Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
The longer I investigate personal productivity, the more I am convinced that it’s not just about an overarching system, but rather about a whole toolbox of methods that we need to understand so we can take advantage of them.
I have reached this conclusion because I notice that under differing circumstances, different techniques help me make the most progress and stay on track.
I stumbled across another tool for the toolbox recently, and I wanted to share it.
This whole thing came about as I was listening to the Get It Done Guy’s podcast on the way to work. I started paying close attention to From Schedule Overload to Clarity because Stever started talking about minions.
I am sure that he doesn’t mean the adorable yellow minions from Despicable Me. But that is what caught my ear.
I have a confession to make: I really, really, really want a minion. Not a stuffed one, but one that is able to do my bidding.
Why? Because most of the time I am overwhelmed.
The Irony of Overwhelm
And here’s the thing…when I look at my task lists, there isn’t much on there. My Finish It Week blasted through most of the stuff. I have less than 6 major projects on my plate, and the task list, even with repeating maintenance tasks, is relatively small, usually 6 or less items per day.
And yet I look at it and think, “I can’t do this! It’s too much!”
Hence the desire for the minion.
The New Tool
So Stever really caught my attention with the talk of minions. But then he went on to share a technique that he learned from Jack Canfield, who learned it somewhere else. So I learned it from Stever, and I’m passing it on.
The trick is to classify your tasks into one of three areas: Admin, Focus and Spirit.
Admin tasks are those things, that as Stever so eloquently says, “are activities that really don’t move things forward, but you need to do them to keep things running smoothly.” Things like laundry, and dishes, and brushing your teeth and cleaning the cat box. Things that need to be done, but yet don’t move anything forward.
Focus tasks are the things that support your goals and projects to move them forward. These are the things like writing the words for the great American novel you have been working on; reading books for work projects; doing activities that support your business or volunteer commitments.
Spirit tasks are the thing we call “living.” As Stever says, “When you’re doing spirit activities, they’re things you enjoy for the sheer love of it! You aren’t being productive; you aren’t being efficient. You’re living! Spirit activities are the whole point of all the rest.”
So when you group the tasks together in these three categories, your lists become all like-minded tasks, and you can power through them.
Scheduling the Days
Stever recommends then scheduling days when you deal with the specific type of tasks. On admin days, deal with admin tasks. On focus days, focus on your projects. On spirit days, leave the other two behind.
Desperation Leads To Growth
I was so tired of procrastinating, and desperate to knock through the tasks. So yesterday I split my extraordinarily long list into the three types. Surprisingly, there were only two tasks on the spirit list…but that makes sense to me, as these are things that don’t have to be done, and rarely sit on my lists, nagging at me. (and of course, then never get done)
Then I set an hour for the admin tasks. I powered through the 13 tasks on the list in 23 minutes.
Next I set the timer for an hour on the project tasks (which included a backlog of blogging). I got through 8 tasks in 45 minutes.
I had time to sit down and work on some ongoing projects: transferring bookmarks from Pinboard into Evernote, and sorting through my ebooks so I can start reading them.
I have never, ever, had such success on a Sunday night, which is when most of my weekly tasks hit.
I am still in shock about how well this technique busted through my procrastination.
Of course, I have to make this my own.
I first changed the terms of the grouping: admin I kept. But I changed “focus” to “project” because that is how I see my work. And I changed “spirit” to “living” because it seemed more descriptive.
The other thing I decided is that I wouldn’t do a whole day of a specific type. My life doesn’t lend itself to that. Even on days when I am not working on projects, I still have to do things like water the garden, weed and put out the trash for pickup. I have found it works really well to decide how long I will work, then set a timer and work on the specific area.
So there’s the latest tool in the toolbox. Do you think it would work for you? What’s your favorite productivity tool? Leave a comment below.
Photo by foilman. Licensed under Creative Commons.