Opposite Advice for Getting More Done

Opposite Advice for Getting More Done

Opposite Advice for Getting More Done. Maybe all the productivity advice you've heard is wrong?I was reading a question posed on Mark Forster’s forum about whether doing the opposite of what others generally do is effective when it comes to productivity, and I realized that I have found that it is. Here is the advice I have NOT followed with great results.

#1 Collect all your to-do’s into one trusted system.

The gurus who preach this haven’t met people like me who can produce a potential task a second.

Every time I’ve followed this advice, I’ve become overwhelmed and have shut down. It becomes impossible for me to sort out the things I must do from the things I would like to do. A someday/maybe list within the same trusted system doesn’t work for me either. I need to keep all of my ideas and potential tasks in a separate place, so I don’t become confused. Right now, all of my legitimate tasks go into ToDoist and everything else is added to Evernote. Evernote is a great place for me to put things to cool off. I find there are very few of them that I want to do anything with when I review them later.

While it’s a good idea not to have your tasks in many different places, keeping absolutely everything in one place keeps me from getting things done. 

#2 Get everything done on today’s list.

I’m like so many of David Allen‘s clients who are desperate for a “win.” But defining win as getting everything done on my list for today does not work for me.

Predicting the demands on my time for any given day is as accurate as a weather forecast. Things happen.  People and circumstances can keep me from getting everything done, but so can I. I have no way of knowing when I will run out of gas physically or emotionally. Of course, I do what I can to improve my energy levels, but some days I’m unpredictable. I suddenly need a nap or idle entertainment to recharge.

When I use this principle of completion to evaluate my productivity, I feel like a failure and am less motivated, not more. Instead, I schedule my tasks using Timeful and if I get MOST of my tasks done for the day, I count it as a win.

#3 Don’t procrastinate.

Of course, there are times when procrastination makes more work for us and leads to strained relationships and poor self-esteem. But I’ve learned to be grateful for procrastination.

Procrastinating has kept me from working on projects that I wasn’t committed to. Sure it would have been better if I had said no in the first place, but sometimes I don’t consciously realize that I don’t want to or shouldn’t be doing something. Procrastinating has also lessened my workload. Many times I have put off doing something only to discover that it didn’t need to be done or someone else did it. Procrastinating on purchases has saved me money as well. I buy a tiny fraction of things I add to my wish list on Amazon. I allow the desire of the moment to cool. Mark Forster’s Do It Tomorrow is contrary to the advice not to procrastinate with excellent results.

Procrastinating isn’t always a bad thing and can actually help me get more done.

#4 Delegate anything you’re not good at.

I can appreciate the thought behind this advice and sometimes it really does help you get more done. But most of the time it keeps me from accomplishing what I want.

I’m someone whose energy and achievement are directly tied to being challenged. I would rather delegate many things I AM good at, because they’re boring and tedious. Things I’m not good at inspire me. I want to learn how to do them so I can get more done. A second problem I’ve found with delegating things I’m not good at is I lose control. My productivity slows down on specific projects as I wait for the delegated work to be done. I can also be taken advantage of by people who know more than I do, because they can tell me how long something will take and how much it will cost and I won’t know any better.

While delegating is the right choice in some circumstances, I’ve found that much of the time I shouldn’t delegate what I’m not good at.

#5 Don’t change systems frequently.

The typical advice is to find one approach to managing your tasks and stick with it. Fiddling with your system just wastes time, the gurus say. But as someone who intentionally changed systems nearly every week during A Year of Living Productively, I learned that doing the opposite has been very effective for me.

Looking back at the times I’ve changed approaches to tasks, one thing is clear: I didn’t make changes during times of high productivity. Instead, I made these changes when my productivity and motivation were low. I would read a new book, try a new app, or scour the Internet for a new way of thinking about work and BAM, my productivity would dramatically increase. I got out of bed excited to use my new system and found myself getting twice as much done.

Rather than being a means of wasting time, changing systems has been a consistently effective way for me to get more done.

How about you? Do you do the opposite of the standard advice with good results?

I share more contrarian principles in A Rebel’s Guide to Productivity.

