About a month ago, I started using a very simple technique to become more focused on my day-to-day work. Something had been bothering me: I’d get to the end of the day and feel like I had done a lot, but the tasks I really needed to get done often weren’t getting done. I wouldn’t call these days unproductive, but I noticed that some days I was unfocused; just flitting from one task to the next, sometimes stopping right in the middle of a task and jumping into another task. I thought about *why* I had these days and came up with a few possible reasons for these unfocused days:
- I did not have clearly defined tasks
- I started working on non-urgent tasks
- I got distracted from my tasks and never returned to working on them
When I looked at the list I made, it was pretty clear that the days I wasn’t feeling productive stemmed from not having or getting distracted from my list. I recalled reading a good article called The Rule of 3 on A Life of Productivity a while ago. The basic tenet is that every morning, you make a list of three things you want to accomplish and then you do them. I was mostly doing this in Trello; I have my “Actions” list ordered by priority. But, I knew this wasn’t cutting it. There are a lot of times I don’t have a web browser open and, if I do have a browser open, it’s not open to the Trello tab. So, I started writing my “Top 3” on a Post-In note and putting the note directly on my laptop (just to the right of my touchpad) or right next to my laptop.
Sometimes I make my task list for the following day before I stop work for the evening. It feels good to know I’ve already defined my tasks for the next work day. Having my list front and center means I always have my clearly defined tasks and if I find myself getting off-task, it only takes a glance down at my list to remind myself of what I *should* be working on.