What did you get done today?

Pretty simple question…

Did you work on something important or did you procrastinate with Netflix, mindless Google searching and making sure you get to a zero email inbox.

In this article I am going to teach you how to not only be insanely productive, but insanely productive on work that matters.

Intentional Work Is The Practice Of…

  1. Think about a goal that you have
  2. Decide what you will be working on that aligns with your goal
  3. Decide on how long you will work on a task: either 25 or 57 minutes
  4. Avoid distractions
  5. Do your work
  6. Celebrate
  7. Take a break: either 5 or 17 minutes
  8. Repeat

Decide What You Will Work On

Do you have 100 things on your todo list for today?

Ask yourself “what is the most important thing for me to work on next” and do that one item.

Define A Time For Your Work

Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Tell yourself that you only have two hours to write your paper and you will probably get the same quality of work done as if you gave yourself the entire weekend.

Think of the last time you went on vacation. Did you get more done in the few days leading up to it that you did weeks prior?

I know I do.

25/5

The Pomodoro Technique is a technique developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 80s where you work for 25 minutes followed by a 5 minutes break.

At the end of 4 sets, you will take a 15 minutes break.

Another way to visualize it is:

  1. 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break
  2. 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break
  3. 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break
  4. 25 minutes of work followed by a 15-minute break

You then start the entire workflow over again:

  1. 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break
  2. 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break
  3. 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break
  4. 25 minutes of work followed by a 15-minute break

52/17

Some people think that 25 minutes is to short to get into a “state of flow.” If you are unfamiliar with that term, “flow” is a state of being where you feel like the rest of the world disappears and you feel exceptionally creative or productive.

To get into a flow, you first need to lessen any distractions.

When you get distracted, it can take you 25 minutes to regain that flow.

The Muse reported recently that DeskTime.com found that people work best if they use the 57/17 rule (57 minutes of work followed by a 17 minutes break.

57/17 or 25/5

Do you use the 25/5 or 57/17 method?

Test it…

Maybe the 25/5 method will be best for some tasks that feel like “chores” like reconciling your expenses. Then when you are ready to dive into that creative project switch to the 57/17.

In either case, eliminate those distractions.

Other ways you can get into flow include:

  • Close your social media and email
  • Be patient about getting there when you’re first starting to work
  • Make getting enough sleep a habit and a priority
  • Avoid distractions and interruptions
  • Know that flow comes easier when you have challenging tasks and a high level of skill

Focus On One Task At A Time

Some people claim to me “master multi-taskers.” Unfortunately, you are not as good as you may think.

And I can prove it…

Watch this short video and see if you can listen to two stories at once.

If you connect with this video from Darren Hardy, you may also like a few of his other questions:

  1. Do I have a calendar that is fully booked with only my most valuable priorities before my day starts? Create rather than react.
  2. Do I allow too many interruptions to interrupt my flow and deep work concentration? Focus.
  3. Do I talk a lot extending conversations into longer chitchats when it’s unnecessary? Value your time.
  4. Do I multitask? Focus
  5. Do I love the adrenaline buzz of overly busy days? Be organized.
  6. Is living in chaos and constant motion more comfortable than stilling my mind and single-tasking? Focus
  7. Do I find it really difficult to say ‘no’? You don’t need to please everyone.
  8. Do I often find myself in a crunch to finish projects because I’m in over my head? Declare your priorities and adhere to it.
  9. Do I spend hours needlessly on social mediaAvoid distractions.
  10. Do I waste time doing repetitious, non-vital, and inessential tasks? Put systems in place and automate what you can.
  11. Do I maintain control of nearly everything because I believe no one else can do it as well?
  12. Do I believe I can’t afford someone to help me?Source

If you have less than 10 Yes, you have action to take.

Make Good Use Of Your Break Times

Walk

There is a lot to be said about taking a break, even when you are the midst of something really important. I can remember a time when I was neck-deep in a really important problem that was yet to be solved. I took a walk and when I got back to my desk I had a solution. Just getting some air changed things.

20/20/20

Every doctor I have talked to has mentioned that we stare too much at our devices and blink much less than normal. The 20/20/20 is a great hack that will lessen eye strain.

The 20/20/20 means that:

  • Every 20 minutes,
  • Look 20 feet away, and
  • Blink for 20 seconds

Roll Your Shoulders

Since we are hunching a lot these days, we need to do some rehab on our backs to prevent becoming a hunch back. Doing some backward shoulder roles will definitely help here.

