One of the biggest mistakes we can make during our productive work day is keeping everything stored in our minds. When we try to remember everything that we have to do, our brain constantly reminds us of these tasks, which creates a state of constant uneasiness. So our work now becomes a state of angst and even stress as we whittle down our to-do lists and become overwhelmed with all the small interruptions we’re faced with during the day.
How we currently work
When we have upcoming projects to complete, our mind is going to constantly be thinking about the work we need to complete, consciously or not, until it’s finished. What we need to leverage instead is productivity systems that store this information for us and we can tackle in batches when we are ready (i.e. a checklist, batching, Eisenhower matrix).
Remember, our brain is not a hard drive, even as much as we push for it to be!
Refer to this when referencing how much information we can conceivably keep in our brain at a given time:
“We retain 10% of what we read.
We retain 20% of what we hear.
We retain 30% of what we see.
We retain 50% of what we hear and see.
We retain 70% of what we say.
We retain 90% of what we do.”
As we would expect, doing is the most memorable for us. The key for personal productivity is doing the right thing at right time. Throughout the day we have so many distractions that draw away our attention and focus on the important. How many times has your productivity been interrupted by you checking your phone? Or others talking close to your desk? Or even a Spotify ad? (for those of us that haven’t converted to premium)
How we can plan our day to work more productively
So a quick and simple implementation to your morning routine could be a ‘goal-oriented task system.’ Where you write down the most important tasks you aim to accomplish today. These are things that can be completed today to get you closer to your long term goals. Something as simple as an index card that you carry around in your pocket will work. Now, try to think more clearly, and only focus on that specific task for half an hour.
There are to-do list apps available too, but it is so simple to pick up your phone, see a new notification and navigate away from your must-do list. That is why good old pen and paper will be your best friend when starting out on this personal productivity journey. We aren’t all going to become productive overnight. Some people try to change too many things at once and burn out, but small-daily tweaks can add up.
Daily focus on your highest leveraged activities will create longterm discipline in planning your day. You just have to start, today!