At Personal Workflow we have organised workshops, full day courses and individual follow-ups of 8 years. We’ve talked to a lot of intelligent knowledge workers who have been in need of a helping hand with their workflow and work habits. One of the most frequently asked questions at our courses and workshops is: “I want to be able to relax in my weekend without thinking of work. Are there any low hanging fruit I can work with, which makes me more effective in my everyday life so I can relax more in my weekend?
We always finish our courses and workshops with the following recommendation: “If I were you, I would pick one thing that I want to implement over the next 2-3 weeks. If it was me who had to choose one thing, I would choose … “. We then list a number of low-hanging fruit that anyone can succeed in the short and long term. In this post we share 5 of the low-hanging fruit that we recommend.
2 minute rule
One of the easiest low-hanging fruits we recommend is the 2-minute rule. The 2-minute rule is fairly simple: Assess whether a task takes more or less than 2 minutes to solve. If the task takes less than 2 minutes to solve, get it done immediately. The 2 minutes rule is especially effective when handling e-mails. Make it a habit that every time you get an email you evaluate whether it takes less than 2 minutes to solve. If so, then there is no reason to leave it nor write it on a to-do list. When implementing the 2 minute rule you will feel that you get more done, which is a satisfying feeling.
We have written and told about ‘mind-dumps’ several times before (Lately in a discussion on our forum in Danish). A mind dump is the time where you get all your tasks, ideas and thoughts out of your mind and written down on a piece of paper (.. or a note program such as Evernote). We recommend that you spend 10 minutes everyday where you get all your tasks written down. Maybe you have received some tasks from colleagues you need to write down. It might also be the case that you came up with a few tasks yourself, which you have to solve. Remembering tasks is not the way to go. Write them down and prioritise them.
I’m sure you know the feeling. You are focused on a specific task when all of a sudden you receive a notification in the top right corner of your screen. If you are like most other knowledge workers you receive more than 20 emails a day. It has been estimated that every time we are interrupted it takes 2 minutes on average to get back to our original thoughts. 20 emails times 2 minutes is 40 wasted minutes a day. Turn off your notifications in Outlook. You can do it in less than two minutes and you can see the result immediately.
Everything in one place
If you have participated in one of our workshops or full day courses you have definitely heard this before. We recommend that you always collect all your tasks in one single task list. You don’t need to use all the latest task management software and you don’t have to do it on a computer. What’s most important is that you have one list, and one list only, where you collect all your tasks. You can do it in Word, Excel, by hand or another alternative solution. We have jotted down a few notes about it here for your inspiration.
Organise your desk
The last low hanging fruit we always recommend to our workshop participants is to organise their desk. It seems like a small and insignificant aspect of productivity but it can make a world of a difference. Even though we are not aware of it our brain is scanning our desk constantly. You have a better chance of staying focused when there are no piles of paper, post-it notes or other things laying around. Give it a shot. Clean your desk and try to keep it organised for one month. You will notice that it will push you in the right direction.
As we always mention during our courses: “Pick one or two things on the list and try it”. You cannot implement all the healthy habits immediately. Start small, see the results and then pick up the next good habits. If you have any questions let us know.