Recently I’ve been evaluating not only WHAT I do, but WHEN I do it. I’m finding that I’m much more productive at certain tasks when I perorm them at certain times. Like the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything.”
For a long time now I’ve woke up generally around 5am. I would empty my tickler file, process my desktop inbox, process my email inbox and a few other inputs first thing in the morning. I had even blogged about my daily pre-flight checklist. After getting all my inputs to zero base I would then work off my lists until I had to start getting ready for my full-time job around 7:15am.
With this system and timing, I was doing real good at keeping my mind empty and keeping my system in order. However, when it came time to actually WORK, I seemed to spend most of my time handling the smaller tasks that I had just noted rather than working on the big projects that were actually much more important.
I do my @Home processing in the evenings now. I used to spend most of my evening time catching up on blogs , newsletters, and such. I don’t care for television, but my wife likes it, so I could catch up on blogs on the iBook while sitting on the couch next to her and we could still share some time together. I still do that, but I now have a priority to do my daily processing during this time. My checklist looks like this now:
- Update Journal
- Empty Tomorrow’s Desktop Tickler File
- Process @HomeTickler for tomorrow
- Process OP Loftbed Email
- Process Desk Inbox
- Process Email Inbox
- Process Palm and Phone notes
- Read WeeklyCompass for direction to…
- Plan tomorrow morning and evening time
- Email Tiddklywiki to self as backup (or copy to iDisk)
- Write a blog entry
Once I’ve done this, I still manage to knock out several of those small tasks that don’t require a lot of energy or time. The most important thing next to making sure that all my open loops are captured is planning what I will work on the next morning (and sometimes the next evening too).
I still get up around 5am but I don’t want to start doing serious knowledge work as soon as I rise, however. Now, I will read a book as soon as I get up. I’ll typically read something for 15-20 minutes to get my mind working. A couple weeks ago I read Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morganstern and now I’m reading her book Organizing from the Inside Out. After I read a section or chapter in something like this, my mind is moving and I’m awake enough to share some quality time with my Lord—this may be a combination of reading His Word, Prayer, and other spiritual growth books—I’m currently reading With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray.
After this, I’m now ready to get into my home office and do “real work” until I have to start getting ready at 7:15. I don’t check email or any other inputs but just get right to work. I typically have an hour to an hour-and-half of focused productive time—and I’m not spending it on small things that just came up, like I used to. I’m making progress on my bigger and more important projects.
The evenings is a great time for me to read short works like news briefs and most blog postings, but it is a terrible time for me to attempt to read books. Now I’m found time even for that in my mornings. All the way around I’m doing more of what I want and need to be doing. It’s like getting an extra hour or so each day.
This system may not work at all for you, but I think you owe it to yourself to seriously spend some time asking yourself the following question and experimenting with some changes: “Am I doing all my tasks at the optimum time for me?” I look forward to hearing how you reorganize your schedule after this evaluation.