It really is not a secret. There really are steps we can all follow to get all our stuff done. You can become more productive.
Rule #1: The 96-Minute Rule.
First, remember the 80/20 rule — people get 80% of their work done in 20% of their time. Now, consider the theoretical 8-hour work day: 480 minutes. Now, how many minutes do you need for 20% of your work day? 96 minutes.
So, this rule says to get in your best “place” to work, turn off all distractions, and immerse yourself into your most important task for 96 uninterrupted minutes. 96 minutes a day of focused, uninterrupted, intentional “work” gets a whole lot done.
Here’s advice from Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson:
If you’re constantly staying late and working weekends, it’s not because there’s too much work to be done. It’s because you’re not getting enough done at work. And the reason is interruptions… you can’t get meaningful things done when you’re constantly going start, stop, start, stop.
Instead, you should get in the alone zone. Long stretches of alone time are when you’re most productive. When you don’t have to mind-shift between various tasks…
Rule #2: The Next Action Rule.
David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity, is filled with wisdom and practical advice. But I think the real center of the book is this: do one thing at a time, and when you finish that one thing, always have a place to check the “what’s next” task awaiting you.
From Allen’s book:
When a culture adopts “What’s the next action?” as a standard operating query, there’s an automatic increase in energy, productivity, clarity, and focus.
Rule #3: The Replenish your Energy Rule
Work is good, but productive work is draining. You’ve got to rest up. You’ve got to “empty out” and then “fill back up.”
Rule #4: The Learn to Say Yes, and No, to the Right Time Demands Rule
There is so much you could do. What do you need to say “no” to, so that you can say “yes” to what is far more important? We’ve simply got to learn to say yes and no to the right time demands.
Rule #5: The Schedule a Little Time Each Day for the “Unexpected” Rule
Since distractions, last-minute requests, and those few other items we forgot to put into our “next action system” reach up to bite us, we’ve got to just accept their inevitability. So, schedule some “I should have known this was coming” time. The key is to put the “surprise” tasks into your system, and then make these your next actions during this scheduled chunk of your time.
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis