the end of your workday, identify the first task you’ll work on the next day, and set out the materials in advance. The next day begin working on that task immediately.
#16 Minuteman. Once you have the information you need to make a decision, start a timer and give yourself just 60 seconds to make the actual decision. Take a whole minute to vacillate and second-guess yourself all you want, but come out the other end with a clear choice. Once your decision is made, take some kind of action to set it in motion.
Time management must be one of the most difficult challenges for time-starved 21st Centurians. We are assaulted with information at every turn. Magazines with scary titles like “Always On” (my subway reading material of choice this morning) glamourize being tethered to your career or job as some sort of hyper, cool, modern state of being. We have become the information equivalents of humpback whales, swimming in a sea of tiny particles of information which we collect in our seive-like minds, constantly consuming, swimming non-stop gorging ourselves, taking in everything, rejecting nothing…
I would imagine I’m not the only one who wrestles with this modern conundrum. What happened to the simple things? They’ve become undeniably complex. “Oh, the simple things make me happy. You know, a walk on the beach, a home-cooked meal…” No one has time, let alone enough disposable income for “simple pleasures” when after all the day’s needs are attended to, it’s 10pm and too late to cook a meal, or that $1000 could better be spent on some new gadgets, or maybe career training, or perhaps a new wardrobe to signal to management you’re ready for that next step up the corporate ladder, than a beach vacation (the idea sounds almost irresponsible, or at least horribly luxurious).
But since we’re aware of this Catch 22, and don’t expect to solve it immediately, we apply hueristics, simple rules to solve complex problems. The solutions may not be the most elegant, but at least they usually remove the vexing conundrums off your immediate radar screen, so a new batch can crop up, like forests of plankton in the oceans of information we seem destined to swim in.