For the past couple weeks I’ve been tied up with projects apart from my main site here. You may have noticed it was quiet for a bit.
There was also the little snafu with my brother to tend to; family is important.
But before this busy spell, I used a neat trick to be more productive when it came to sitting down to work at the ‘puter.
The trick helps limit my distractions, ensures I get more done, and it frames my task schedule into manageable and predictable blocks of time.
I enjoy it because of the challenge.
You’ll enjoy it because it’s:
- Simple to implement
- Free to try
- Actionable immediately after reading this article
How to be more productive
Establish a time of your day to implement this strategy. It’ll only take 15 minutes of your time (or more if you have multiple tasks) and you may even like the challenge of it.
Here’s a word of caution: It’s your mindset that is the biggest obstacle with this strategy. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.
It’s nothing more than a full screen timer. It offers a stop watch option (count up) or a count down function.
My suggestion is to click on the Count Down arrow and then you’ll be prompted to enter the amount of time you wish to set.
When the timer reaches zero, the system sounds a buzzer and flashes red on the screen so you know your time is up.
- Keep your speakers on
- Keep the timer open in a new tab or window
Easy as pie.
Why time yourself?
I’m not going to cite psychological studies or research on the effectiveness of working against the clock. This recommendation is based solely on my real world experience; the positive experience I’ve had over the past several months using this method.
When I set the timer to count down from 15-minutes I get right to work. Now, when I first started doing this it was tough. I had to reset the clock and give myself a couple extra minutes to complete tasks. So it’s okay if you strike out your first time at the plate.
Just stick with it and you’ll condition your mind to spring into action in timed bursts.
Do you think 15-minutes isn’t enough time to complete a task? Fine. Do what works best for you but don’t give yourself 30-minutes so you can squeeze in lolcat or casual email checking. This is for work only.
The 15-minute mark kept me from becoming restless. For some, if we set a 45-minute period of time to work straight through, we are tempted to open an email window or Facebook tab or some other attention-devouring screen.
What happened for me was conditioning. My mind learned to fire off ideas quickly when I started the count down and I got a kick out of occasionally finishing a bit early. After trying this for a couple weeks I found joy in completing my tasks in 15-minute windows.
Bottom line: timing got the job done and I enjoyed doing the work. Win-win.
Productive tasks to complete
Here is a list of 10 things you can try to accomplish in the 15-minute time slot (then practice, practice, practice):
- Write a 500 word article
- Add 10 friends to your Facebook profile and introduce yourself
- Prepare content in 9 minutes for: two 3-minute screen capture videos that each focus on answering one question from your market (use slides or speak facing the camera)
- Answer comments left on your articles
- Comment on 3-5 website articles
- Share other people’s content on Twitter
- Reach out to people on Twitter who are having problems that you can solve
- Answer emails (important/urgent ones only)
- Jot down 10 ideas for future article topics
- Open a PayPal account
You get the idea, there’s a lot you can complete in 15-minutes.
Most of us say we’ll do “this or that” next weekend and then what happens? The work expands to fill all the time we allow. We push out our deadlines and the projects become drawn out.
The trick is to stop allowing each task to take so much time. Just say no.
And stop putting off the real work by doing busy work. Let’s keep control over our time; are you with me?