Manage your Day to Day is a collection of insights and tips on how to organize your day -and yourself- to get things done.
- Do what matters first thing in the day
- Recharge your batteries between tasks
- Ring fence time for your work and time for yourself: don’t allow external forces to intrude
Start With What Matters
A refrain across Manage Your Day to Day is to you carve out time in the beginning of the day to always do the work that matters the most. If you do the easiest things first the tendency will be to postpone and avoid tackling the hardest tasks.
Do the opposite instead: do the hard and important things first. Then you can do “reactive” work, such as the work that people and the world pile up on you (emails, texts, company reports etc.).
Here are a few helpful tips:
- Follow your energy level rhythms: do the most meaningful work when you’re at your top
- Use associative triggers: get a routine to start your work
- Put all your commitment somewhere you can see, but keep them short
- Ring-fence your workday: a hard set time when you start and finish
Similar to what McGuinness mentions, other authors stress the importance of associative triggers. Seth Godin for example, the author of Linchpin, recommends keeping a practice to get to work and associate with symbols. For example a white vest for the lab, or sitting in the same place every time when you’re working.
Power of Frequency
Gretchen Rubin recommends you work on your project at consistent intervals, ideally every day. Consistency is like a muscle, and it gets stronger the more you repeat the action.
But it’s important you act regardless of your mood.
Also read The Compound Effect
Tony Schwartz recommends you take breaks between tasks and work engagements to recharge your batteries. Going full speed is not neither to your body nor to the quality and quantity of your work.
This is something Brendon also says in High Performance Habits
Christian Jarrett had some of the best advise of Manage Your Day to Day.
He righteously says that studies prove that multitasking happens at the price of focus -and quality-. You can only be effective at multitasking when you’re doing tasks that don’t require much conscious effort, such as when walking.
He also recommends that you remove background noise AND temptation. For example, having your smartphone nearby or the Internet connection available is a constant temptation that taxes our brain with the willpower we need to stay away (also read the contentious science of willpower here).
He recommends then that you not only ignore the distraction but remove them altogether.
Race to The Candy
Another good idea I liked was that of using negative distraction to be very effective in your work. For example, you could tell yourself “let’s see how quickly I can finish this. If I do it well, I will reward myself with 5 minutes of social media”.
I use this technique quite a bit with food and wine. When I reach an important milestone I reward myself with a nice meal and wine.
Compulsive Social Media
Social media and the distraction it represents to our daily productivity was a constant refrain in Mange Your Day to Day. I felt an important point was realizing if we check social media because we need to get something done, or if we do it compulsively.
My bet is that the vast majority, me included, do it compulsively and not task-based.
A good idea then would be to make strong rules for your day: social media only this many times in the day. Or only at X hour.
Linda Stone says that in front of our computers we often breathe shallowly, which leads to higher stress, poorer decision making, and general poorer health.
Make sure to check in on yourself from time to time and consciously breath deeply. Do it enough until it becomes a habit.
Real Life Applications
Take your phone away, kill off Internet connection.
Self control declines: do the important early
Self control declines as time goes by, and that’s why it’s important to do the important tasks early. However I have to add here that it also depends in personality (owl VS early birds for example). In my case I do most of my best work during the wee hours.
Make Sure You Breath Deeply
The tendency is to hold our breath or breath shallowly when we sit in front of our computers. I have noticed this on myself, and needless to say this is bad in many ways.
Check in on yourself to make sure you create a habit of proper breathing while in front of your computer. Stand up desks are also a option worth looking into.
I have to be honest: my expectations for Manage Your Day to Day weren’t sky high. I was expecting a book with common knowledge tips on how to organize your day. Which, in big part, it is.
But it also contained a lot of great ideas and some new information that was really helpful.
The biggest nugget of wisdom for me was the breathing pattern in front of the computer. I will be implementing it right away by taking care of my breathing.
So thumbs up here.