How often do you think if you had known how difficult something was going to be, you would have never started in the first place? Underestimating how difficult a task is going to be can be a valuable form of ignorance because without it, you might not start the project in the first place. In this article we are going to be looking at how ignorance can be beneficial when it comes to choosing what you should be working on.
A weekly review is a dedicated time to reflect on what you did this week, and what you will do in the coming week. It's an opportunity to re-align your goals, make improvements to your workflow, and to gain perspective on where you are on your journey. There are many benefits to getting into the habit of performing a weekly review. In this article we're going to be looking into weekly reviews, the benefits of doing a weekly review, and how you can set up your own weekly review for success.
The "Eat the Frog" productivity method is where you pick the most important thing from your to-do list and work on it first. It's a very simple way to prioritise your work and ensure you are always investing your energy into your most important work. The phrase was coined in Brian Tracy's productivity book, "Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time", and is taken from the Mark Twain quote "if you have to eat a live frog, do it first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day".
The time it takes you to complete tasks is often longer than you expected. This happens to me quite regularly, and so I'm sure it probably happens to you too. Underestimating the time required to complete a task is known as the planning fallacy. The planning fallacy can have very serious consequences such as projects overrunning, deadlines missed, and budgets obliterated. This is why understanding the planning fallacy is so important. Once you are aware of the problem you can take steps to make better predictions on how long a task will take.
An important thing to consider when choosing what to work on next is how to minimise context switches. Whilst preemption can be important under certain circumstances, generally you want to avoid wasting time and energy on the meta work of switching tasks. Batching your work is a good way to ensure you maintain focus on the given task by dealing with similar tasks all in one go, instead of sporadically throughout your other tasks.
Task preemption is when you temporarily stop working on your current task to switch to a different task, with the intention of completing the previous task at a later date. In certain situations, switching from what you are currently working on to work on something else can be more efficient, but it comes at the price of switching costs. This is a counterintuitive, but important thing to consider if you want to optimise how you work to get the most done.
The pomodoro technique is a productivity method that breaks tasks into short, focused periods of work. During each work period, you focus on the task at hand, and then after the period has finished you would take a short break. As you are forced to break tasks down into small chunks, the pomodoro technique is good for people that face an overwhelming to-do list and don't know where to start. The technique also promotes regular breaks as a way of resetting your mind between tasks.
A sure fire way to break your flow state is to get interrupted. When working on a task that has a long ramp up time, a constant barrage of interruptions can be the kiss of death to achieving what you set out to do. Interrupt Coalescing is where you block out interruptions so that you can concentrate on completing tasks without distraction. It is the intentional process of ignoring distractions, or making yourself unavailable to interruption in order to concentrate on the task at hand.
Kanban is a task management method that originated from the lean manufacturing movement. It was first developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota in Japan. Kanban is a way to visualise the current workload using cards that move between stages of the production line. Whilst Kanban originated in lean manufacturing, it has made the leap to the mainstream as a simple and flexible way to manage projects.
One of the most difficult things in deciding what to work on next is getting the balance right between priority and dependencies. Usually tasks don't exist in isolation, every task on your task list will have different priorities and certain tasks will need to be completed before other tasks can be started. Understanding how to choose the right thing to work on next with these two things in mind is incredibly difficult.
The afternoon slump is a period in the early afternoon where a lot of people experience a drop in energy, motivation, and focus. Occurring usually just after your lunch break, the afternoon slump can be a killer for your productivity. However, it's possible to avoid the afternoon slump and maintain a high level of productive output during the working day. Once you understand your mind and body's natural ultradian rhythm, you can better manage the precious resource of your energy.
There are many different ways to sort and prioritise your to-do list. For example, you might want to prioritise your tasks by the earliest due date so that you work on tasks that are due first. Or perhaps you want to prioritise by the eisenhower matrix to ensure you are working on your most important tasks first. However, if you're feeling overwhelmed by a burgeoning to-do list, sometimes you just want to get as much stuff done as quickly as possible. This is known as the "shortest processing time" method because you are prioritising tasks by how quickly they can be completed.
Getting Things Done (also known as GTD) is one of the most popular productivity methods for organising and processing the tasks you need to complete. It's a particularly effective method if you're feeling overwhelmed with everything you need to remember and do. One of the core philosophies of the Getting Things Done method is to get the things you need to do out of your head and into a system to be organised and processed. The human brain is better for processing information, rather than storing it. Getting everything you need to remember out of your head also significantly reduces anxiety because you no longer have to be worried about remembering everything.
A common situation I'm sure we've all faced is when we have a deadline, but we procrastinate and delay working on the task until the very last minute. Panic ensues and it's a crazy mad dash to the finish line in order to deliver the work on time. This phenomenon is known as student syndrome and it's a common problem that affects nearly everyone, not just students! In this article we're going to be looking into the problem of student syndrome, and the one clever trick you need to beat it once and for all.
There are many things to consider when evaluating what task you should work on next. It's not always as simple as sorting your tasks by due date and then picking the first off the top of the list. The importance of each of your tasks should be evaluated carefully, as this is likely going to have an outsize impact on how productive you are.
It's easy to convince yourself that in order to get more done you need to work longer hours. But forcing yourself to do work past your body's capacity can actually cause you to be less productive. Working more intensely for shorter periods of time with extended periods of rest and recovery is actually a better strategy.
It doesn't matter who you are, every person on planet Earth only has 24 hours in a day. It's impossible to make more time, and so in order to maximise your productivity potential, you need to make the most of your time. Using time as a fixed constraint turns out to be a really great thing. When time is a fixed resource, it means you need to be smarter with how you spend it.
Our minds and bodies have evolved over millions of years. We are who we are because of the lived experiences of our ancestors. Everything that we know is a delicate balance. If we work with this harmony, instead of against it, we can achieve great things.
Moore-Hodgson's algorithm is an approach to scheduling work that aims to minimise the number of tasks that are late, rather than the lateness of any particular task. The algorithm was presented in 1968 by J. M. Moore, with an alternative algorithim attributed to T. E. Hodgson.
A common misconception is, working on the same types of tasks will have the same type of outcomes. Your current energy level has a disproportionate impact on the outcome of any task you take on, yet we so often neglect to be mindful of choosing what to work on next. This can mean attempting to complete a task that does not match your current energy level could require more effort and will take longer to complete than if you chose to tackle it at a different time.
Choosing the right productivity method is all about selecting a strategy that optimises for your specific goals and objectives. If you choose a method that optimises for something you don't care about you are guaranteed to not get the result you were looking for. The "earliest due date" method optimises for reducing the lateness of the most late task at the expense of very other task that could also end up being slightly late.
You only have a certain amount of hours in the day to get stuff done. Everyone feels the pressure to be productive. However, forcing yourself to work on tasks that don't match your energy is a recipe for disaster. This can lead to a downward spiral that eventually results in burnout.
The "last in, first out" productivity method is a simple system for choosing the next thing to work on by what was added to the queue last. It's a straightforward, and predictable method for organising your tasks that originates from the world of lean manufacturing. In this post we're going to be looking at the "last in, first out" method, its benefits, drawbacks, and when you might want to use it to organise your tasks.
We are inundated with information from the moment we wake up, to the moment we go to sleep. We are constantly making decisions, but over the course of a day, your ability to make decisions significantly decreases. Your capacity to make decisions is a finite resource that is drained as your energy is depleted. This phenomenon is known as decision fatigue.
Having a methodology for completing tasks doesn't need to be complicated. The most important thing is that the method achieves your desired goal. Using a productivity methodology can simplify the process of getting stuff done because it can reduce the decision fatigue inherent in picking what to do work on next.
Choosing the right thing to work on is a very difficult problem. Evaluating the nuance of every task you've got on your to-do list is cognitively exhausting. The problem is compounded when we are instinctively drawn to tasks with certain characteristic profiles, even if completing those tasks will not be beneficial to our longer term goals. This distinction can be seen in the choice between urgent and important tasks.
When you're looking for a solution to your productivity problems, it can be tempting to jump on the latest trendy method. If you hear of a method that works for other people, why wouldn't it also work for you? However, many people bounce from method to method, never really finding something that works. All productivity methods advertise themselves as the one true way to solve your productivity predicament. However, no single productivity method is a one size fits all solution. Every productivity method optimises for a specific goal, and so the reason why your productivity method failed is not because the method is bad, it's because it's achieving the wrong goal.
"One of the most popular ways people manage the things they need to do is via a calendar. A common expression you might have heard is, "if it's not on the calendar, it doesn't get done". In certain situations, a calendar can be the perfect way to manage your tasks. If everything you need to do revolves around events pre-scheduled for fixed points in time, a calendar is the perfect tool for the job. But for most people, using a calendar as a to-do list is a terrible solution. If you are currently managing your tasks via a calendar, but you're feeling overwhelmed and not making progress, you might be using the wrong tool for the job.
Productivity is one of those problems that has always remained unsolved. The reason why it's always been an elusive problem is because the very concept of productivity is such a big, fuzzy concept. The atomic unit of productivity is a task, but tasks are a vague concept that are defined by any number of external factors. Tasks are also often not static, but in fact evolve over time or due to the stimulus from a whole host of different inputs.
Choosing the right thing to work on next is more complicated than simply picking the first thing off the top of your task list. This is particularly important for freelancers, where you have a wide variety of tasks from working on creative problem solving tasks, routine admin tasks, or client calls and presentations. Selecting the right task to work on in any given situation depends on a number of complicated factors, including the specific context you find yourself in. But it's incredibly difficult when your tasks are so completely different from each other.
It's common wisdom that you shouldn't try and hold all of the things you need to do in your head at once. Productivity experts have been preaching this mantra since the dawn of productivity experts. Getting your tasks down onto paper, or in an app is a really good way of creating some space to think. When you don't have to rely on remembering everything, you can concentrate your brain cycles on thinking through those tricky problems.
Choosing the right thing to work on next is a very important aspect of working productively. However, most people leave it up to chance by either deciding what to do work on next by whatever is at the top of their task list at the time, or by having a quick scan of their tasks and settling on the first thing that jumps out at them.
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