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6 Important Habits for Getting More Done

6 Important Habits for Getting More Done

6 important habits for getting more done. It's not just about to-do lists!I spent a year doing weekly experiments in productivity. The benefit of the series is that I learned the most important habits for getting more done. My hope is that reviewing what works for me might give you some insights into what could work for you. I hope you’ll listen to an interview I did with Barb Raveling of the Christian Habits podcast on the subject. Barb wanted specific advice for a time-management hiccup that plagues many of us. I’d love to know if you have different advice.

#1 Plan your week

David Allen’s Getting Things Done was my first foray into productivity literature. I loved it and should have been a paid seminar leader for as many people as I told about it. GTD was the impetus behind me finally getting my email under control and collecting all my to-do’s into one trusted system. I had these habits prior to experimenting. The GTD habit I didn’t have was a weekly review.

I became overwhelmed by the process of reviewing all potential to-do’s each week as part of the GTD process and so I just didn’t do it. Unfortunately, that meant that I wasn’t reviewing my calendar or projects for the upcoming week. I was often finding myself surprised that I couldn’t get to a number of tasks I planned because I had forgotten about prior commitments.

Using a paper planner during my experiments convinced me weekly planning was important. Now I have the habit of planning my week each Sunday. I actually look forward to it! I review my calendar, projects, and life areas in ToDoist, and even Pinterest ideas that are sorted into corresponding secret boards. Rather than overwhelming me, a weekly planning session (or review) helps me feel in control. I can set weekly goals and make sure that the tasks I can reasonably accomplish in the upcoming week are visible. The rest are put aside. I no longer have calendar surprises! For more on my weekly planning process, read this post.

If you aren’t getting much accomplished in a given week, try a weekly planning session. Just 30 minutes of planning will be a wonderful investment in your productivity.

Timeful scheduling and task app

#2 Schedule your day

Before my year of productivity, I wasn’t really wild about scheduling my days. It felt too restrictive for this spontaneous, time-rebel woman. I did love my week of using SmartDay, an iOS app that automatically places to-do’s around scheduled activities. But my passion for the habit of scheduling my days didn’t reach its peak until after the series was over.

The first thing that convinced me of the value of scheduling was Francis Wade’s post that has been hugely popular on this blog. I thought I needed to revisit the idea and I did begin using SmartDay more frequently. But it wasn’t until I read this article about how the president’s day is scheduled that I realized that I needed that kind of productivity. While I don’t have an assistant who schedules for me, I am that assistant.

About the time that I read this article, I heard about an iOS scheduling app very similar to SmartDay called Timeful. I love it! Each morning I put together the day’s agenda based on my weekly plan. When each new activity is supposed to start, Timeful plays a pleasant tone on my phone. Unlike a paper schedule, Timeful makes it easy to move things around and change the amount of time I plan to devote to them. Timeful reigns me in when I start off thinking I can easily finish 101 tasks in a day; they just won’t fit in the calendar! If I want to leave times open in my schedule, Timeful makes suggestions and learns from my behavior when I am most likely to want to do tasks. The bonus is Timeful can be used to schedule goals as well. I don’t think I’ve ever completed the schedule as written, but here’s why this doesn’t discourage me: I accomplish more in half a day that’s been scheduled than I do in an entire day just working from a to-do list. I created a Timeful calendar in GCal and now also have a record of how I’ve spent my time.

If you need to get more done, try scheduling your day. Even old-fashioned paper will work!

#3 Build energy-based routines

Routines differ from schedules in that they are tasks you repeat daily or weekly and don’t need to be put on your to-do list. I relied on routines before starting my year of productivity, but I kept trying to force myself into idealistic routines that just didn’t work for me. For example, I tried to get myself to do homeschooling subjects with the kids (that I don’t enjoy doing) in the afternoon. Once afternoon comes, I have very little energy left to overcome resistance. I learned that putting those subjects early in the day, when I’m most energized, made all the difference. I saved the subjects I loved to teach for the afternoon.

