This is Week 23 of a Year of Living Productively
This week I tested whether attempting to get a week’s worth of work done by Thursday (what I called Beat the Week) would help me get more done. 99u calls it “reward efficiency.” The motivation was to have time at the end of the week to do what I wished.
How Beat the Week Saved My Sanity This Week
- The weekly planning focused my efforts. A number of productivity hacks I’ve tested have made me a believer in reviewing the week ahead. It helps me feel on top of things.
- Helped me keep my expectations realistic. As I considered what I could really do in a week (a short week no less), I was reminded of how important this is for me to learn. I always think I can squeeze a year’s worth of activities into a week.
How Beat the Week Made Me Crazy This Week
- Hard to maintain a closed list. I didn’t add new tasks to the week’s list, but they appeared and had to be done anyway. Even though I made progress, I didn’t feel like I was because of the other work I had to do.
- I had a singular focus this week. I have an international house guest arriving this week and I found myself ignoring my list in favor of getting ready for his arrival. The list actually annoyed me like a distraction.
- I felt like I was cheating. Because I didn’t do a good job of keeping my list manageable (especially in light of pressing commitments), I found myself postponing tasks I had included on the list. I didn’t feel I deserved the reward of time off since I hadn’t actually completed those tasks and quite frankly I gave up. I completed the most important tasks on time, but this felt due to the impending arrival of our guest more than anything.
Did Beat the Week Help Me Get Things Done?
Not really. I did work hard this week to get things done by Thursday, but not because I wanted time off. I really won’t get time off as I have an out-of-town trip and two big parties to get ready for. It wasn’t the best week to test this approach. I also think this approach could be useful in helping me be realistic about what I can get done. However, scheduling a la SmartPad already works for me in this regard.
Now that I keep Sundays as a completely free day, I find I am very motivated to get my work done by Saturday at the latest. In a sense, Beat the Week is working very well for me now.
The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 24
This week I’ll be testing a Productivity Ritual. Simple Productivity Blog offers three aspects to a ritual that can help us get more done: clearing the mind, gathering the materials, and resetting/shifting. For me, this is different than the morning ritual because it is done prior to each work period.
The concept. Clearing the mind helps to maintain focus on the task at hand as does some kind of a resetting ritual. Because I change activities several times throughout the day, I can benefit from this. I am going to pray before I begin a new activity period to satisfy both of these components. Not only will I be forced to focus on the anticipated work, but I should have a better attitude about the work.
The final aspect of a productivity ritual that I’m really excited about is gathering materials. Here’s why I’m so eager. I am one of the children’s worship leaders at my church and until recently I had begun to dread my week to serve. Pulling craft and music materials out of the cabinet was risky because it was stuffed and disorganized and nothing had been prepared in advance. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when a new coordinator took over. Not only were all the supplies organized, but everything was set up and ready for me to use. I enjoyed leading so much in this environment that I told the coordinator I would serve more often.
The takeaway for me is that I am more productive (and happier) when I have what I need ready to go. I do this when I cook, but rarely when I work. For example, I will sit down to write a week’s worth of blog posts for The Inspired Day and realize that my blogging notebook is not on my desk. Rather than run to get it, I skip planning a week’s worth of posts at once, losing time in the process.
If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read Simple Productivity Blog’s post on a productivity ritual. Decide how you will clear your mind and reset between activities and pledge to gather materials before you begin.
Click here to see if a productivity ritual worked for me!
You can now subscribe to productivity posts separate from the rest of Psychowith6 content here.
If you’ve tried Beat the Week to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.
Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:
Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual
Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method
Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List
Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System
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I feel bad that you didn’t understand the true intent of the weekly plan and choosing daily MITs. I left you a response at Mark’s site. I hope it helps. I reproduced it here for your convenience. Please excuse my normal typos and my brain skipping words and such.
If you’re comparing this to my FLEXIBLE weekly plan then I think you might have improved your odd of success with the following suggestions.
