When you are working, do you ever get distracted or find your mind wandering aimlessly? Do you feel like you should be working more efficiently?
I have a new tactic I am going to start today. Lately I have noticed that if I work on a project for an extended period of time, the more time I spend the less effective I become (an economist would probably bring up the law of diminishing returns, but I’m not an economist). It seems like I have been working on a couple tasks much longer than they should take, and I want to become more time efficient so I can accomplish what needs to be done.
Starting today, I am going to work in 30 minute increments – 25 minutes of work, 5 minute break. I am going to time myself and work as hard as I can for those 25 minutes, and then take a short break to let my mind recharge. I want to approach my work and projects as a series of short sprints rather than one long marathon. This will make my work more focused and prioritized as I set mini deadlines instead of just working without a plan.
In addition, I know that I have a short attention span. I know that I do better working in small chunks rather than in one big piece. It’s like I wrote before: I need to learn to work with my weaknesses. I don’t like doing things for long periods of time. I’ve done that while working out. Knowing that I hate running long distances and get bored easily, I know do sprints. I’d much rather run hard for 10-30 seconds and repeat several times than do one long run.
So this is my challenge for each work day: to work in 30 minute intervals. It must be a conscious effort because I know otherwise I will revert to my old habits.
I also want to write about a recent success. I started following Donald Miller’s Storyline Productivity Schedule and I have loved it so far (download here). There are a couple things I have really appreciated about it so far. First, the sections “If I could live today over again I’d” and “Things I get to look forward to today.” I love these sections because they get me in the right mindset at the start of each day. I focus on how I want to live my day and look forward to the good parts of the day. Second is “my life theme,” where I write out how I want to live my life. I’m still young and figuring out how I want to live my life, so I usually put “Arete,” which is the ancient Greek word for living with excellence and virtue. No matter what I am doing, that is how I want to live. Third, the planner has slots for 3 projects. For me, these are the 3 most important things in the day. Barring an emergency, if I get these three things done, then I had a good day. By prioritizing my top 3 tasks, I am able to focus on what is important. I encourage you to check it out.
I always want to do my best, and I think these two strategies will help me become more effective and efficient in my work. By working in sprint segments and prioritizing my work, I will get the key tasks done. I’m always open to new suggestions. Do you have any tips or tricks that you use to stay on task?