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Productivity tip

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Tuesday March 6, 2007 )

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to get solid chunks of time to focus on any single task these days; many items are completed in a piecemeal fashion, creating multiple tasks that need to be remembered.

I’ve noticed myself getting a little disorganized over the last couple of years. I settle into a task then an IM pops up, urgent email comes through, phone rings, Outlook reminders flashing – multiple distractions; and then it takes a while to get back into the “zone” again – if I can remember what I was doing. Or I might simply hit a brick wall in what I was doing and can’t proceed until I’ve consulted the provider, client, merchant, partner or whomever.

Ah yes, I’m not alone am I? Seems to be the curse of the modern age.

With all these distractions and obstacles, even relatively simple and quick tasks can fall by the wayside in a “always on” world – like completing an email.

Ever noticed how little jobs can suddenly seem like big jobs if they are ignored for too long? They mount up and are forgotten among the other larger tasks. For instance, an account you forget to pay, an inquiry you forget to follow up on – that sort of thing. Before you know it, there’s a big pile of things to do and it all seems overwhelming.

Maybe you only get 10 minutes between meetings and you’re left staring at the screen, thinking it’s not worthwhile getting into anything, so you may as well head out to YouTube as all the little tasks you could get done have suddenly escaped your mind.

I think some of it’s because recall is better when you physically write something down; even better than typing it out – but the latter is certainly far better than trying to memorize tasks when you’re already suffering from information overload.

Here’s a quick tip that may help your productivity. I can’t remember where I picked it up as I was zapping between web sites at the time, but I wish I had bookmarked the site. Eh, but then I’d need to remember which bookmark folder I put it in.. aaaaaagh :).

Like most good tips, it’s very simple … and low tech; no complex time management or productivity software necessary.

Create lists for 5 minute, 10 minute and 30 minute tasks – items you can get done in those time frames. Something as simple as a *single* notepad file on your desktop will do the trick; just break it up into sections. That way, when a small gap in your schedule opens up between larger tasks, you can attend to a few smaller items. At the end of the day, you’ll have a greater sense of accomplishment – and those accomplishments translate to a more profitable online business and a saner you.

The challenging bit is remembering to add items – and remember, not every minute of the day needs to be task oriented, do let your brain cool off from time to time as that can also help your overall productivity.


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