I feel great when I am getting stuff done. Making the hours, days and weeks count. Conversely, if the days roll past and I am not moving forwards I feel... well super frustrated.
Over the years I have tried many different time management techniques. I am a devil for overcomplicating things and a prick to live with when I try and schedule every minute of every day. 20 minutes for sex Jen? Starting in 10? Yeah, you get the idea.
A few years ago I found out about the Pomodoro technique of time management and it really worked for me. However, we are all kings of self-sabotage and just because something works for us and makes us feel great doesn't always mean we continue to do it. Just one of the many quirks of being a human bean.
During lockdown we all had habit and routine change forced upon us. I developed some okay ones but mostly interrupted quite a few that previously had been working really well for me. I started to feel frustrated even a little anxious about my lack of progress in several areas of my life.
My working life had changed, Jen and I were redesigning R1SE, creating awesome courses to help you wonderful people become your best selves and I start consulting to lots of American boutique fitness studios. Basically my work life became more complicated whilst moving home and sharing a small house with 3 young children. Aaaarrrggghhh, just let Dad focus!
So the first thing I did was to analyse just how bad my working habits had become, I divided my day into lot's of 15-minute segments and at the end of each 15 minutes noted down (on a spreadsheet, I friggin' love a spreadsheet) what I had done during that time.
Despite getting up at 5 am I found that I was only being truly productive (from a work perspective) for about 2 hours per day, and that was on a good day. The rest of the time I was just fannying about.
Time to take action! Time for a change! Time to make some new habits. I bloody love building habits.
So I turned to Blinkist, this is an App / Site where they take a whole education book and break it down into a series of Blinks. Every morning I try to listen to some Personal Development, I adore a bit of personal development. So I listened to The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo.
I then combined this with some other tools that I have learned over the years to create a new routine that so far is serving me wonderfully and helping me make huge progress.
So this is my new productivity thing.
I use a Google Sheet to help me, I have told you that I bloody love a spreadsheet.
I then select a task from my spreadsheet. If the task is part of a larger project then make it into a series of smaller tasks. Make that elephant into lots of little bite-sized chunks.
I put my phone onto Do Not Disturb and ensure all notifications on my Mac are stopped, in fact, I have disabled those blighters completely.
I then stick on my Bose-QC30 headphones and play some classical music. This drowns out the noise of my children doing WWF moves on each other and signals to my team to bugger off for 25 minutes.
You must then work on this task for the full 25 minutes if you finish early review it. Don't finish early.
If during the task any distractions appear just note then down on a piece of paper (I use a notebook), try to avoid using your computer or phone as they are riddled with distractions and before you know it you can be sucked in to cat videos.
I found a fabulous free app that I have put on my Mac then works beautifully to control my 25-minute bursts. It is called Be Focused. You can get a paid-for version which removes a bit of advertising but I haven't found it necessary.
I am aiming to do 8 of these bursts each day which is only 3 hours and 20 minutes of focused work but by god, you can achieve a lot in that time if you actually focus!
It is scientifically proven that we can only do about 4 hours of focused creative work per day anyway so no point in try to slog on for too long.
At the end of 3 or 4 bursts go for a longer break, take a walk, make lunch, prepare some awesome healthy food, have a mid-day quickie? (Just checking if Jen reads my blogs).
The next thing I did was not to schedule in advance what tasks I would work on or when I would work on them. I would do what I wanted when I wanted. The only things that I would schedule would be the fun stuff, Jen bedroom at 13:00 for 15 minutes? Or a new walk, brunch out, coffee at the local cafe, R1SE session at the studio or even a sneaky R1SE @ Home Session.
So this is really working for me. I am getting so much more done and am feeling much, much better because I know that I am moving forwards.
The key thing about any routines etc is it is about what works for you, mindfulness really helps here as when you feel a little blue/anxious or frustrated try and reflect on your feelings and triggers and then work on a solution that suits you.