You know what I like about each new day? More stuff to do. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, I like to do stuff, and, even more than doing it, I love the feeling of getting it done. It is like, “hey, you do that thing.” “Oh, yes, it is done.” And it feels delicious. Sometimes getting things done is more of a challenge on some days which is okay. I want to discuss a few of the problems and a few methods on how to change our situation to the more productive route. See the bottom for the “GSD Version of this Post.”
The Common Offenders and Perpetrators
The number one enemy is the internet. Turn off your social networks while at work unless it is part of your job. Social media is a complete waste of time while at work. There is nothing that could not be said a few hours after it has been tweeted, shared, liked, licked, eaten, blown up, exploded, etc. Get rid of it. We are obese content consumers. We eat it up; content is so damn tasty. Nom nom nom! I fall privy to this problem and try to cure myself a little bit every day. As much as I love Reddit and similar sites, they are not for the good of the productive. Also, Lifehacker is a horrible waste of time. Do not do it. Any of those articles can be summarized in a tweet.
Fear is another motivation for procrastination, and you must defeat it. You must set it ablaze with your courageous attitude of getting shit done. If you are afraid to do something, get it done faster. Take the shot in your arm, leg, butt, and roll with it. The faster you address a problem the faster it goes away. Several of the dudes I like to follow (e.g. Tim Ferriss) frequently talk about confronting your fears by just doing it. If you are fearful of something, it is most likely irrational so stop thinking about it and kill it with completion.
Funny enough, trying to become more productive oftentimes is a culprit for losing efficiency and productivity. There are so-called “hackers,” and they just go overboard on all of these tools and other crap. Guess what? You become so overloaded with your hacks that you are worse off than the guy who does not even know how to handle their personal schedule. Say you are a bowman on a castle wall! Sweet, you are an archer! You and another archer sit on the wall all day. He has his arrows just laying out everywhere and is never ready for battle. On the other hand, you spend your entire day building a machine that will shoot your arrows for you, but, when it comes time to battle, you fire off as few arrows as Sir Herpaderp down a few bricks from you.
The Wisdom of a Scribe and Their Tomes
So, I absolutely love writing things down. Nowadays when nearly everything feels typed, I write as much as I can on a pad and paper. This might not work for everyone, but, when I write things down or draw a picture, I can more easily recall it than something I read online. Try it out and see if it works for you, but, instead of scrambling for files on the internet or scouring my desktop, I have it on a page in a notebook. Recall and location is key when trying to access information that you stored for later usage. Plus, doodling in a boring meeting is a life saver (albeit not as tasty).
Cut It Up and Make a Tasty List Sandwich
Write a list of what you need to be done tomorrow. Just have it ready before the morning. If you have that list, you will always have something to go back to if you are at a loss for what you should be doing. Having that reference lets you know what you thought was important previously but may be struggling to remember. You do not even need to prioritize at this point in time. Start writing lists of stuff that just needs to get done. And do it. Do it quick. Do it as soon as possible. You will feel like the Flash. You will turn back time. You will all of a sudden have too much time on your hands. You will become so focused that nothing else will matter to you except for defeating your list. Do whatever it takes to get the list complete. Some people are into rewards and positive reinforcement. Treat yourself, sure. While I do not think negative reinforcement is as effective long-term, do it if you need a kick in the ass.
Prioritize Like a 911 Dispatcher
All right, so if you know what you need to do but do not know what order to do it in, you have to work on prioritization a little bit. I promise you though that 99% of the time it does not matter what order you do something. Completing a mission is normally more important than when you got there or how you got there unless there is a fire. If there is a fire, you address that right then and there. You get on it. You become the super hero. Here are the rules on how to prioritize (JUST FOUR, YOU CAN DO IT): take care of the fires (in the case of multiple fires, take one minute per fire to assess its importance versus another fire and rank them), take care of tasks that are due within the next day or two, take care of the list, anything else goes on the list for tomorrow. Do one, two, three, and four, and you will be a happy person walking out that door.
