Happy New Year. This is that time when many people create a to-do list for the first two weeks of the year. I have written earlier about why New year’s resolutions are generally a bad idea for most people. Instead of creating a resolution, I advocate writing a personal development plan for the year. It takes longer but is more actionable than resolutions and you will achieve better results.
A popular misconception about productivity is that productive people get more done because they work 20 hours a day. I don’t know about you but I don’t know anybody that can function on that little sleep everyday. Richard Branson, the Founder of Virgin airways is famous for being up with the sun. He likes to get an early start. At first glance, this looks like he only gets a few hours of sleep each day. However, he is also consistent about going to bed every night at 11pm. He leaves the curtains open so he can feel the rays of the sun striking his face. That’s when he knows it’s time to wake up. This means on average, Richard Branson gets six to seven hours of sleep per day. No one can call him unproductive.
November has been the personal productivity system (PPS) month. I hope you read the three preceding articles that cover what you need to design your own PPS. In case you didn’t you can find them here, here and here. I felt this series wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share some of what I used for my own PPS. I believe there is no such thing as the perfect productivity app and encourage everyone to experiment until they find what works best for them. However, if you are curious about what I use, here you go:
Last week, I wrote about the best ways to deal with a task, an event and a process. Processes are generally more complex and are made up of many tasks being performed by different people. In order to keep processes, running smoothly, you will need to deploy a task management system.
The ideal task management system consists of three things:
- A medium for capturing tasks
- A calendar for noting events
- A system that can handle processes
Last week, I wrote about what a task, an event and a process are. Just in case you missed that post, you can read it here. A good personal productivity system is one that has been set up to handle tasks, events and processes. Each requires a different response.
Tasks are often the easiest to handle. They are to be done by you and you are the only person responsible for them. A task is best handled by being written down as an item on a to-do list. Optionally, you can also write down when a task is due eg Buy onions at ‘Yankaba market 10am. Adding due times can be helpful when you need to arrange tasks in the order to start first. Write down tasks in simple, clear sentences using an action word. Avoid ambiguous words like “Contact” instead use visit, meet with, call, email etc so there is no doubt what you need to do.
I have written a lot about some of my favourite tools and principles of personal productivity. I hope they have been as helpful to you as they have been to me when I began my journey towards making conscious decisions about how I spend my time. This month, I would like to write about how to bring all of those things together to create a personal productivity system that works for you. If you don’t have a personal productivity system (PPS) yet, you can use the posts I will be making in November as a template to build one for yourself. If you already have a PPS, I believe you can still find something in here that will be useful to you.
Before you create your own PPS, you need to understand the difference between a task, an event and a process.
Q4 is an interesting time of the year. Most people see the final quarter as a mop up quarter. It’s not one to make new plans but a good time to neatly round up all the work you have been doing across the first three quarters. It is also the time many people face burnout brought about by a pressure to meet deadlines before the end of the year.