1. Because you had visitors and other outside plan, why didn’t you make those your MITs?
Plus, choosing MITs doesn’t mean I can’t change my aims as life dictates or I simply change my mind. My MITs are what are the most important things I want to focus on. That doesn’t mean that I either let the other stuff unnecessarily slide nor does it I treat my MITs with strict rules/expectations attached. It’s simply a focus and reminder tool. When I commit to my daily MITs as WILL DO, I choose what I actually want to do. It sounds to me that you should have chosen your MITs to your actual plans. Maybe you were trying to unnecessarily keep up with recurring bundling. I don’t hold to inbox zero, do everything everyday. It will get done in a timely manner according to it’s relative priority. When I choose my MITs, they are the priority, not some bundling tasks that can safely wait. I know it goes against all the gurus advice, but I haven’t suffered any fallout yet. (Of course, I chip away at the actual important recurring stuff and not let it pile up into a huge mess. LOL)
I feel bad that you set it up without realizing it’s true intention. You create a flexible prediction of what you want to do in the week, only focusing on the actually important activities (to you and your responsibilities/commitments)….NOT what you SHOULD do but can easily wait if doing so would infringe on your actual plans and desires. It’s not intended to make you feel guilty. It’s simply a guide you set up for yourself to make sure that you focus on what’s important to you and make sure that important stuff doesn’t fall through the cracks (work and leisure) That’s the beauty of it. You make the judgement of what you want to do and when to do it. That also suggests what can safely wait without penalty. That includes unnecessary guilt.
Enjoy your visitors and forget the stuff that can wait. Those would be my relief tasks in between the MITs. If the MITs are challenging and/or rewarding, you don’t need the relief tasks.
One of the best features is to plan ahead. That sometimes requires you to also know what tasks can safely wait. This system helps me to keep to my responsibilities and aims but most of all, it’s supposed to help me open up to the good stuff life offers. You can catch up on the less important recurring stuff at a later date. In fact, I only respond to the stuff that truly NEEDS to responded to today and then start my MITs. After they are done, then I can go back to swatting flies. LOL!
Bottom Line: It’s a guide to enhance your satisfactions and opportunities. It would be defeating it’s purpose to unnecessarily curtail any of life’s great pleasures.
I try to limit my day’s MIT’s to 2-4 hours. It doesn’t always workout that way, but that’s my aim. That leaves me plenty of time to either enjoy working on a project I enjoy, stay current on other work that’s not today’s MIT or stop working and enjoy my life because the important stuff is current or done. That’s my biggest carrot.
Learning, would it be accurate to say that you don’t really “task out” your MIT’s? As in, they are projects and you have more of an outcome focus rather than a task oriented focus? If so, that’s incredibly similar to what I would do in a work environment where I don’t really know what the step by step tasks are – because something might change while actually doing it, but I have a general concept of what needs doing or improving and am bent for leather to implement whatever that is in that week (or two, due to month ends, my sort of “free” time (not putting out fires time) ended up coming in 1.5-2.5 week blocks). I could easily spend 4-12 hour days doing nothing but that project and maybe just spending 1/2 hour a day on incidentals like email. Well that and silly meetings… 😛
Generally though, the more down time I had to just mull things over (like shower or camping thinking), the better the project went.
I suspect you have a strong prey drive – like your GSD. 😉 Funny how we pick the dogs that are like us.
It’s good to see you again!
To be frank, I don’t have any true rules that must be adhered to. I like choosing my MITs so that I’m doing what I consider to be worthy work (passions and responsibilities). I totally agree with you in that both problem-solving and creative projects need LOTS of flexibility because they take up a lot of head room even when it’s enjoyable. For me anyway, sometimes I need time to process my progress or my failures before setting up a plan in my head where to go next. Even when it’s grueling or I fail along the way, it’s my favorite work of all. Sometimes I simply enjoy the challenge. Other times, it’s pure reverie!