Similarly, I learned that trying to get myself to do high-energy tasks in the evening was a waste of time–no matter how ideal it would be. Evenings are now saved for social media, schlepping kids to activities (when I can’t talk my husband into doing it), and family fun. That understanding enabled me to stop being so mad at myself for “not getting anything done” in the evenings.

But I was left with a dilemma. I am writing a homeschool curriculum–a major undertaking. I kept trying to find a time to work on it in my daily schedule. Morning was an obvious choice, but it wasn’t working for me at all. I can find morning time to exercise, do devotions, and chat with my husband, but not for writing. I tried getting up even earlier during the course of my year of productivity and found I was crashing mid-morning. I’ve already made it clear that I’m worthless most evenings, but I thought I would just have to force myself to write at night. You can imagine how that went. I realized that the ideal time for me to write was early afternoon. Yes, I just said that I didn’t like to teach aversive subjects in the afternoon, but that’s teaching after a full morning. I have always longed to write in the afternoon, but felt guilty about it. After reviewing other homeschooling mothers’ schedules (who have many children and blog, too), I realized I was not only spending more time doing hands-on teaching than they were, but than most public school teachers! I reevaluated my teaching schedule, made some changes to encourage more independent learning, and started writing in the afternoons. I have written every single day since making the change and feel energized while doing so!

If you are struggling to get things done, build a routine around your energy levels. Keep experimenting until you find the right combination of times and tasks.

#4 Work little and often

It’s a waste of time to try and figure out why you procrastinate on some tasks. Yes, I’m a psychologist and I’m saying that! I have no idea why I hate mailing things so much, but I do. I would rather take a paper and drive it across town. It’s weird. But during my year of living productively, I discovered a solution: just do a little and do it often.

I discovered that I could get things mailed if I counted any tiny step as done for the day. I would find an envelope and re-date the mailing task for the next day when I would put a stamp on it. Yep, it’s ridiculous, but it worked. Before I started practicing little and often, I would have items to be mailed sitting for weeks. Now when I come across a scheduled task that I’m putting off, I will count any little step as done for the day. Fortunately, I don’t have to do this often, but it makes a world of difference to do something. The next day when I’m faced with the same task, it feels less onerous because “I’ve already started it.” Even though Pomodoros were a separate weekly experiment during the year of productivity, they’re effective for the same reason. For a particularly aversive task, I will set the timer for five minutes and call it done.

Do you keep facing the same yucky task day after day? Do five minutes or one tiny step on it and count it done! Repeat tomorrow.

#5 Do it now

My week of doing it now appealed to readers and even my kids who loved this video. I can be doing a great job with my schedule, but if I don’t do the little tasks when they need to be done, I can easily find myself overwhelmed. I’m talking about things like adding things to shopping lists as you see you need them, putting clothes away as you take them off, and cleaning up messes as you make them. David Allen recommends doing tasks that took less then two minutes. I think that’s a fine rule, but even better is to do tasks now if now is the best time to do them. We will not have more time later!

Some quick tasks are better batched. Paying bills is a good example. I pay bills online on Mondays. Even though it would take me just a minute to pay a bill I receive on a Tuesday, I don’t. But if I spill a box of cereal, I’ll clean it up now. I won’t wait until kitchen clean up day. Does this seem obvious? I become an imbecile when it comes to these things.

If tasks are starting to pile up, do them now if now is the best time to do them.

#6 Ask for help

I have my kids do chores and my husband is a big help, but I rarely ask for help in other ways. During my weekly experiment, I learned how important delegating can be to get more done. But in the months since my experimenting, I have learned that asking for help can be an even more powerful way of accomplishing things.

Because I didn’t have the ask-for-help habit, I wasted a lot of time doing things myself or doing them the hard way. I recently found another example of how my behavior hurt my productivity. I had been wishing for an iOS app that would enable me to process my to-do’s. I had to wait to use the desktop to get them into ToDoist. I also wished that there were an iPhone app that would allow me to attach photos or files to email automatically. Mike Vardy mentioned Dispatch in the ToDoist Google+ group. Turns out, it does everything I need it to do. I could have been enjoying the faster email processing if I had only asked if there were apps that did what I needed. It’s a hard habit to break, but I’m trying to ask people for help more often.

