Yesterday I was on call with a Mentee and he asked me, "How do I make today the most productive day?"
It was 8:15 AM in the morning when he asked me this question. Later at night, around 10:15 PM, I receieved a message from him that said "Yes! Truly it was the most productive day."
I am going to tell exactly what I told him.
When we say about productivity, there are 3 critical elements to it. So Productivity is the ability to make progress on your most meaningful goals. Based on this definition, the core elements of productivity are:
- Deciding what is meaningful
- Prioritizing wactivities will lead to meaningful results
- Making progress on those meaninful activities
So I told him that we will follow the same process.
1. Deciding what is meaningful
I asked him to start his day by assessing his long-term goals. What do he want to achieve in the period of next 1 year and in next 3 months?
#1 Decide your goal for current or next 1 week
Spend around 10 minutes reviewing or deciding what do you want to achieve in next 3 months?
#2 List out the activities that will lead to your goal
After you have your priority for next 3 months, It's time to figure out the activities that will lead to achieving that goal.
Spend next 15 minutes, listing out all the acitvities. You shouldn't go into micro details at this step, just an outline on what to do.
#3 Break down activities and add the Impact-Ability-Time Metrics
After you've listed the activities. Spend next 15 minutes breaking down bigger activities into smaller. Anything that would take more than 2 hours to do, should be broken down.
For each of the activity or task, add the 3 metrics.
Time: How much time will it take to complete this task?
Ability: How easy it is for you to do this task? or How likely would you be able to do it?
Impact: How impactful is this task for your goal?
For Ability and Impact, I add a number from 0 to 10. For Time estimate, I go with the no. of minutes will it take to complete this task.
This list of tasks would be equivalent to your weeks productive time. And depending on the speed or complexity, it would take 45 - 60 minutes.
2. Prioritizing Activities for meaningful results
If you have been following along the steps from last part. You'll now have a list of tasks broken down into smaller tasks and with each task you have the impact, time-estimate and a score for easy of doing(Ability).
There's limited time in a day. So we can't do it all. We will need to prioritize what are the most important tasks that would bring greater results.
Choose your Golden Eggs: To prioritize, I start by picking the tasks would would have the greatest impact with lowest time-estimate and high ability. These are my golden eggs that would yield the most significant results.
Aim for tasks with 7-10 Ability, 30-60 Mins of time-estimate and 7-10 Impact level.
Choose your Significant Eggs: These are the sizeable tasks that would take more time to complete with the same ability and same level of impact. These tasks bring significant results and are crucial to achieving your goals. It's time to prioritize them.
Aim for tasks with 5-6 Impact level, 60-120 minutes of time-estimate and 7-10 ability.
Choose your Insignificant Nugget: With the above two lists, I am mostly done for my tasks for the day. But to sequeze a little more into it, I choose my insignificant Nuggets. There are the tasks which would not have the greatest impact but they are easy to do and would take less of your time. I squeeze 1-2 hours of these tasks into my schedule to get more done.
Since you'll be working on them at the last and wouldn't have much energy. I recommend you to choose tasks with high levels of ability.
Aim for tasks with 5-6 Impact level, 30-60 minutes of time-estimate and 7-10 ability.
After you have choosen the 3 types of tasks. This is your list of tasks to work on. It'll take around 20-30 minutes to choose your tasks.
3. Making progress
The first part of the process was the decide on the goal and collect the list of activities that will bring the results. The second part was the prioritize and make sure that your time is well spent. All the planning have brought us to the point where we actually make the progress.
Start with your first task and set a timer for the time-estimate of the task. And start working on it. Don't get up, don't take any calls or do anything untill you have completed the task.
After you have completed the task, take a 5 minute break to drink water. And get started with the next task after the break is completed.
Repeat this process untill your golden eggs are completed. After the completion of Golden eggs, take a long 30-60 mins break. Don't use any screen in your break time. East something. Or sit in sunlight or take a walk. Do anything physical.
Pomodoro Technique works well for me. Start the pomodoro session and take the list of tasks you'll be completing in this pomodoro session. Take breaks when the timer runs out. And get back to work when the break ends.
Take a long break after complete Pomodoro session. And get back to work after the long break ends.