I’m not at all anal about time management rules but I’m plenty anal about meeting my responsibilities. If they cause a lot of resistance in me, I’ve GOT to plan how to get them done in a timely manner with the least amount of stress. LOL! I suppose it’s a balancing act between being responsible and choosing my own challanges. Sometimes the best part of the day is eating a fine meal and enjoying a bit too much wine with it. LOL!
I’m too much of an amoeba to be ambitious these days. Even when I was most into my career I was mostly competitive with myself. It’s far easier to beat others than to improve myself. I like to go where the challenge is and that’s usually within myself. Plus, I’ve always gotten a huge charge out of practicing hard, learning a lot and then use it when it puts me in a wonderful trance. It’s hard to explain. The experience of living it always felt like a gift given to me even when I worked hard to sharpen my skills and learn as much as I could. It’s crazy but it’s like a unbelievable high with life. It’s insane, but when I’m experiencing that, I feel like a true part of the world. Like it’s allowing me to get a glimpse into it’s majesty or divinity. LOL! I know it’s crazy…I can’t put it into words. Nobody can either deserve it or not deserve it. But When it happens, it truly feels like I’m tiptoeing into the sublime….(I’m probably not but that’s what it feels like.) THAT’S WHY I keep the responsibilities current. I don’t want them to fetter my thoughts. Even not so grand feelings….just vegging out ….letting the warm air envelop me, the insects providing harmony while I watch my dog chase a mosquito! LOL!
Mel says you’re going to be on the road soon…..talk about reverie! I know you’re going to experiencing some heady stuff….don’t hate me because I envy you! LOL!
Have a great trip for all of us vicarious road warriors!
Please excuse the effects of the meds….
p.s. Prey drive? Naaaa… I didn’t give a damn what others do unless they’re either plagiarizing my work or they are my inspiration. I think competition is more inspiration and personal growth than prey drive. Plus, some of my best friendships developed and endured from healthy competition/inspiration, yeah?
Oh, I didn’t mean preying on other people – LOL, I meant steadfast concentration on a goal. 😛 Sort of like how Sparky will mow down any little dogs or anything else in his path when in pursuit of that ball… or rabbit… 😉
(Don’t worry about the bunnies, no matter how motivated he is, he can’t catch a rabbit.)
I wish I was always steadfast (when it isn’t a futile attempt). I think it depends on how important it is to me. It also depends HIGHLY on my disabilities. Sometimes I have no choice but to press my pause button. Other times I have to eat my pride and say “Hell with it” when I’m physically or mentally incapable. (That both infuriates me because I’m disabled and makes me feel resentful of my circumstances. That still beats when it makes me feel dejected and I just have to wait until I feel like it’s worth it to spend my life swimming upstream. Everything is so much harder. Thank God I’ve got a stubborn streak a mile wide plus the experience to know when to quit. (Sometimes I fight against my disabilities and that never ends well! LOL!) The regular me rarely was forced to quit. I think the stubbornness is fueled by determination and natural curiosity. That used to make it feel like a challenge because I was learning. Now it’s less learning and more just trying to maintain a standard of living. BLEH! LOL!
When I can experience passion and flow, it’s a more appreciated gift….but…in the back of my mind I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop (my disabilities stop the reverie. THUD! LOL!)
“bent for leather”…..:-0 :-0 :-0
Jacq, you are the best!
…and you wonder why we love your company so much….
You’re right, learning, that I wasn’t doing MITs. I found out the week before that I had a guest coming so I didn’t have much plan-ahead time. I think an MIT list would have made a huge difference. Thank you!
The proper thanks go to you for creating this great time management series. I can’t even imagine the challenges this presents. I know that I couldn’t pull it off! I tip my hat to you. Great job!
You’re too kind. It’s all just fun to me. Of course, I often get myself into situations where I’m having more fun than I can handle. I’m almost there. LOL
Just wrote a LONG (for me) comment and then my internet shut off and I lost it!!! Oh well – just wanted to tell you I really appreciate your posts. I love hearing what you’re doing and how you’re plugging away over there – makes me feel like I’m not alone trying to get things done.
