You have followed several productivity regimes but nothing works. You try to change yourself, follow rigorous routines with discipline, read self-help books but are back to square one in a few days. You procrastinate more than average, get distracted by new projects while abandoning old one and like sleeping and leisure time. But all this makes you anxious that you are missing out on untapped potential. If you can relate to most of the things I mentioned so far then I have something for you. The, yet another, best productivity routine directed towards people like you. So let’s get to it…
This productivity routine revolves around few basic principles:
- Don’t try to change yourself too much.
- Avoid burning out.
- Have visible results.
- Don’t sacrifice rest and leisure activities.
- Enjoy as much as possible.
Divide your waking hours in slots of two hours. You can increase or decrease the slot duration based on your own performance but two hours is a safe starting point.
Waking hours are the time period when you aren’t sleeping (pretty self explanatory). Don’t try to force and change it based on what society says, sleep whenever and however long you like. Sleep multiple times a day, it doesn’t matter. In the end, the assumption is that you’ll end up with approximately sixteen to fourteen hours of waking hours.
Make sure you don’t assign any boundary to these slots. They can start at the start of the hour or anywhere in between it doesn’t matter. Slots are dynamic, they start when you say they start but finish after two hours. Another slot starts when you want and anything in between falls outside of waking hours. It’s that simple, no need to print out or write down a schedule.
Once you are comfortable with the slot mechanism you’ll see that there are six to eight slots a day available for you. What it means is that you can perform that many tasks a day. That’s awesome !
Tasks can be anything, they can be work stuff, personal projects, hanging out with friends, playing games, exercise, cooking or watching a movie. Observe that they include leisure activities and hobbies as well, you should be including whatever you do in your waking hours as tasks and not associate them with chore or grunt work.
Whenever you feel like, start a slot and note down the time it ends, this is essential that you end a slot at a very specific time. Assign any one of the tasks that you feel like doing to this slot. Now, there is no rush or any time management technique to tie you down for the next two hours and spend all your energy on your assigned task. In fact, don’t do that, instead spend only 60-80 percent of the time on the task at hand and allow yourself to get distracted and come back to that task. Only thing you have to make sure is that the majority of the time period of this slot is spent on the task. If you spend the majority of time doing something else then deassign the task and mark the slot as a leisure one, no worries, you didn’t fail, you actually used a leisure slot to do some other task. Slots are dynamic and flexible that way, don’t worry.
Ending the task should be a ritual. That is the only thing in this routine that is rigid. Whatever you end up doing in a slot should get documented somehow, preferably as a physical proof or at least as a mental note. There is no need to maintain a journal, in fact, avoid keeping a common journal for all the tasks. Instead create different ending rituals for different tasks. For example, if you cooked then snap a pic of the end result, if you were playing a game or watching a movie tell a friend or post on a discussion forum about it, if you were doing office work then drop a mail to your boss or colleague, if you were working on a personal project then update your log, or at the very least make a mental note and let yourself know what you had done during the slot.
Idea is to keep everything so dynamic that you can never fail, if you never fail you can’t abandon anything and there is no need to restart anything. Ending a slot is supposed to create a trail of proof that will remind you how much you have achieved after a few days, weeks or months. This trail will let you automatically balance and prioritize your tasks moving forward. And the best thing is that this routine is compatible with any other productivity technique as well, just assign it a slot and move forward.
In the end there are no templates, calendar or spreadsheet to download and follow-up. Just remember the basic concept and keep enjoying your life.
Feel free to send me an email for any suggestion or feedback. Follow me on twitter and github.