Stretch

Some people will also stretch for 20 seconds. This is great because sitting for long periods makes for tight hamstrings.

Putting your arm against a wall is also a great way to stretch and open up your chest.

Finally, Celebrate

Give yourself a pat on the back for doing some great work and staying focused. Professor BJ Fogg, the creator of the Tiny Habit method for behavior change, stresses that emotions are the best way to ground a habit.

Don’t Bring Your Charger

Other people have used a technique like “not bringing your computer charger with you to Starbucks.” This way, you are literally working with a ticking clock.

Install An App

I use Chrome as my way to view the Internet on my computer and use either of these free Chrome Extensions:

FocusMe – INSTALL FREE

Marinara: Pomodoro® Assistant – INSTALL FREE

If you prefer a timer on your phone, you can search “Pomodoro” and find a number of apps for Android or iPhone. I personally don’t use one on my phone because with your phone come one of a hundred other distractions.  So, when I work I try my best to completely shut down.

Work With An Accountability Partner

An accountability partner is someone that you knows what you are working on. A recent study has shown that when you publicly share what you are working on, you have a 65% chance of completing it.

Up to 95% are successful when they pick a specific person for their accountability partner.

If you are a freelancer or work from home, check into an app called FocusMate.com.

If you know some other freelancers, pick a time and either get together or meet over Zoom.

If you are meeting virtually, even if you mute your mic, keep your camera on.

Keeping your camera on creates a shared experience.

Sounds weird, but try it.

Starting Your Work

Whether you are working alone, over Zoom or with a group, set an intention.

An example is, “for the next 25 minutes I am going to work on X.”

The point is not whether or not you can complete it. The point is that you make a decision on what you want to work on.

After 25 minutes, do a check-in (with yourself or others) about what you actually did. Did you get distracted or did you work on your intention?

Lastly, celebrate.

Waiting For Motivation Is A Mistake

But “I am not motivated…”

I am sure you have heard that from someone in the last week.

Motivation isn’t the answer to getting something done. Rather it shows up while we are doing.

William Faulkner is quoted as saying “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes at nine every morning.”

The context behind this is that from 9 until whenever he will find his flow because he has developed a discipline.

“Discipline and constant work are the whetstones upon which the dull knife of talent is honed until it becomes sharp enough, hopefully, to cut through even the toughest meat and gristle.” – Stephen King

Small Wins Add Up

Every task can feel like a mountain. The goal here is that with each work sprint, we get closer and closer to the summit.

Bill Gates once said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

Grit

Dr. Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, is a researcher on the concept of “Grit.”

She defines Grit as “working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failures, adversity, and plateaus in progress.”

Through her research, she has found that Grit is a better indicator of success than talent.

Where Is The Fear?

If this isn’t working for you, it is usually because of fear.

Every time you avoid, procrastinate or get “feel stuck” it is usually because of fear. You may have also have heard this as “paralysis by analysis.”

The most common question author Seth Godin asks is “where is the fear?” It is somewhere and its goal is to create paralysis.

The interesting thing about fear is that we all experience it and everyone can be related to procrastinating.

I laugh every time I watch Tim Urban’s (creator of the blog WaitButWhy.com) Ted Talk because we cal all relate.

Some good questions to ask when you feel like something is holding you back are:

Is it because you’re afraid?

Is it because you’re rationalizing?

Is it because you keep procrastinating?

Use A Spreadsheet

If you want a wakeup call, track your day tomorrow using a spreadsheet and set a timer for 15 minutes. At the end of that 15 minutes write down what you did and whether it aligned with your goals.

Action Is The Answer

No one feels like tackling a mountain but after you start the hike and see the progress you are making, every step gets easier.

If you are stuck just do something.

Anything.

Fold something, do the dishes or make your bed.

Get this first task out of the way and then get to work.

I help entrepreneurs, business owners and freelancers solve problems. Whether you need me to guide you or solve something before me, I’ve got your back. Click here to learn more.
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Wrap-up

  1. Think about a goal that you have
  2. Decide what you will be working on that aligns with your goal
  3. Decide on how long you will work on a task: either 25 or 57 minutes
  4. Avoid distractions
  5. Do your work
  6. Celebrate
  7. Take a break: either 5 or 17 minutes
  8. Repeat