Got lots done this week with the idea of trying to get ready for vacation from your last post. I was trying to meet a big deadline to get my Donut questions out in book form and almost made it!
the wonderful thing about summer is getting to go swimming at the end of the day! We have a river less than 10 minutes from our house that is really fun to swim and float in, so I went there a couple times this week and the pond once – lots of swimming. A great way to reward myself at the end of the day!
Have fun with your friend this week!
I so appreciate your encouragement, Barb. You’re an inspiration because you’re trying to get things done, too. The swimming sounds like a great break for you! I am really enjoying our guest. Plans have changed as a result, however. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.
I forgot where I first saw this, but I’ve been using this simple and seemingly silly rule (count to 5, and do it) and I’ve found it to be quite effective. To ensure this (always) works, I only use it when I know I have the discipline to follow through on my self-made promise. More here: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/1aa4bt/reddit_what_life_rule_do_you_have_for_yourself/c8vgfe5
Also, I’m on day 16 of Simpleology…
Thanks, Avrum. I do this at times, but often keep counting. 😉 I will be interested to hear what you think of Simpleology when all is said and done.
I’m no longer using Simpleology. Long story short, I purchased the book to accompany the website, and found Joyner’s pseudo-conspiracy theories to be a total turnoff. Coupled with his bizarre move into bio-hacking and supplements (and google searches that only confirmed the sketchiness factor), I’m taking my time (and money) elsewhere.
Alas, you live and you learn.
I was getting that impression, too, coupled with being really frustrated with the unnecessary repetitive training. But there do seem to be some positive aspects to it.
Avrum, that’s a neat trick! The *best* post I’ve ever seen on anti-procrastination or motivation is over at lesswrong – here’s a link:
You’ve shared this post with me before, Jacq, and what I find most powerful about it is thinking about why you’re procrastinating. Introspection works well with so many problems like this. Without it, it’s easy to fall back into the habit of thinking, “Oh there I go again, procrastinating. That’s who I am.” Thanks for linking it here.
What a small world this is. Years ago when Simpleology first came out I ghost-wrote a review. I tried it for two weeks. It was excellent for people who need to learn the operating principles behind time management. Personal and professional goals to direct your life trajectory and meeting personal and professional oblications/responsibilities. They had exercises and a great book with a workbook. It was like taking a class. You read the book and did the exercises. They also had online exercises to match the book (sort of: it wasn’t as detailed as the book and workbook.) Concurrently they taught you the practical skills to implement your actions. The practical side was set up similar to GTD but it was also goal directed. I found it to be excellent training wheels. To truly implement the principles and some of the how-tos the course was doable yet quite in depth. In fact, after I wrote the article, I saved the book and workbook for awhile because some of it needed to be learned in layers (at least for me) After I submitted the article I was glad to have the experience of learning it. The website format was very GTDish. My brain operates differently so I didn’t continue using their methods yet I still embrace some of their principles. Of course, most of the principles are fairly universal yet they did a good job presenting it. You’ll have fun and learn something as well. Good luck!
learning, you could certainly write this series though I know you wouldn’t want to. 🙂 I’m amazed by all the experience you have! I appreciate your encouragement and advice so much. Thanks for writing.
You are too kind. I could never reliably post a series. Because of the nature of my disabilities, I could never meet such recurring deadlines. I’m ashamed to admit it but I had to stop writing because of this. I’m earnest yet unreliable with tight deadlines. UGG! LOL!
You can tell by my awful posts that I’d need a proof editor. LOL!
The only thing I can tell, learning, is that you are a brilliant woman who inspires me as you overcome challenges that would do ordinary women in.
