Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
Productivity articles often focus on what you need to start doing in order to be more productive. While that is well and good, I think there is room for things to stop doing.
Here is my list of things I won’t do because they adversely affect my productivity – my productivity won’t list:
10. Say “Yes” Automatically
For a long time, I would agree to do things when people asked. Be on another committee? Sure! Bake for every school event? Sign me up! Design a website for a non-profit? Let’s get started!
The problem was that with all those things going on, I no longer had time for me, my family, or projects that I wanted to do.
I won’t say yes automatically anymore, even to things that seem like they would take little time. My automatic response is, “let me get back to you.” The end result is that I have plenty of time to do my things, and spend with my family.
9. Overload My Task List
I love my task list. It keeps me focused, gives me a place to dump my brain, and lets me see all that I have accomplished.
The problem is when I load tasks onto my task list and it grows big, I look at its size and avoid doing anything at all.
I won’t put things blindly on my task list anymore, without considering what might have to come off the list. I now have a task list that is do-able. This allows me to do everything on the list, and the I can choose what else to do…or nothing, if that is what I feel like.
8. Scribble Notes on Bits of Paper
Sticky notes are so handy…you write something on a bit of paper and then stick it somewhere for later. Of course, if you get in the habit, you can use receipts, magazine covers, or any other bit of paper.
This habit doesn’t seem like it would be all that bad…after all, you are writing things down. The problem comes in when those bits of paper end up getting lost. I can’t tell you how many times I have lost a phone number or an event date.
I won’t write on bits of paper that can get lost anymore. Even when I am on the go, I always have my phone, and I can quickly draw a note with my finger. Between the app and my regular notebook, my notes are in two places and get processed regularly with no pieces missing. The end result is that I put things where they belong.
7. Trust My Memory
For many years, I tried to keep things in my head. I could remember my schedule, phone numbers, passwords and addresses with no problem. It isn’t that my memory has gotten that much worse…but life now is much different than life 10 years ago. Thee is more information to remember, and my life is much more complex than it used to be.
The problem with relying on my memory is that there is so much to remember, I inevitably forget things.
I won’t trust my memory. I put appointments in my calendar, phone numbers and addresses on my phone, and passwords in my password keeper. Websites that I need to remember are bookmarked. And all the information is automatically synced to where I need it to be. The end result is that I don’t forget appointments, and I don’t have to stop and search for phone numbers when I need them.
6. Short Myself on Sleep
If I do not get enough sleep, everything slows down. My thinking becomes foggy, and I don’t feel well.
The problem is that this leads to other problems. I can’t concentrate as well, so I end up getting sidetracked more easily. If I don’t feel well, I have a tendency to eat poorly and drink too much caffeine, which then sets off a whole other spiral. I have foggy thinking so tasks either take longer or need to be re-done later because I missed things.
I won’t short myself on sleep. By making sure I have enough sleep, I find it easier to eat better, and both of these allow me to get things done with focused clarity.
5. Put Things Aside to Process Later
This is a new won’t for me, but I realized it was causing problems. I would take things, like mail or email, and put it aside to process later. Or I would put it in my husband’s mailbox so he could deal with it on the weekend.
The problem was that I wouldn’t get to them in a timely fashion, if at all. And one weekend where my husband didn’t come home led to almost-missed health care premium.
I won’t put things aside. If I can deal with them right then, I will. If not, I put a reminder in my task system to remind myself to deal with them that day.
4. Fly Without a Plan
I find that I if am driving without a clear idea of where I am going, I drive in circles. Big circles, but still circles. Same with my days. If I attempt to get through a day without a plan means I will get nowhere.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for regular breaks. The problem is that not having a plan I leave important things undone.
By flying with a plan, I make sure that I cover the important stuff. It also means that when I decide to do something, I know it is in line with my current goals. And if I choose not to do anything, it is not because I am defaulting.
3. Waste Time on BABW…
…or Facebook…or Candy Crush…or The Tudors…or reading trashy novels…or surfing the web aimlessly.
Intervals of entertainment are good. When those intervals crowd out everything else, that is a problem.
I no longer give over large amounts of time to time wasters. I use web blockers to control my web-based time. I keep time-sucking games off my iPhone and iPad. And I limit the time that I can read trashy novels to Sunday afternoons.
2. Fiddle With The System
One of the dangers of being into productivity is the proclivity to try new things all the time. A new task list? Let’s give it a try. A new mail setup? Let’s go to it. A new way to manage projects? Let’s do it! A new phone/tablet/app? Buy it!
The problem with this is that I end up with shiny new toys that may not meet my needs…at best. At worst, they may actually keep me from getting things done because I spend more time keeping up the system than doing things.
I won’t fiddle with my system. If I notice a problem or sticking point, I will think through the processes first, and the tools second. Most times I can streamline processes and get going on things, without having to maintain clunky tools.
In spite of years of vigilance, I still multitask on a fairly regularly basis. I am actually writing this article under the table as I sit in a company dinner meeting.
The problem with active multitasking is that we cannot do two things at once actively. Humans are not wired that way. The best we can do is time slice and switch back and forth between the tasks. That leads to reduced focus as we switch to the second task, and lost time as we continually switch back and forth.
I won’t multitask. If my attention is being pulled in a second direction, I make the decision about what I will pay attention to.
By deciding what I won’t do, I automatically move to a more productive place. What is on your productivity won’t list? Share below with a comment.
Photo by sboneham. Licensed under Creative Commons.