Posted by: bevmeldrum | February 15, 2008

Fridays Are Different – Faster, Better, Easier

photo by Andrew Johnson

image by Andrew Johnson

I came across a great post on LifeHack this week – 50 Tricks to Get Things Done Faster, Better, and More Easily

My favourites are:

  1. Most Important Tasks (MITs): At the start of each day (or the night before) highlight the three or four most important things you have to do in the coming day. Do them first. If you get nothing else accomplished aside from your MITs, you’ve still had a pretty productive day.
  2. Inbox Zero: Decide what to do with every email you get, the moment you read it. If there’s something you need to do, either do it or add it to your todo list and delete or file the email. If it’s something you need for reference, file it. Empty your email inbox every day.
  3. One In, One Out: Avoid clutter by adopting a replacement-only standard. Every time you but something new, you throw out or donate something old. For example, you buy a new shirt, you get rid of an old one. (Variation: One in, Two Out — useful when you begin to feel overwhelmed by your possessions.)
  4. Ubiquitous Capture: Always carry something to take notes with — a pen and paper, a PDA, a stack of index cards. Capture every thought that comes into your mind, whether it’s an idea for a project you’d like to do, an appointment you need to make, something you need to pick up next time you’re at the store, whatever. Review it regularly and transfer everything to where it belongs: a todo list, a filing system, a journal, etc.
  5. Eat the Frog: Do your most unpleasant task first. Based on the saying that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a frog, the day can only get better from then on.
  6. What’s the Next Action?: Don’t plan out everything you need to do to finish a project, just focus on the very next thing you need to do to move it forward. Usually doing the next, little thing will lead to another, and another, until we’re either done or we run into a block: we need more information, we need someone else to catch up, etc. Be as concrete and discrete as possible: you can’t “install cable”, all you can do is “call the cable company to request cable installation”.
  7. Review: Schedule a time with yourself every week to look over what you’ve done that week and what you want to do the next week. Ask yourself if there are any new projects you should be starting, and if what you’re working on is moving you closer to your goals for your life.
  8. Structured Procrastination: A strategy of recognizing and using one’s procrastinating tendencies to get stuff done. Items at the top of top of the list are avoided by doing seemingly less difficult and less important tasks further down the list — making the procrastinator highly productive. The trick is to make sure the items at the top are apparently urgent — with pressing deadlines and apparently large consequences. But, of course, they aren’t really all that urgent. Structured procrastination requires a masterful skill at self-deception, which fortunately bigtime procrastinators excel at.
  9. Tune Out: Create a personal privacy zone by wearing headphones. People are much more hesitant to interrupt someone wearing headphones. Note: actually listening to music through your headphones is optional — nobody knows but you.
  10. Unclutter: Clutter is anything that’s out of place and in the way. IT’s not necessarily neatness — someone can have a rigorously neat workspace and not be able to get anything done. It’s being able to access what you need, when you need it, without breaking the flow of your work to find it. Figure out what is “clutter” in your working and living spaces, and fix that.
  11. Unschedule: Schedule all your fun activities and personal life stuff (the stuff you want to do) first. Fill in whatever time’s left over with uninterrupted blocks of work. Write those into your schedule after you’ve completed them. Reward yourself after every block of quality, focused work.
  12. Timer: Tell yourself you will work on a project or task, and only that project or task, for a set amount of time. Set a timer (use a kitchen timer, or use a countdown timer on your computer), and plug away at your work. When the timer goes off, you’re done — move on to the next project or task.
  13. Make an Appointment with Yourself: Schedule time every week or so just for you. Consider the state of your life: what’s working? What isn’t working? what mistakes are you making? what could you change? Give yourself a chance to get to know you.

It’s all good stuff – we could do a post on each one of these 50 ideas.

Have a look at the list – pick one and give it a go. I’d love to hear from you about what a difference it makes to your day.

You can read the entire list here – 50 Tricks to Get Things Done Faster, Better, and More Easily

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Responses

  1. That’s a great list – I’d be tempted to add “never read a list longer than 10 items” though!

    I’ll try making an appointment with myself – it’s probably the hardest one to stick to…


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