A friend reached out on whatsapp to ask how he was supposed to find one hour each day for deep focus on an important task. He is a busy man who felt all his time was already taken. Amused, I asked if he was willing to do an exercise that would help him identify how many free hours he had in a week.
Have you ever felt like you needed a few more hours in a day? Like if you had just that extra 60 minutes each day, you will be able to work on your goal. It’s a common sentiment among many people. If you are one of them, I have good news for you. You probably have more spare time than you think. Nobody is productive for 24 hours each day.
Have you ever thought about quitting something? Before the thought crosses your mind, no I am not quitting this blog. Every day, people face a great deal of pressure. I have heard expressions like winners never quit and you are not a loser until you quit trying. Quotes like that may be good for motivation but telling a person to never quit may turn out to be bad advice.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, a lot of people are still working from home. If you have failed to put in place a system for keeping track of the hours you clock in while working from home, you might find yourself working longer hours than you used to yet still achieving less. People have told me they have attended back to back online meetings all day. On the surface, this looks like a productive day but if all they did was attend meetings, when are they supposed to work on their important tasks. No one is hired to attend meetings.
Last week, I wrote about the pomodoro technique where you use a timer to focus on only one task for 25 minutes. The pomodoro technique is useful for getting past the mental block that keeps you getting started on an important task. It is possible to take this principle one step further. How do you normally plan your day? Do you block enough time for important tasks? Or do you spend your day putting out fires?
Everyone has 24 hours in a day. Some people who we call “productive” seem to have a way of getting more out of their 24 hours than the rest of the people who we label “unproductive (or lazy).” Most tasks can be broadly grouped into 2:
The high value important tasks that add the most value to your goals. These are often the tasks that are not fun but necessary. They are also the tasks that most people delay getting started.
The low value unimportant tasks that don’t always add value to your life but can be fun. An average person might spend a lot of their time doing these second group of tasks at the expense of the first.