Recently I finished a great book by Chris Bailey: “The Productivity Project”.
The most valuable lessons Chris learnt during his one year of productivity experiments, are in this book.
He talks about a LOT of aspects that affect our productivity and gives solutions and tips on how we can be much more productive than we are now.
The best thing is that Chris tested those experiments himself, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about.
In this book, time management isn’t the best way to mange your productivity. You should track how productive you are according to the tasks you accomplish during the day. We all have 24 hours per day, what makes us different is the tasks we accomplish during that period.
I already knew some of the principles referred in this book and I apply some of them in my life. But I also learnt a lot of new tips and insights that I’m going to try in the future.
#1 Manage Time, Attention and Energy
This is the subtitle of the book, and it is one valuable lesson you should consider when you want to improve your productivity.
Unfortunately, we focus way too much in the time we have. The only thing we want is to work the maximum amount of time. But that’s not the path to become more productive.
Actually, productivity is a combination of time, attention and energy. And they should be considered as equal.
If you think about it, even if you have 10 hours per day to finish something, but your energy is very low, are you really going to be productive? What if you’re doing some work but you can’t focus on that specific task?
Sometimes time is not the problem, energy and attention are!
And this leads to one experiment Chris did, that I found really interesting.
Basically, he worked 90 hours in one week, and in another week he only worked 20 hours. The results?
He accomplished just a bit more in his 90 hours week, compared to when he only worked 20 hours.
The conclusion? Working more isn’t always better!
#2 Fake Deadline
It’s complicated to satisfy our brain, but if we make an effort to understand it, we can improve our lives a lot more!
When you have a deadline to deliver something, your brain will force you to finish that task before the deadline ends, right? But what if you don’t have a deadline? You will procrastinate a lot more!
That’s why Chris suggested something really interesting that I’m going to apply in all the tasks I want to accomplish.
And it is giving yourself a fake deadline.
For example, if you have to finish writing a blog post for your own blog, you should create a deadline to finish that blog post in less than 2 hours or before 2 p.m.
This way you procrastinate less, because it is more easy for you to start something when you know you need to finish it in a specific time. And you will also finish that task earlier!
As the Parkinson’s law says: Work will expand to fill the time it is given.
#3 Procrastination Triggers
There are certain tasks that we procrastinate more. Those can be paying and dealing with taxes, house cleaning, finishing an assignment, etc. But why exactly do we procrastinate in those tasks?
In the Productivity Project, Chris enumerates the 7 procrastination triggers:
-Lacking Personal Meaning
-Lacking Intrinsic Rewards
So if for you, a specific task is boring, there’s a higher chance you’re going to procrastinate on doing it. But he also has a solution for this problem, and is very logical.
For example, if a specific task is boring, try to combine it with something you enjoy doing. Or if it is difficult, consider breaking that task in small actions to make it easier to accomplish.
The key is to analyse which task your brain procrastinates more, and to be creative finding ways to make it much more enjoyable.
#4 Maintenance Days
Cleaning the house, or doing grocery shopping, isn’t always something we’re willing to do.
Chris suggests that during the week, we should write everything that we remember that needs to be done (buying butter, washing the car, cleaning the bathrooms). We should keep track of all these tasks during the week. And then, you decide in which day you are going to do all of them.
You can also group some tasks to save you time. And to make those tasks more enjoyable, listen to an audiobook, podcast or music!
I do this on Saturday morning, and it is actually something I enjoy doing.
#5 Find the time you’re the most productive!
We are different, and so we have different periods throughout the day when we feel more energised.
You should find the time where your energy is higher, and do more creative or difficult tasks in those periods.
To find this, simply track your energy levels (hourly) over a day. And then analyse the peaks of your energy.
If you have a more flexible schedule, fill your “biological prime time” with tasks that are more important and require more focus.
Other things I found interesting in the book:
-According to research, the average employee check their email once every 15 minutes
-Gloria Mark, attention researcher, says it takes us 25 minutes to return to our initial task once we get distracted!
-David Allen, recommends you to create a “Waiting List”, with tasks that fill your mind but there isn’t nothing you can do about them. For example: Waiting for a package, money someone’s going to pay you next week, etc.
Those are only a few of the great insights and ideas you can find inside this book! So I highly recommend you to read it!