My last posts was about “things” that helped with productivity. This time I look at routine and process. For myself, these approaches have been transformational over the last several years.
Own your first couple hours
Don’t look at emails for the first three hours of your work day. Easier said than done, and I know some people don’t have work or lifestyles that allow for this. But if you can reserve the first three hours of the day to work on what you believe is a priority, you will be amazed how much you accomplish when you look back on the day or week. It speaks to whether you are working deliberately or reactively. Email is about communication and other people. You can still meet your responsibilities to others, but you are doing it in a fashion that isn’t interrupted.
On a related note…
Eliminate (most) notifications
Owning your first couple hours and being deliberate with the rest of the day is extremely difficult if you are getting email, text, Slack or other real time notifications. The mind naturally has to process alerts and then decision need to made whether to take immediate action.
R.I.P. whatever you were previously choosing to work on.
Eliminating notifications works for me by…
- Having a routine where you still make time for all these communication methods, but you just batch them or have designated times for back and forth communication.
- Having a contact escalation method for your team to reach you and for you to reach them. As an example your key team members have IM/Text access, but only use for priority/urgent communication. The key is to find a balance where immediate communication is limited to what is truly needed.
Get everything out of your head
Holding things in your mind and having to remember to-dos, action items, and ideas is a huge mental drain. If I think of something I need to do, I put it into my system. I use a mix of cloud-based, cross-platform apps: Trello for action items, Calendars for blocking time for key priorities, and OneNote for call notes, research and pretty much everything else.
For myself, when I have to hold something in my head to remember, do, or consider, it will keep popping up as I do other things. If I know that it lives somewhere that is part of my process, I can let it go until I get to it with intentionally and focus.
Have a backlog
Everything can’t be done immediately. If you aren’t going to be able to do something right away, have a place where you put long term ideas or even action items. Just make sure that you work into your routine looking at these items. Later on, you may find some things weren’t as important as you thought, or you may find that you are now ready to tackle some of these. This approach lends itself to prioritization and batching the completion of similar items.
If you have found routines or processes that help you at work or in your life, I would love to hear about them. You can send me a tweet.