I came across a really interesting interview / conversation with Mel Robbins. It’s 50 minutes long, in my opinion that’s a good investment of your time. I think motivation is overrated. Mel Robbins takes it one step further and says that motivation is garbage. “You are never going to feel like it.” Mel Robbins also talkes about her 5 second rule which is a really interesting concept.
When I advise people on how to best get things done I often suggest that they get a clean desk. After reading Is A Messy Desk Really Better For Creativity? I will modify that advice. It’s about removing clutter and distractions, not about a clean desk. What distracts us vary, figure out what works best for you and find your own level of neatness.
The part “Change Your Definition Of Clutter” contains this gem (bolding is mine), a great definition of clutter:
Clutter isn’t necessarily piles and items that appear disorderly. Instead, clutter is made up of items we keep that do not serve us—that book you’re never going to read, the papers you think you need to hang onto because you have to, etc. If you need it and it’s giving you something positive, it’s not clutter.
My advice now on clean or messy desk is this:
Get rid of clutter, things that no longer serve you.
Tomighty is an excellent desktop timer tailor made for when you use the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is a simple way to boost your productivity when performing mind-consuming tasks. It helps you keep yourself focused while reducing mental exhaustion
Tomighty has as default 25 minutes for the Pomodoro work-session, 5 minutes for the short break and 15 minutes for the long break. You can change this if you want but it works really well.
Just start the clock for a Pomodoro, focus on your work and 25 minutes later the timer goes off. Select a short or long break, I suggest you leave the computer during the break. Once the break is over the timer goes off again and it’s time for another Pomodoro.
We’re drowning in email. And the many hours we spend on it are generating ever more work for our friends and colleagues. We can reverse this spiral only by mutual agreement. Hence this Charter
The rules are these, they are explained more at the site.
1. Respect Recipients’ Time
2. Short or Slow is not Rude
3. Celebrate Clarity
4. Quash Open-Ended Questions
5. Slash Surplus cc’s
6. Tighten the Thread
7. Attack Attachments
8. Give these Gifts: EOM NNTR
9. Cut Contentless Responses
Follow as many of those rules as possible and the (email) world will be a better place.
I was reminded of The Pomodoro Technique™ when I attended Øredev 2009. It’s an interesting concept described like this:
The Pomodoro Technique™ is a way to get the most out of time management. Turn time into a valuable ally to accomplish what we want to do and chart continuous improvement in the way we do it.
Time management is a misnomer since time cannot be managed, it’s all about managing your attention. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato, it refers to the timer you use to keep track of time and the only tool you need. The basic unit of work in the Pomodoro Technique™ is as simple as these five steps:
1. Choose a task to be accomplished
2. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
4. Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
5. Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break
The Pomodoro Technique is great. Step three above is about working on one task and that task only – no distractions and no multitasking. Knowing that the timer will tell you when the time is out means you can focus completely on the task at hand. The Pomodoro Technique works great together with the 18 Minute Plan.
The timer sound gets a bit annoying hearing it that often. I’ll do some work on my timer to make it more quiet. An alternative, as long as you are by your computer, is Tomatoi.st which is a Pomodoro timer in your browser. Another option is focus booster which can be used online or as a desktop application.
To get a quick introduction to the Pomodoro Technique, get the Cheat Sheet in Pomodoro Resources. The Cheat Sheet is described as This one-page paper is a valuable tool for Pomodoro Technique™ beginners. It’s also the perfect way to show your friends and colleagues how the technique works. In the Pomodoro Resources are also Worksheets (To Do Today and Activity Inventory) and a 45 page PDF that explains the concept more in details.
Update December 27, 2009
I found ClockSmith Lite and use the chime every half hour as my timer. At the chime I take a five minute break, then work for 25 minutes until the next chime. The chime sounds much nicer than my kitchen timer.
Update March 27, 2010
Today I came across Tick Tock Timer which is a very nice online timer. It’s now bookmarked for future use.
There’s too much emphasis these days on productivity, on hyperefficiency, on squeezing the most production out of every last minute. People have forgotten how to relax. How to be lazy. How to enjoy life.
It’s possible we’re trying to get more done because we love doing it — and if that’s the case, that’s wonderful. But even then, working long hours and neglecting the rest of life isn’t always the best idea. Sometimes it’s good to Get Less Done, to relax, to breathe.
We do need to relax and breathe. No one runs their car engine on full throttle all the time, why do it with yourself?
Leo lists some useful tips on how to relax and ends the post like this:
Step by step, learn to relax. Learn that productivity isn’t everything. Creating is great, but you don’t need to fill every second with work. When you do work, get excited, pour yourself into it, work on important, high-impact tasks … and then relax.
Now I’ll do what I do on a regular basis, it’s also in Leo’s list of tips, I’ll go for a walk.
This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.
You can’t manufacture time, you can’t reproduce time, you can’t slow time down or turn it around and make it run in the other direction. You can’t trade bad hours for good ones, either. About all the time management you can do is to cram as much productive work as possible into each day. What you can manage, however, is your attention.
The e-book includes a simple question that helps us indentify what our top priority should be:
If I could accomplish only one thing right now, what would that one thing be?
The e-book also describes the Eisenhower method for sorting our tasks by importance and urgency, it’s simple yet powerful.
This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.
I got a link from Colin Lewis on Twitter that took me to Ed Batista: Time Horizons. Don’t miss that at the end there is a 2-slide PowerPoint version of the post
It’s an interesting article that made me think about which time horizons I use and why. Ed writes that ‘The 10 time horizons (See image) flow continuously from this immediate moment to my very last breath’.
I don’t agree with that, there are three horizons that I see as ‘timeless’ in the sense that we don’t know when it happens and how they fit in among the other. They are ‘in this job’, ‘in this career’ and ‘before I retire’. We can plan for them but I think these three horizons are on a different scale.
Ed Batista gives us these questions that help us check if we are using the right time horizon.
When we assess our lives–our fulfillment, our effectiveness, what’s working, what’s not working–how far ahead do we look? How far ahead should we look? Is that time horizon a good fit for the issues under consideration? And what issues are most relevant to us in a given time horizon?
when looking ahead it’s helpful to realize that I’ve moved from one horizon into the next. It prompts me to ask: Am I in the right timeframe? Should I take a step back–or jump even further ahead? Should my approach change? Am I still asking the right questions? Are the same issues in play?
The time horizons that I use are:
• This week.
• One month.
• 12 months.