Admit it! Despite your best intentions, you were nowhere near as productive yesterday as you intended (or as you could have been). Today is probably going the same way. You were distracted multiple times and you didn’t get your stuff done.
I am going to let you into a few secrets of maximum productivity that I have learned from the masters.
I call it the 90-1 method. Ninety signifies one and a half hours (90 minutes) of focussed attention with no distractions and One refers to your number one most important priority (think about what one task will move you the furthest towards achieving one of your Big Hairy Audacious Goals).
- Identify your #1 priority from your task list. The best time to do this is at the end of the day, so your subconscious mind can start working on it as you relax and sleep overnight. The second best time to do this is first thing in the morning, before you open your emails.
- Turn off all notifications for new emails. You know how it is when your iPhone chirps — you just have to see who sent you that mail and you lose focus on what you were doing! Learn to review your messages on your own schedule, not someone else’s! Go to settings on your phone and turn off sounds and vibrations for new mail messages. Do the same in Outlook on your PC.
- Schedule a 90 minute focus session where you are going to work on #1. I call this session a “jam session”. For most people, 90 minutes is the limit of how long we can concentrate effectively. Block out some time in your calendar. Start out with a single jam session per day and later, see how many you can fit in, depending on the nature of your work. For me, the best time is first thing in the morning, after my workout, walking the dog and eating my breakfast and before I can be derailed by other things.
- Tell your colleagues what you are doing and shut you door or go somewhere quiet where you can avoid being disturbed.
- Get yourself a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea
- Pull out everything you need to work on priority #1 (papers, files, etc).
- Turn your phone off (set it to do not disturb or silent or airplane mode) so you are not distracted by instant messages, texts or even phone calls. Do the same with any applications on your PC.
- Set a timer (such as on your phone) for 45 minutes.
- Now, get to work and jam! Resist all temptation to attend to anything else. Ignore your emails, texts, Facebook notifications and everything else!
- When the timer goes, get out of your chair, stretch and fill up your water.
- Set the timer for another 45 minutes and complete your jam.
At the end of your jam session, get up and take a well earned 10-20 minute break to recover. You will be amazed at what you have achieved. Go and reward yourself with a (healthy) snack or a quick walk in the fresh air outside.
Make this a habit. You know your body clock best and what time period you have maximum attention and alertness. Always work on your highest priority first, then move to second, third and fourth priorities.
Let me know how you get on.