I’ve also learned to ask for help from God. I have always been willing to ask God for help for medical and relationship and even emotional issues. But not to-do’s. When it came to tasks, deep down I felt that I had no business asking God for help. I just needed to work harder, stop procrastinating, and stop watching cat videos. If I asked for help, that’s what He would say anyway, isn’t it? It turns out that God is much less of a task master than I am. Even when I waste time, God wants to help me. He doesn’t want me to be a self-reliant Christian, but to get to know how good He really is. He has canceled appointments when I’m overbooked, left the stoplights on green, and even given me a close parking space when I asked. Asking God for help with all the little to-do’s is a habit I’m in the process of developing. God is in the process of using it to develop me.

If you don’t know what to do first, try going to God! Ask Him for help, even if you’ve been on a cat video marathon.

Which of these habits do you need to develop most? Or is there another habit that helps you get more done?

I’d love to connect on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, or via productivity posts in your inbox.

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The AGT Approach to Productivity: What the Popular Show Can Teach Us About Getting More Done

The AGT Approach to Productivity: What the Popular Show Can Teach Us About Getting More Done

The America's Got Talent Approach to Productivity: What the Popular Show Can Teach Us About Getting More DoneOur family has been watching America’s Got Talent for the first time this season and it’s been enjoyable. But I think the most valuable aspect of watching for me is what it’s taught me about personal productivity. Whether you’ve seen the show or not, you may appreciate what you can learn from it, too.

#1 It’s okay to let a lot of tasks audition for your attention

The AGT season begins with auditions in front of the judges and a live audience for acts that have made it through the city auditions. The judges approve a high percentage of these acts; they all seem great! What’s remarkable (and sometimes wearying) is how many acts are allowed to audition.

This first round is like our task inbox. The majority of the potential tasks, projects, and opportunities presented to us should go into our inbox so we can consider them again. While the number of possibilities can be tiring, I like to keep my inbox open to them. A point of clarification: urgent tasks wouldn’t be put in the inbox (AGT is an entertainment venue, not an urgent care clinic).

#2 Give tasks a second critical audition

There are a small number of acts (eight this year) that are allowed to audition at Radio City Music Hall without a second audition, but there are none that aren’t given a second consideration. These eight fortunate acts were discussed by the judges and were given a free pass where Judgment Week was concerned. All the rest auditioned for the judges, and only the judges, again. There is something about the second look that makes the judges wonder what they were thinking when they put them through in the first place. Removed from the emotion of the crowd, the judges are able to discern which acts are most likely to achieve their goal of discovering a million-dollar act. A sizable portion of the acts are dismissed at this point.

With fresh eyes, we will also recognize immediately when an “act” in our inbox needs to end its journey with us. Time to allow emotion to cool and a quiet space can likewise help us determine if an item is a clear winner because it will help us reach our goals. I prefer to pass judgment on my tasks in the quiet of my family room the next morning.

#3 Limit the number of tasks in each genre

AGT is seeking a variety of acts for its finalists. They wouldn’t want 20 singers and 4 dance acts, because it wouldn’t be as exciting as a few singers, a few dancers, a few comedians, and a few magicians.

Variety is the goal for most of us, too. We all have life areas that are our genres. Some of mine include homeschooling, blogging, writing, relationships, and church. Blogging is an area I tend to have too many “acts” in. I have to eliminate some of them so I have more great relationship acts in my life. I can easily see how many tasks of each genre I have by assigning them a category. I do this in ToDoist, but nearly any application or paper list will work. I’m happier and healthier when I have balance.

#4 Get input from another audition

At Radio City Music Hall, each act once again has the benefit of a live audience, but is now judged by America. More than half of the acts are eliminated by this vote.

It’s easy to add tasks to a list and neatly categorize them, but that won’t mean they’ll go any further. We need to review them again and get input to trim the list . It would be interesting for me to have my readers vote each week on which tasks I should do, but not very practical. However, I can get valuable input during my weekly review. My husband’s vote carries great weight with me, because he not only cares about my life balance, but about my goals. Looking over my upcoming commitments is also a vote for certain tasks over others. The calendar can dictate which tasks go on. Finally, I consider past results to help me differentiate the winners. For example, when considering a long list of potential blog post topics, I review Google analytics for my most popular posts to decide which ideas will go forward.

