Monday, January 10, 2011

Productivity and Focus tip

Has this ever happened to you?
You’re working on a project, and suddenly get inspiration for another project or task, perhaps you remember some other small job that needs to be done, or maybe you receive an email asking you to do something quickly for somebody else. It’s tempting to stop what you are doing and work on this other task, after all it’s just a small little thing and won’t take much time, and once it’s done it will be one less thing to worry about.

The problem is that our brains take time to switch focus from one task to another, and if you are constantly interrupting your work to change focus, then you are losing a lot of productivity.

Here is my solution, write it down for later, then put it out of your mind and carry on working with the original project. In my previous post, I spoke about using a “To Do” list, this is the ideal place to write this down.   It takes mere seconds to do, and you don’t need to shift focus in your brain from one task to another, then back again.

Simple and effective.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Productivity with a 2do list

As the senior software developer in a development team I have a thousand and one different things that need to be done an any given time. We have all sorts of systems in place to ensure that I do all that needs to be done; job cards, MS Outlook calendar, project documents, etcetera. Surprisingly, the most effective is still the good old fashioned “To Do” list (or 2do list as I call it).

The 2do list is quite simply a list of tasks that you need to do. It sounds so simple, and it is. You may be thinking that there must be some more advanced way to do this than just writing a list, or that it’s a waste of time. I will share a secret with you...

There is powerful magic in 2do lists

  • They help organise your thoughts and prioritise tasks.
  • They boost productivity as you always know what your next task is.
  • From a motivational perspective, you are now working towards a set goal; completing as many task on the list as possible. 
  • Finally,  crossing items off the list has a great feel good factor and you go home at the end of the day knowing that you were productive.

Make your list now

You can use a pen and writing pad or a spreadsheet on your PC. If you are using a pen and paper, keep it close to your writing hand, if you are using an application on your computer, ensure that there is a link to the file on your desktop or task bar and that you are able to cross out or change the colour or completed Items.

Every morning, before your start working, write a list of everything that you need to do, now flag the tasks that must be done before you finish work. If you want to,  you can even assign priority levels to tasks, but I find the simpler I keep the list, the better it works. Cross out each task as you complete it. Start a new list every day so that your list does not get cluttered with completed tasks and provide a false sense of accomplishment.

Over time my 2do list as broken up into several separate lists. There are lists for home and work, daily and monthly, I even have a yearly 2do list with my goals for the year.

Try it now, and see the difference.

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