If you are a regular reader of the blog, you already know that I’m a staunch advocate of waking up early, so much so that I even have a course on it. One of the big reasons why I value getting up early is that I can do early in the morning things that are important to me before the day begins and other tasks and distractions come creeping in. Even with the best of intentions, our days can easily get highjacked by an email, a phone call, a knock on the office door, etc.
I am currently listening to an audiobook called “The One Thing.” It is probably the best productivity book I’ve read in the past few years. In this book, the author Gary Keller is also a staunch advocate of the philosophy of “the earlier, the better.” Reading this book has nicely coincided with some changes to my daily schedule that I have been trying hard to implement in my own day to day.
Basically, what has often happened with my day is that it can get side-tracked or high-jacked with other administrative tasks. And this happens as soon as I walk into my office. Now, of course, I need to check my email and tasks need to be done, but my intention when walking into the office almost always disappeared or was altered quite quickly. My main problem was (and still is) this - I believed that, if I could get those little administrative tasks done, the rest of my day will be freed up so that I can get to what matters most. Reality check! Things don’t work like that. Instead, administrative tasks and other calls for your time will expand to fit the available space. What we need to do is flip our day, so that the most important things are done first. There are two primary solutions that Keller suggests, and that I had already begun on working to implement:
- Do your most important thing(s) as early in your day as you can
- Create time blocks in your day – with the first one(s) being devoted to your most important thing(s)
Over the past few months, I’ve been working to implement a different routine into my day which builds off of these two ideas. Previous to this, the first thing I usually did upon arrival was check email, and responding (if it would take 2 minutes or less) or leaving it to deal with at a later time. I then would tackle some other small tasks in my to-do list that I know I needed to do, as well as any necessary paperwork. I confess to you that this has been my routine for so long, that I am having a lot of trouble breaking this habit.
The problem, like I mentioned earlier, is that this email and admin time quickly expands, sometimes filling my entire day. This ends up being incredibly frustrating on some days, as I come to work with good intentions to get some reading/research/writing done, and leave having done none of it. The administrative work expands when I let it have my focus first thing in the day.
But today is a new day, and the book by Keller has given me a renewed resolve to aggressively block my time. I want to intentionally give top priority to my most important things as early as I can in my day. My daily schedule goals which I have been working on are:
- Not opening email when I first come in
- Start my hour of academic reading first thing
- Follow that with an hour of research and writing
This is a huge work in progress for me. I so easily get carried away with other admin duties. But this is the goal I’m working towards. What about you? What part of your day needs to be flipped?
photo credit: Truckfest via photopin (license)