Developing sound work habits is something that everyone can do, regardless of age or what sort of work it happens to be that you’re doing. I’ve been looking at this a lot lately, and in my current line of work (i.e. being selfishly-employed) it’s been a bit of a preoccupation.
First, let me recommend a book. It may be the last book you’ll ever need to read on working efficiently (or doing anything efficiently, for that matter.) This from someone who’s read a lot on personal efficiency and work habits. (Yes, I was a Getting Things Done fan for awhile. Hint: I didn’t get much done!)
The book is called Pomodoro Technique Illustrated by Staffan Noteberg. This link will take you to the full paperback version. Hint: Do not buy the Kindler version! There is enough in this book, that you will want to study the illustrations and really mark up the book!
Just three tips and tricks I found in this book:
- Before the To Do Today list came the Activity Inventory. Having an inventory of to-dos to work from, and to select your daily from. (Excuse the dangling participle.)
- Buy a timer. The essence of the Pomodoro techniques of planning is to devide your day’s activities into “time chunks” called Pomodoros. Each chunk or Pomodoro is 25 minutes, with a 5 minute break immediately afterwards. No cheating! Every activity to “schedule” for the day, MUST be measured out in Pomodoros. No cheating on your breaks either! Each break needs to be that. A complete break from activity. Noteberg recommends taking a 5 minute nap! (I haven’t quite figured how to pull that off.)
- Keep good records. Make notes of how you’re doing on a daily basis. More frequently than that, according to Noteberg. Get into the habit of noting when you’ve had a distraction from your 25 minute Pomodoro task. And do an assessment at the end of the day–how many Pomodoros you completed, how many distractions.
One more tip. I’m generously putting this in the Advance Pomodoro category:
If you are distracted to point where you can’t complete a Pomodoro (i.e. something so earthshaking happens at the 15 minute mark that you just can’t complete the task), there is no such thing as a partially Pomodoro! You have to start all over again with where you left off, with a brand new 25 minute Pomodoro!
Hope some of you give this a try. It’s way more fun than just trying to slog it out with a To Do list–or a “Honey Do” list as my wife Jan calls it!