#5 Choose a small number of finalists after yet another audition

AGT will continue having auditions and votes and judge input until a small pool of finalists is chosen. With time, more opportunities to see the acts, and a limited number of finalist spots, choosing often seems easier.

My week seems to have plenty of time, but my days–not so much. I plan my day each morning and often decide that the task I added to DayMap for the day isn’t going through. Like the AGT judges, I would love to keep so many of these options, but there isn’t room for them all in my life. I limit tasks using a scheduling app that I will tell you about soon. The winners are the tasks I actually do, with most of them hopefully helping me reach my goals.

#6 Let tasks audition again in the future

A number of acts that make it through in AGT were cut in previous seasons. Either the time wasn’t right, the act wasn’t, or the judging was different.

Cutting tasks from our list doesn’t mean they’ll never be winners. That’s what a Someday/Maybe list is for. I keep the tasks that didn’t make it in Evernote. There are too many of them to review every week, but I can easily add a tickler date to them so they can audition for my attention again.

Consider which of these lessons has the most potential to increase your productivity and put it into practice this week. Let me know how it goes! 

If you enjoyed this post, follow me on Google+ and subscribe to productivity posts so we can get more done together.

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Can David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner Help You Get More Done?

Can David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner Help You Get More Done?

David Seah, productivity, time management

This is Week 34 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner could help me get more done. I pre-planned 3 tasks and added more as they “emerged.” I also estimated how much time the tasks would take and scheduled some of the pre-planned tasks. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for details.

How The Emergent Task Planner Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Got me thinking about my MITs again. I’ve gotten away from thinking about the most important tasks to accomplish each day. The Emergent Task Planner (ETP) definitely helped me narrow down my list of want to and must do’s.
  • Reminded me to be realistic. I really wasn’t far off in terms of estimating how much time my tasks would take, but that was AFTER I’d written them down. My usual approach is to live in lala land, imagining I can “get caught up” in one day. hahaha
  • Gave me a place to write. I didn’t do this until later in the week, but I really enjoyed brainstorming on the extra lines provided. I drafted a terrific blog post idea. No, I don’t think that’s the point of the extra space, but I was shying away from the form because of perfectionism. Feeling free to take notes on it made it much more appealing.

How The Emergent Task Planner Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Couldn’t keep track of the paper. It got better toward the end of the week, but at first, it was really annoying to realize that I’d left the form on a different floor of the house. I didn’t feel free to just work without it as I have with other paper approaches because of the time tracking issue. I knew I would have no idea how much time I actually spent without referring to the form before starting a task.
  • Cramped by the task ordering. I don’t think I did the tasks in order any day this week. I didn’t feel it mattered so much within the first three tasks, but I was doing tasks that emerged first and didn’t feel this was in the spirit of the form. Maybe I’m wrong, but in any case, it made the form less appealing for me.
  • My inner rebel. It seemed that as soon as I committed to doing a task this week, that was it: I wouldn’t do it. It seemed to be my inner rebel rearing her ugly head. She may have had enough of all this productivity hacking! Either that, or I was just really tired. I gave myself permission to let things go. I’m OK with that, except in some situations (not this week), that attitude has meant I’ve forgotten some critical things. I tend to be an all-or-none lady. I don’t think this has anything to do with the ETP, however.

Did The Emergent Task Planner Help Me Get Things Done?

Given my attitude, yes. I was tempted to say no, but the truth is I think I would have done even less without the process of writing out my plan each day on the ETP. That being said, I’m not that excited about continuing to use it. Maybe I’ll change my mind when my rebel has been placated.

**UPDATE**

I don’t need a paper planner like this now that I’m using Skedpal. However, I think this may be a good analog tool for people who aren’t as rebellious as I am.

