Following my last Happy at home post’s reference to that wonderful TEX Talk on procrastination https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_urban_inside_the_mind_of_a_master_procrastinator, this post continues the theme of ‘getting things done’.
Below are five tools, hacks, tricks – whatever you like to call them – for doing something you probably don’t want to. It could be a difficult phone call, or an e-mail you need to take time to plan carefully. Or maybe your head is spinning with ‘things to do’ and you can’t decide what to do first.
The Pomodoro technique
Named after the kitchen timer (shaped like a tomato – pomodoro in Italian) that belonged to the Italian inventor of the Pomodoro technique https://lifehacker.com/productivity-101-a-primer-to-the-pomodoro-technique-1598992730
The idea is that you break down the time you give to your task into short chunks – 25 minutes works for me – with a short break (5 minutes) in between each chunk. Every 4 chunks (so after two hours) you take a longer break. For me this gets over the thought of having to sit down for a solid two-hour slog – 25 minutes is a much more manageable prospect for getting me started.
Imagine you’re about to write an e-mail, a letter, make a phone call, or design a poster. How do you start planning what to say? One way is to use AIDA which stands for…
Action: Think what’s going to interest the recipient? Grab their attention? In the case of an e-mail it could be a clear, concise, but positive message in the subject box.
Interest: Building on the attention-grabber, how can you keep their interest and attention? Think of the other person when writing this – why do they want to hear what you have to say?
Desire: Spell out another part of your message that’s going to interest the reader – explain how they can benefit by responding to your communication
Action: Be clear about what they should do next – how they could/should contact you (by phone, by e-mail, or how?)
This technique is traditionally used for writing publicity materials, but I’ve been using it for planning all sorts of communications for years. You’ll find more details here https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/AIDA.htm
The Pareto Principle
Also known as ‘the 80:20 rule’, this principle is over 120 years old.
Broadly speaking it says that just 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. In other words, if you have a to-do list with 10 tasks, two of those tasks will account for 80 percent of the value of what you do.
For using your time well, the trick is to work out which those two tasks are, and to get them done first! This in turn depends on knowing what each task is meant to achieve. This article explains more https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/331703
Begin your day with the hardest task
You have a list of things to do, but one of them is worrying you more than the others. It might be a difficult phone call, an application that needs to be just right, or a meeting you’ve been putting off for a while.
The best advice is to tackle that task first. The temptation is to put it to one side (hoping it will go away) but, more often than not, it nags away in the back of your mind and can ruin your day.
In my experience, the ‘hard task’ is often not as bad as I thought it would be; in my mind I’ve made it more challenging than it turned out to be. If it goes badly, at least it’s out of the way, if it goes well, it’s downhill all the way.
One thing to add – if your task involves writing and you can leave your written work over night, for a final check before you send it off the next day, you’ll often see improvements to make when you read it again in the morning.
A simple but effective technique for sorting your to-do list tasks into what’s urgent and what’s important, and then deciding which to do first (and which to cross off the list!)
Draw a matrix with urgent along one axis and important along the other and then place each task in one quadrant of your matrix – depending on how important/urgent it is.
For example, if you’re overdue by a month on checking that your fire extinguisher is working OK, it’s important rather than urgent to get it checked. But if your front door lock is broken, getting it fixed is both urgent and important. So, your matrix might look like this…
More on the urgent-important matrix (also called the Eisenhower Matrix) is here https://www.developgoodhabits.com/eisenhower-matrix
PREP: 20 MINS COOK: 10 MINS MAKES 35-40 MINI BISCUITS
- 60g cocoa powder, sieved
- 200g caster sugar
- 60ml vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 180g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 35g icing sugar
- Mix the cocoa, caster sugar and oil together. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking until fully combined.
- Stir the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt together in a separate bowl, then add to the cocoa mixture and mix until a soft dough forms. If it feels soft, transfer to the fridge and chill for 1 hr. Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Tip the icing sugar into a shallow dish. Form a heaped teaspoon of the dough into a ball, then roll in the sugar to coat. Repeat with the remaining dough, then put, evenly spaced, on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 10 mins – they will firm up as they cool. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool. Will keep for four days in a biscuit tin
See other posts in this ‘Happy at home’ series here https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/happy-at-home