This is Week 10 of a Year of Living Productively
This week I tested several of the principles outlined in the Time Warrior by Steve Chandler. Specifically, I focused my thoughts on the present task and used action to prevent procrastination. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for details.
How the Time Warrior Saved My Sanity This Week
- Reinforced the power of action. There were a number of times I found myself sitting and stewing about something. My usual m.o. when I have a problem is to think about it, Google it, and talk about it. You can imagine how low my productivity is when I’m in this mode. There’s nothing wrong with problem-solving, but taking action is much better for my mood and certainly better for my productivity. I wish I could say I was batting a thousand in this area this week, but I can at least say I spent less time mulling things over and more time doing things.
- Helped me recognize the role of thinking in productivity. I had a challenging week physically and emotionally, but I got to experience the huge impact my thinking has on my ability to get things done. The less I do, the worse I feel. The more I think about my problems, the less I do. I’ve known this truth for a long time, but this week reinforced the lesson.
How the Time Warrior Made Me Crazy This Week
- Not a fun new technique. The nine previous weeks, I had something new to do. This week I just had something new to think. While I think this cognitive strategy has more potential to improve my productivity than anything else I will try, it’s not the most motivating initially.
- Not well physically. I’ve been battling fatigue, making this a very difficult week to work on my productivity. However, it’s probably the ideal test for me.
Did the Time Warrior Help Me Get More Done?
Yes. Did I have one of my most productive weeks yet? No. But I got more done this week by far than if I had not been focusing on taking action and adopting a present focus. I believe that with time, this attitude has great potential to improve my productivity.
While I honestly never think of the Time Warrior book per se, the truth of accomplishment being the best cure for malaise has become entrenched in my thinking.
The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 11
This week I’ll be using the principle of scheduling my tasks. I’ll be using the SmartPad and SmartDayPro apps to implement it.
The concept. Research is convincing that deciding when you’ll do something dramatically increases the likelihood that you’ll do it. However, the problem with the studies is usually they’re examining the likelihood of subjects doing a task or two. People like you and I would be scheduling multiple tasks. So does the benefit of allocating a time for them disappear? We’ll see.
There’s another potential benefit of scheduling multiple tasks, however. Scheduling requires an estimate of time needed that is used to determine how many tasks can be completed on a given day. The pie-in-the-sky productivity hopes of people like yours truly disappear when confronted with the cold, hard truth of a schedule. Difficult decisions about what won’t be done today can be made with the added inspiration of realizing that not even the scheduled tasks can be completed if you indulge in an extended web vacation. I know I’m not the only one who takes them! The iOS apps from Left Coast Logic automatically squeeze your tasks into your schedule (though you can easily rearrange them). The red line that moves through your agenda along with the clock, eliminating potential tasks when others aren’t completed on time, is very motivating.
If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Determine a method of scheduling each day’s tasks. You could use a paper or digital calendar or an app like SmartTimePro. Scheduling should be done daily to accommodate changes that come up. Estimate how much time each task will take. I like to over-estimate, doubling estimates that are less than an hour. Be sure your appointments and breaks are on the calendar (keeping your working hours in mind), then add your tasks to the schedule. Refer to the schedule throughout the day as you work.
Click here to see how my week of scheduling with SmartPad went.
If you’ve tried Time Warrior principles to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.
Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far: A Year of Living Productively
Week 1: Paper To-Do List
Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants
Week 3: Routines
Week 4: Paper Planner
Week 5: SMEMA
Week 6: Guilt Hour
Week 7: Envision Ideal Day
Week 8: Do it Tomorrow
Week 9: Pomodoro
If you know me at all, you know that I’m like a QVC host when it comes to talking about productivity and time management. After talking about something nonstop for a short time, something else becomes the latest and greatest thing that you just HAVE to try. I’m getting a headache just thinking about listing them all with links, so I’ll skip doing that.
The last couple of days I’ve noticed the signs that I was about to start looking for a new product to pitch. I was reading about methods I’d already tried and discarded (GTD and Toodledo) as well as a method of phone automation that would require me to get a degree in engineering to set up. I first noticed my own tendency to perpetually seek out new methods of managing tasks when I hung out on Mark Forster’s forum. Every couple of weeks there, I would post about the latest tweak or software program I was using. What’s more, the psychologist in me was fascinated by the number of people (including Forster himself) who did the same.
What’s Wrong With Me?
I’ve spent years in personal productivity “psychoanalysis” and plenty of time diagnosing others’ time management woes. Some of the factors that lead to serial program addiction include:
- Overcommitment – We often switch programs to avoid dealing with the fact that we simply can’t do everything
- Perfectionism – We sometimes believe (against better judgment that the right program would allow us to get everything done every day)
- Comparison – We may believe that others are getting more (or more important) things done because of the approach they are using
- Discontentment – We think that somehow we can have more time to do what we want if we change programs
- Boredom – We may recall the last little bit of excitement we had when changing approaches to getting things done and switch gears for a pick-me-up
The Real Reason We Change our Task Management Approach
Those insights haven’t kept me from once again going down the slow road to sloth. So I asked myself WHY once again.
I immediately thought, “I need to get motivated.”
A reasonable rationale, for sure. After all, I had a whole blog devoted to motivating homeschoolers. A desire for motivation underlies all the other factors that lead to problems with our current approach. If we’re overcommitted, we feel we need to get motivated to get more done or drop some commitments. If we’re perfectionistic or comparing, we think motivation is just what we need to get our time management up to standard. If we’re discontented or bored, we believe that a good shot of motivation will be a cure-all. But for the first time, I questioned the premise. Do I really need to get motivated?
The Charles (Pa) Ingalls Productivity Approach
One of my heroes is Charles Ingalls, Pa from the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I would love to know if he was really the incredible dad and man Laura made him out to be. I hope so! A model of productivity, he built homes and fences, farmed, hunted, traded, parented, helped his neighbors, and played the violin. Along the way, he seemed to have a lot of fun. I can’t imagine this productivity hero of mine ever saying, “I need to get motivated.” Pa saying he needed to get motivated to build furniture, make the long, cold trip to buy supplies, or harvest the hay? Laughable.
Was Pa just naturally motivated, I wondered? Perhaps he got more of the motivation gene than the average person. Maybe that was my problem. I just lack the super charge I need to get things done and it isn’t my fault; I wasn’t born with the gene.
Like romantic love, motivation wasn’t considered necessary to be faithful in times past. Pa didn’t need motivation to do what needed to be done and neither did Ma. They didn’t read about every conceivable way to achieve their goals; they just got busy and didn’t worry about the rest. Believing that we need motivation is like thinking we need a smart phone to get things done. It’s nice, but NOT necessary.
Christians aren’t commanded to have the mind of Pa Ingalls, but the mind of Christ. What if Jesus had thought, “I need to get motivated before I feed these people, heal this man, go to the cross”? Thank God, He didn’t.
Why It Only Takes 5 Minutes to Super Charge Your Productivity
In the time it’s taken you to read (or skim) this post, you have exactly what you need to have super-powered productivity: Recognize that you do NOT need to be motivated. Nike was right: Just DO it.
If you’re still here:
- Close the app store window (you don’t need a new productivity app)
- Stop reorganizing your to-do list
- Do just one thing and repeat
I’d ask a question to get comments going, but I bet we both have something more important to do. God bless your day!