GTD, productivity, Do it Now, Nerd Fitness, Steve Kamb

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 35

This week I’ll be testing Steve Kamb’s Do it Now approach. Just as Steve Kamb, the blogger behind Nerd Fitness, suggests, I am going to stop putting off daily living tasks until later. Instead, I will do them “now.”

The concept. Steve argues that we make work for ourselves by putting off things like dishes, laundry, and clean up. Doing it later means doing it longer. The principle of Do it Now does not mean that you interrupt your work for every person, demand, or idea that presents itself.

This is not a new concept to me at all. In fact, it’s a problem I thought I’d mastered. But slowly, I’ve noticed that I am not immediately hanging up my clothes, putting my dishes in the dishwasher, or putting school books away “now.” I am waiting for that magical time period when everything is quick and fun to do known as “later.” Of course, later usually makes tasks more onerous.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read Steve’s post and watch the funny (and strangely motivating) video he includes. Purpose to handle all those little tasks that should be done as you think of them “now.” If you’d like to comment or share this post, you’d better do it now. You know you won’t have time later. 😉

To see if Do It Now helped me, click here.

Are you on Google+? Follow me here.

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

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

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

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

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Can David Seah’s Ten for Ten Help You Get More Done?

Can David Seah’s Ten for Ten Help You Get More Done?

David  Seah, to do list

This is Week 33 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether David Seah’s Ten for Ten could help me get more done. I tried to complete ten tasks a day, earning as many points as possible. See the bottom of last week’s post for more details.

How Ten for Ten Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Gave me credit for doing tasks later in the day. Getting more points the more tasks I did was like getting an Atta Girl — something I really respond well to.
  • Liked not having to commit to ten tasks up front. So many productivity approaches want you to plan your tasks in advance and then life happens! It was so nice not to feel penalized for going with the flow.
  • Enjoyed working from a short paper list. As much as I appreciate the access and email connectivity that digital task managers provide, there’s still something about paper that helps me relax.

How Ten for Ten Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Confusion about what tasks to add. This week was unusual in that we couldn’t follow the usual order every day with some of my kids being out of town. It gave me the opportunity to use Ten for Ten only with tasks apart from my routine and with everything. There were problems with both approaches. When I only added tasks that weren’t part of my routine, I felt ripped off. Doing chores in the evenings is hard for me. When I did it and didn’t get credit for it, I was annoyed. But when I added everything I did, I reached 10 tasks in no time and it didn’t feel legitimate.
  • Confusion about task size. It would be easy to break a job down into small subtasks and be done with Ten for Ten in no time. I wasn’t clear if the tasks should take about an hour? In that case, I would have to add my routine tasks like homeschooling.
  • No competition. If I had been in a public competition with this in which I had an opportunity to shine, it would have been much more effective. As it was, I didn’t feel anyone cared how many points I earned. They just wanted to know what was for dinner!

Did Ten for Ten Help Me Get Things Done?

For a day. I was excited about it the very first day, but the confusion quickly got in the way of its effectiveness. Not sure if more rules would help or I would just rebel against them.

**UPDATE**

Like so many people, I am attracted to pretty forms like these. But their arbitrary nature doesn’t work for me. I am not interested in completing a certain number of tasks, but the most important ones, however long they take. I also don’t want to work ten hours a day!

David Seah, productivity, time management

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 33

This week I’ll be testing David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner. Looking at David’s recent post, I realized I had missed hearing about another approach to productivity he has been talking about since 2006. Using his paper planner, you choose 3 tasks to work on  and block out time for them. After those are complete, you can add 3 more and so on.

The concept. After determining that I can manage about six tasks a day, I was really excited that this planner not only meshes with that, but allows me to add three of the tasks as they emerge. Just because I can handle six tasks a day doesn’t mean that they are all pre-planned. In addition, the planner allows us to keep track of time, take notes, and record interruptions.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read David’s post and download the free forms he shares. Note that he also sells the planner on Amazon and has made some updates to it.

Click here to see if David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner worked for me.

Are you on Google+? Follow me here.

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

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

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

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

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Can the 12 Week Year Help You Get More Done?

Can the 12 Week Year Help You Get More Done?

