An idea shared is not an idea diminished.
It's an idea multiplied.
Last year, I took a few new buzzy, hashtag-y productivity theories for a test drive to see if they made a difference in my work day. Now that it's 2016, here's what I'm keeping and what I'm booting.
The Pomodoro Technique
This technique takes advantage of what we know to be true about most of us. We can focus really well for short bursts of time. Turn off your major distractions; put your phone on airplane mode, disable email previews, and shut off IM or social chatting on your screen. Set a timer for 20 minutes and focus on a task. When time is up, take a few minutes to check in on email, grab a cup of coffee or some fresh air. Then repeat. You’ve completed one Pomodoro.
It’s suggested that you start out each day with a goal number of Pomodoros to complete; I started with three. My typical project relies on answers from teammates, clients, and a lot of back and forth so it’s a rare Pomodoro that completes something fully. But the progress it makes is impressive.
I can easily complete three Pomodoros each day. On a good day I may even double it. While this method is not a religion for my work day just yet, the theory is useful and easily used every day. Keeping it.
Early last year, #tablessthursday trended on Twitter from folks who wanted to turn modern civilization on its head: they claimed that single-tasking will soon be the new multi-tasking. The challenge is to only work with one tab open at a time on Thursdays. Take a “vacation from distraction.”
I’m an egregious abuser of open tabs. I still have the Get 30 Hours Free on AOL tab open from 1997. Hey, it’s a reminder. If you’re shaking at the thought of closing all the open tabs in your browser right this minute, don’t worry. Depending on your line of work, it may be nearly impossible. I found it to be possible for almost the first full minute of the day. Even if you’re focused on one very linear task, the internet is no longer a linear workspace. It branches off almost immediately, that’s what makes it so powerful, and that’s what makes our work using internet resources reliable. What if the only tab I kept open all day was Wikipedia?
Going Tabless may resemble cleaning out a closet--cathartic and peaceful, except you are throwing away everything but the hangers in one minute all at once. Now you have nothing to wear to work, literally. Nope.
Google Calendar Meetings as Tasks
Millions already do this successfully, but I’d never tried. My day can be meeting heavy to the point that the time in between is spent treading water and not accomplishing much. Adding in blocks of time for productive work time, with specific topics and goals in the event created meant I could be empowered to decline meetings that conflict. Actually declining is harder; if my meeting is with me, she can darn well wait or reschedule.
Google Calendars is such a good tool that even superusers may not know about these simple tricks from PCWorld Magazine.
My middle ground is to only create a meeting with myself if it is either deadline driven or a particularly meeting heavy week. I’ll thank me for it later. Keep.
A clear rejection is always better than a fake promise. Inbox zero is not happening so let’s just all take it off the table, shall we?
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