What tips or hacks have saved you the most time or energy in your life? originally appeared on Quora--the knowledge-sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
I have these guiding philosophies for managing my time and energy:
- Productivity Is About Mind Management, Not Time Management: We all have the same amount of time, but if we can get ourselves into the right mind state, we can have far more output.
- Be Perpetually Productive: Think of yourself as a perpetual motion machine. Each action you take builds momentum for another action. Even when you're , your body is building potential energy for you to be more effective when you're actively working.
The goal, then, is to time the right kind of work for when I'll be in the right state for that kind of work. Over time, I've achieved a sustainable rhythm for this.
Here are some of the tactics that have been most useful in achieving this:
1. Dedicated planning sessions
Each Sunday, I do a weekly review (à la GTD). I look over my calendar, and actually type out a bullet-point list of everything on it. This programs what's scheduled for the week into my brain so there are no surprises, but it also gives me a chance to think of any details I might miss otherwise (if my flight leaves at 2 p.m., what time should I head to the airport?).
Prioritization is cognitively demanding, and switching mind states has additional costs, sois a great use of energy.
2. Weekly routines, not daily routines
Your energy is different throughout the week, so you should arrange your work accordingly. I don't have meetings on Mondays or Tuesdays, because I reserve those days for my most important work. Later on in the week, as I run out of energy for doing such work, I'll do more social and exploratory things, such asinterviews. If there's any administrative work that needs to be done (such as looking over financials), that's reserved for Friday.
By recognizing the, you can plan your week to do the right kind of work at the right time.
Not everyone has this much control over his or her schedule, so I recommend starting with a two-hour block every week that is dedicated to your most important work.
Starting work is painful. That never goes away, but you can get better at facing it, just like you can get better at playing the piano or julienning carrots. You caninto getting started if you commit to 10 minutes. Set a timer, and promise yourself to only work on this one thing for 10 minutes--no Facebook, Twitter, or even snacking.
You won't let yourself fail because it's such a small commitment, but you'll simultaneously 1) strengthen your urge suppression by staying on-task, and 2) get into the project you're working on. By the end of 10 minutes, you'll want to keep going.
It doesn't have to be 10 minutes--it just has to be a ridiculously easy goal. Using this trick, I've worked up to where I set a routine to spend the first hour of each day working on my most important project (this sometimes bleeds into the entire morning).
With those principles in mind, and by planning, building a weekly routine, and building your strength for starting, you can achieve a perpetual state of productivity where none of your energy goes to waste.
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