Recently I wrote an article on INC about the importance of routines and rituals and the role they play in building a successful business (or for that matter being successful at virtually anything). A lot of people contacted me to say that they have no problem determining the right routines and rituals in theory, but the problem comes that they get derailed the minute they start their day. Well I did too, until I started doing this one simple thing.
Every hour of my working day, I stop and regroup. Generally this is on the hour, as that makes it easy to remember. I start the day with my to do list, with everything organized and prioritised, but then reality steps in. In the past, I would get re-railed by something that has come in on email or by phone and as I sat and reflected on my day, late in the afternoon, I would lament all of the things I didn't get done and beat myself up. And repeat this day after day.
The hourly check in keeps me on track throughout the day - and it has made an incredible difference to my productivity. I use it to refocus, to decide if what has come up is more important than what I had planned and to really measure my progress. And it's particularly beneficial for anyone who likes to chase butterflies as opposed to getting their work done.
So, if you are like me, well intentioned but easily de-railed, try this hourly check in. It's really simple, but like most of the really helpful productivity hacks, until someone tells us to try it, we don't think of it. Try doing your hourly check in for one day and see the difference that it makes to your day. I think you'll be really surprised, I have been.