Productivity and Email Tips
More productivity in daily life is something we could all benefit from. Productivity is a big part of success. The ability to make the correct decisions (such as what to focus on to reach our goals) is crucial.
Productivity to Reach Goals
You do need some goals to have something to aim at and be able to measure your progress against.
Let’s assume you have some goals, they don’t all need to be grandiose things, one could be as simple as finishing that to do list or work related tasks that have been set for you by your boss.
First, eliminate distractions and try not to pay attention to the wrong things. You should not stumble through each day accidentally you should be purposeful doing things with your goals in mind.
It helps if you take five minutes to create a mental model of how you want the day to go. The subconscious mind is very powerful and it helps if you give it a script to work with.
Example Task: Cut a Tree Down
First select the right tool for the job. Do you pick the axe in the shed or do you think and realise you could borrow a chainsaw from your friend?
Two hours of hard work hacking away at the tree with a blunt axe is a huge waste of time. You need to work smarter, get the chainsaw, oil it up, plan which way you want the tree to fall then start cutting.
I love to think, imagine and analyse but there comes a point where you just need to start doing. Maybe you first had a few swings with the blunt axe, which is okay if you learn fast.
Defining the key task is the first step. Or learning from your mistakes, failing fast, and then getting to the key task.
Once you have the key task you can work hard on it. Putting lots of hard work into the wrong task gets the same result as doing the right key task for a fraction of the time.
For another productivity story about working smarter instead of harder read the sharing information secret.
Arranging Tasks to Improve Productivity
Defining the right tasks and the order to focus on them is a vital skill needed for productivity.
Productivity is picking the right task to do first and then how well you can focus on that task and execute.
Perhaps one task will make all the others easier, it will give you momentum (like borrowing the chainsaw). One task will give you the greatest return on the effort you invest (a five-minute call to a friend to borrow the chainsaw).
This is like the 80:20 rule (Pareto’s principle). 20% of the effort can achieve 80% of the task.
Being busy isn’t hard work. Many people are ‘busy’ and not productive.
Doing many tasks that are non-essential will not help you reach your goal faster. We default to the easy tasks first, but you have to push yourself and save easy things until last. Start with the big challenges so you don’t use up all your willpower on simple tasks and don’t reach the most important tasks.
Productivity and Answering Email Tips
Does every email need an answer?
Emails are other people trying to get you to stop what you are doing and help them with their agenda. Focus on your work and don’t be so easily distracted.
Does the email need an answer right this moment? The world will not end if you do not reply to most emails within a few hours. Can your responding to email be batched into a convenient slot for you during the day?
Maybe 12-1pm while eating lunch and 4-5pm when you have used up all of your creative problem-solving juices for the day. Any particularly difficult emails can be responded to the next morning when you have a fresh mind and eyes.
If you are afraid you will forget an email, check services like Boomerang which let you schedule emails and set reminders.
Your Most Productive Hours
Starting the day by answering email is not productive (especially as soon as you wake up).
Find your golden time of when you are most productive, for me, it is in the morning, once breakfast is out of the way and I have sat down. This golden time is when I can handle the most challenging or creative projects for the day. It is a waste of my resources to devote this prime time to emails. Emails are done later after I have accomplished my biggest challenge for the day.
I guard this special window of time, I deflect meeting requests, phone calls, email responses to a later time. The more control you have over your time, the better you can manage it.
For others, your prime time could be 10 pm – 2 am when the kids have gone to bed. For everyone it is different and it may change over time. When you have a productive day, at the end of it look back and assess why was it productive. At what time did you do certain types of tasks, did you get an early win in the day, and this gave you momentum?
Learn from your mistakes, but also learn from your wins!
I find that If I win at the morning, I usually win at the whole day.