One of the things that I have been thinking a lot about lately is productivity. Not that I am a slacker by any means, but several things are going on in my life right now that make upping my productivity game a necessity. One of my colleagues has decided to leave the company. That means that until his replacement is found and up to speed, I will be a one-woman show. I will be moving to a new apartment in just about a month, and so that means I have lots of purging and packing to do at home. On top of all of that, I have at least two trips between now and then, so yeah, my plate runneth over.
There are a couple of prevailing trends in productivity right now. One is the Eat the Frog theory. This is based on the Mark Twain quote, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” As the quote describes, this theory says that you should do the biggest, hardest, yuckiest thing on your list first. Once the worst thing is crossed off of your list, it is easier to roll through the remaining items because it is all downhill from there.
This is a concept that definitely works for me when I have something on my list that I really don’t want to do. For me some examples are:
· Redlining contracts
· Cleaning the bathrooms
· Giant, detailed analysis projects
· Expense reports
In most cases if one of these things is on my list and really needs to be done, I better make myself eat that frog first thing in the morning; otherwise I will do my best to procrastinate until the last minute. Plus, when I procrastinate, it is always on my mind - mental burden to carry until it is done.
Another theory of productivity is to Build Momentum in your day. This theory says that one success will build upon another until what seems impossible is achievable. The idea that small wins lead to big wins. We begin to feel productive and that desire to achieve becomes satisfied.
For me, whereas the Eat the Frog theory works when I am procrastinating, the Build Momentum theory creates a sense of drive through the day and gives me a lot more gratification at the end of the day. Some examples of momentum builders for me are:
· Showering and getting fully dressed first thing in the morning
· Having a clean work space – whether it is the kitchen counter or my desk
· A clean house
· Crossing things off my to do list
· Making a plan
· Quick household clean-ups before bed
· Brainstorming with someone
There is almost nothing that gives me as much satisfaction as organizing, completing, and creating white space. So it isn’t a shock that all of my momentum builders are along those lines. These are the things that make the day fly by and give me a feeling of fulfillment.
Lately, when I start my day I have been really focusing in on how I am going to approach what needs to be done this particular day. Will it be an Eat the Frog day or a Momentum Building day? I have had both this week, and can say that approaching them intentionally with one of those specific strategies has been very helpful. It helps me focus in on the most important thing and creates purpose behind my actions.
There are days when getting “getting it over with” is the best course of action, and there are some days when the most productive thing I can do is to build on the small successes. These are both entirely different concepts with the same result of increased productivity.