12 week year

This is Week 32 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether The 12 Week Year {affiliate link} could help me get more done. This week was the 12th week I have been using the approach. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for more details.

How The 12 Week Year Saved My Sanity The Past 12 Weeks

  • Helped me determine which goals were most important to me. I have a hundred different projects I’d like to work on in any given week. When the time frame expands to a year, I’m convinced that I can finish everything I can dream up. The 12 Week Year helped me get serious about what three goals I could realistically accomplish in a summer. The wonderful thing was I felt validated in choosing goals that weren’t necessarily have-to’s, but were want to’s.
  • Helped me break the projects down into weekly tasks. When I begin a big project, I often dive in without thinking through everything that must be done and how long each step will take. The book encouraged me to do it and the online program I paid for made it really easy. I never saw my goals as overwhelming, because I just looked at what I had to do this week to make them happen. I was also prevented from procrastinating because I knew full well that I couldn’t get it all done last minute.
  • Introduced me to time blocking for goals. I wrote about how much I enjoyed time blocking and I’m sure the reason I loved it is because it gave me permission to pursue my want-to’s in a time-protected way. Putting the time block for this work early in the week is both symbolic (this is important!) and practical (you’re more likely to do it).

How The 12 Week Year Made Me Crazy the Past 12 Weeks

  • Didn’t take advantage of accountability. When I did Body for Life and wrote So You’re Not Wonder Woman (which is free on 9/20/13 on Kindle), I had accountability to keep me honest. I had told many people I was doing BFL and I was speaking at a women’s retreat where I would have the best opportunity to share my book with potential buyers. I just didn’t have that kind of accountability this time, nor do I think I could have created it because the goals weren’t the public “I’m going to do it!” type.
  • I failed to review my reasons. One of the aspects of BFL that worked for me was reading over my “why’s” for getting fit every day. I didn’t do that with the 12 Week Year and I think that’s one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy as much success.
  • Too many goals. When I read that I could have up to three goals, I remember thinking, “Hm.” My experience is that I don’t do well having more than one big project at a time to focus on. I hoped this time would be different and it wasn’t. While I loved being able to switch from project to project during my 3-hour time block, that was the end of what I loved. Because I had three goals, I wasn’t able to make progress and accommodate the unexpected. We had a house guest this summer and then I was given an opportunity to host a podcast. I also have a new book project that replaced one of the goals I had started with. Finally, when planning three goals, the potential for underestimating how much time tasks will take is multiplied by three.

Did The 12 Week Year Help Me Get Things Done?

Yes, though I didn’t complete my three goals. I completed 90% of one goal, 50% of the second, and 10% of the third. The good thing is I’m pretty satisfied with my progress given the circumstances. I completed 100% of the new podcast goal and I’ve made good progress on the new book goal, too. I plan on creating a new plan for completing the book as my next 12 Week goal and reading my reasons for writing daily.

**UPDATE**

I had three goals for the past 12 weeks and accomplished them all! One thing that I don’t do is plan everything out in elaborate detail. It’s too frustrating when you have to reschedule. But intermediate deadlines can be very effective if needed and I love setting goals for the quarter as opposed to the year.

Dave Seah

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 33

This week I’ll finish testing Ten for Ten from Dave Seah. A big thank you to Brain Cutlery for the suggestion! The idea is to try to accomplish ten tasks in ten hours and earn points as you go. More points are awarded for tasks finished later in the day. Tasks can be added as you’re ready to work on them, rather than at the beginning of the day.

The concept. The first three tasks are starred because accomplishing them in a day is a great feat in itself. Points are designed to reward you for working beyond that. The method should help in breaking tasks down into reasonable sizes, too. This is a variation on the gamification theme from last week, but it really appeals to me. I just love the look of this form!

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read Dave’s post and download the free forms he shares. We can compare points at the end of the week! (Just a reminder that I am not vouching for sites I link to. They may contain language or opinions you find objectionable. But then that applies to this website, too, doesn’t it? Thanks for understanding.)

If you’d like to see if Ten for Ten worked for me, click here.

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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

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

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

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

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