Once again you are far too kind. I can’t overcome my disabilities. I just have to work around them. If you heard the ongoing war going on in my head about this, you wouldn’t think so highly of me. LOL! I’m trying to maintain a quality of life yet I sometimes get so tired. I feel like Prometheus sometimes. LOL! Half of me is tired of the futility and the other half knows that I have to keep pushing that rock back up the mountain even knowing that it will surely keeping falling right back down. LOL! I’m trying to maintain my body and mind because I’m praying for advances in medical science to help me. I want to ready for when that day comes. (I can’t allow myself to even think “if that day comes.”) I’m not doing anything special really. I’m just playing the hand I was dealt. I’ve experienced far worse than this and survived. I can do this also. LOL!
I don’t have any illusions that you’re perfect. No one is. But there are people who give up. I know them. You don’t give up and I admire that so much.
I have total sympathy for people who give up. I’m lucky that I have experiences that prove that I can survive. Plus, before the accident I had lots of PTSD and Major Depression therapy for other ongoing trama. Because of this, I already learned how to work with my mind when I had the accident. It took several therapists. Maybe the people who finally gave up just trust that the docs and therapists are good. They may have not gotten the help they needed. I can’t count how many one time visits I had because I didn’t like the “feel” of the first session. Luckily I found 2 great psychologists. The psychiatrist was overworked and just talked to me about 15-20 minutes to keep adjusting my meds. Luckily for me, he was brave enough to give me over the max dosage for Paxil (60mgs LOL) and Risperdol. I was fine within a year or so. Other docs just gave out the meds according to the guidelines. The psychiatrist really saved me because the therapy was worthless until the meds regulated my mind. LOL! Part of it was my fault because I didn’t look for help until I was suicidal and my brain was racing 24/7. The racing brain was pure agony. I couldn’t know what I was thinking because it was so fast and a constant loop of fast music 24/7. I was afraid that my brain was going to explode! LOL! I should have gotten help earlier but I keep hoping it would stop. Instead it got worse. I would have done ANYTHING including death to stop it.
Most people just get either overworked or apathetic docs and therapists. My surgeons were a godsend. I was extremely lucky. My neurosurgeon literally gave me my life back.
I’m lucky. Maybe the people who give up either didn’t get the right help or they didn’t know how to receive the help. It’s really quite sad. I maintain that luck plays a huge part in how people do in life. We don’t have near as much control as we’d like. As children we don’t control our experiences. Some of that stuff stays in our brains and influences our thinking even when we aren’t aware of it. Trust me, even with having experiences to give me confidence to survive, docs et al to help, it’s still hard. Everyday, several times a day, I have to talk in my head to the part that’s too tired to go on. Maybe the people who give up don’t know how to talk to themselves in their head. Maybe they don’t have past experiences of surviving to give them confidence. Maybe they lost something of themselves that was super important to them. It was how them identified themselves…..Giving up is never an easy choice. They fight until they are too tired to fight or they can’t see any respite or hope for better. I could happen to anybody. So far it hasn’t happened to me…knock on wood. I’m not saying it won’t. Who knows what that final straw is that causes somebody to lose their confidence and hope. It could happen to any of us. Nobody is totally immune…Bless us all.
Even your empathy for people who give up is more evidence of what a rare and wonderful breed you are. Thanks for sharing that. Someone who is struggling will read it and be blessed by it.
sorry about the verbosity. I can’t articulate how trying hard or having true feeling about giving up really feels. Don’t admire me, please. I’m just one of the fortunate ones who’s challenge isn’t greater than my abilities. Life can be so sweet and it can also be very hard. We don’t really know as much as we think we do. Giving up only happens when somebody truly is too tired to keep fighting or they can’t see enough payoff for the effort. Trust me. I have to sooth or pep myself up several times a day. It’s a precarious dance….I can’t take any credit. I’m just one of the lucky ones…
Your kind words always touch my soul. Thank you!
I don’t know if it’s still the same, but they used to give you a nibble about learning more in a particular area (especially acquiring the skills necessary if you had notions about becoming an entrepeneur). Then they’d offer you the knowledge for a paid course… I suppose that the courses were probably good but I never tried any.