Working backward; moving forward

This week, a lot of you were excited about the post we did on Fixed Schedule Productivity, which is all about working backward from your goals. With this method:

  • You focus in on a short list of goals, then
  • Re-visit them each day to prioritize your to-do list
  • Fit the top priorities into your set schedule--everything else is cut. 

So many of us (present company included) get caught up in a whirlwind of reacting to things because our brains get a little tickle from responding to and receiving emails, texts, and social media messages. But at the end of the day, it can feel like you've run around in circles rather than getting to your next destination. 

Fixed Schedule Productivity relies on focus and your ability not to feel the pressure to respond every time someone pokes you. The originator of the idea, Cal Newport, has these suggestions:

  • Work on one thing at a time. Stop multitasking! Close those browser windows! Focus in on what's at hand, do it well, and then move on to other projects.
  • Be clear when setting expectations. Are people at work trying to slip things into your to-do list? Be clear about when you expect to get to it--and be generous with yourself. This one is all about boundary setting. 
  • Say no. Doesn't align with any of your goals? Buh-bye.
  • Be unavailable. An entrepreneur we know puts a message at the bottom of his emails that reads, "I check emails at 10am and 5pm daily." In between those hours, don't expect to hear from him. The same goes for the time you're OFF the clock--protect your time by going silent. 
  • Stick to a schedule for recurring tasks. For example, ever since we chose Tuesday mornings to write these newsletters, it's been so much more fun to plan, write, and edit them. Not only does this step make it easier to remember things, it also gives you more space to begin thinking about them rather than hurriedly jumping in at the last minute. 

This idea reminded us of the awesome work-life balance of the Scandinavian countries, which we keep reading about everywhere.

Check out this article that compares Brits to Danes, which points out that working longer hours doesn't necessarily equal more success. It's also interesting that, in Denmark, success is exhibited in the way you spend your leisure time. 

We could go on and on, but we'll end here. If you give Fixed Schedule Productivity a try, give us a shout and let us know how it's working for you. And this weekend, don't forget to enjoy these long, warm days!