Separation of Church and State
As much as I would like to address church and state here, I mean something else: home and work. You have to keep them separate. If you are working at home, then, sure, things are going to melt together a little bit. But, when you do not have to work at home, you keep work far, far away from home. You put a restraining order on that beast. Once I am in my car and headed home, I cleanse my mind of the day. The reason I do not think about work at home is because it allows me to become a workhorse the next day at the job. I am completely focused and energized. I am not exhausted from a whole evening about worrying about this client or that deliverable. No, I am ready to defeat any enemy that comes before my path. While I am not good at meditating, I have done it a few times, and it has helped me. I always lighter after a few minutes of listening to good music and not thinking about anything at all. The vice versa is the same. Yes, we have our families and business at home, and I believe, to the best of our ability, we try to keep it there. I want to appreciate the people at each of those separate entities to the maximum of my ability, and it has greatly increased my effectiveness at being a worker, husband, son, uncle, and brother.
Get the Worm for Breakfast
Breakfast might be the most important meal, but it is not near as important as it being the best time to get shit done. Most people do not seem to be morning people and that is okay. Wake up when is appropriate for you. If you are keen on working at home (and can separate the two effectively in your mind), knock out a few of those pesky tasks in the morning. Once you hit the desk at work, pound out that list. Just get on it. When you have a list of tasks already prepared, you are focused. You know what you need to do, and you immediately pursue their completion. You are the hungriest beast of delectable task completion. Headphones + your favorite music + list = success!
Use Utensils When at a Content Meal
In order to read all the “important” stuff you miss during the day, there are multiple ways to curate your own content. Make sure you are using filters on your Gmail. If you get annoying e-mails that really are not important to you, make sure you unsubscribe to as much as you can or that it goes straight to your archives.
Set up Google Alerts for specific keywords using advanced search queries. I find these to be all right but less focused than I would like. You can set the frequency of these e-mails. If your topic is talked about less, then the frequency can be slower than hot topics.
Create a Twitter account and use it like a news feed which is how I have been using my Twitter account for the most part. While I am not the most active guy on Twitter, I could easily look at my feed and see only tweets from people I know will only give me the highest quality of content. Basically, you use the leaders of your field to curate the content for you. I find this to be highly effective. Even though I have not used this method on other forms of social media, I imagine it would work similarly on Facebook (though less effectively) and Google+.
The internet is a filled up place now with lots of content. Let us say that over half of that content is utter crap. Once you have your curation methods in place, I am certain that you are still going to get some terrible, terrible posts or information in your feeds. Take your list of URLs, plop them into Ontolo’s URL reviewer (good god, y’all! That thing rules!), and open up the pages. Read the headings. That is it. Go through each one, and you can probably get through each page in less than ten seconds. If you deem it worthy of reading and need to read more than the headings, keep the tab open. Otherwise, you close that beast (CTRL+W) and move on to the next one. I do not feel like I have ever missed out on a good post using the heading-reading method (what a wretched name, suggestions?).
When watching videos, use the Wadsworth Constant always unless you are listening to music. It will work.
A Less Verbose Conclusion
There are a few things I would like to mention and might like to talk about at a later date. Batching is extremely effective, but you have to know how to batch. It is worth practicing, but you will not be very efficient when you first start doing it. Learning how to apply the Pareto Principle can help you with everything in your life. And Parksinson’s law is very real and very effective. Now that I think of it, yes, I would like to talk about those more, but I have a few things left on my list to knock out. Let’s get some shit down, brethren.
The GSD Version of the Post:
Turn off social media and ignore everything on the internet that does not help you do your job. Do it now as fast and effectively as you can. Make lists. Complete the list. Separate work and home.
The Getting Shit Done Manifesto
I, [your name], refuse to recite a long manifesto because I am now focused on my next task. I rule today and will forever.