Today, I want to introduce you to two different productivity tips that have really changed the way I work. The ratio of these tips is both 1:1 of process and state of mind. This means you need to trust in the system and approach the situation correctly.
The 3-minute rule
Our days are filled with problems, some small and some big. Some take 2 hours, and a team of minds to solve, and some are objectively easy to solve. Ironically, the small tends to feel very big when we are stressed. This is because 15 small things quickly takes more than a 2-hour task. And the stress just increases as our to-do list just keeps growing. The 3-minute rule helps eliminate the small sources of stress so you can allocate your energy and thought to the bigger problems while giving your brain a little boost of happiness every time you accomplish something. The 3-minute rule can be applied to anything, and everything - both work and at home.
So, what is the rule? If it takes less than 3 minutes, do it now. This one is so simple it hurts.
It feels silly, right? But when applied, it increases productivity and eliminates the “chaos” of the day. Instead of ignoring your email all day, only checking it once or twice, complete/reply to/work on the emails that have actionables that would take less than 3 minutes. This could mean moving the email details over to your task management system with a due date, or marking it complete and moving it to the appropriate folder. Your inbox will be less scary, I promise.
At home, perhaps you walk past a pile of shoes by the door every day. Every day you think to yourself about how you hate that pile of shoes, how it makes your otherwise tidy mud room look messy, and how a pair of shoes an insurmountable quest. Take the 3 minutes it would take to line them up or place them in a bin. Done; stress is gone, messy mudroom looks tidy again, you actually alternate the shoes you wear because you can find them.
You, of course, could change it to the 5-minute rule, or the 2-minute rule. Whatever works best for your personality and schedule. The main goal here is that instead of ignoring the small things, do them immediately. Clear the clutter, and reduce the stress. 5 emails will always be easier than 50.
Just one bite
Ever heard the phrase “How do you eat an elephant?”? The answer is just one bite!
In your large projects or sources of stress, don’t consider the entire project (elephant) at once. Break it down into more consumable (see what I did there?), bite-sized pieces. Let’s use email as the example again, since most people struggle with it.
Example: Your inbox is bursting at the seams, and you can barely stand to open it it's so scary. Instead of dedicating an entire day to getting through every single email, while other tasks pile up and projects go undone, block out a small time frame to work on it. 15 minutes extra every day for a week will solve the problem without all the nasty side effects.
Is a junk drawer in your kitchen mocking your every time you walk past it? Instead of doing the entire drawer at once, make a goal to sort 2 things a day until the drawer is clean.
Both of these are so easy, but will only work if you trust the process! You will get lots of small victories along the way to the end goal.
I really hope you apply one or both of these to your daily life in some way. It really helps when you view the tasks around you in a different light, and the chaos falls away.