If you are familiar with productivity improvement processes you may be familiar with something called “set up reduction”. It’s used in all sort of industries to enable production to keep flowing as smoothly as possible without having to stop and get set up for the next batch, line, patient or activity.
One of the simplest ways to employ this technique in our working lives is to get ready for our working day the day/night before.
It’s very simple to do.
Simply clear your desk of anything that doesn’t relate to the most important task you will be working on first.
Work on that task first and do nothing else for 45-90 minutes – no phone calls, emails or distractions. Brian Tracy calls this technique “eating frogs”. It’s a memorable way to make sure you get your most important task done first and it’s a fantastic way to feel great for the rest of the day too.
Here is how to get the most from this technique;
Be clear about what your most important task is in advance. This requires some knowledge of your goals and the steps required to make your goals happen.
Work on your most important task before you do anything else – this includes checking emails, text messages, social media, news, listening to the radio, watching TV. If your important task really is important then it deserves your full attention.
Set a timer for 45 minutes initially and work on your most important task and only that. Ensure that there is nothing that could distract you.
Be clear to colleagues, family and friends that you will be working and are not to be disturbed for 45 minutes.
At the end of 45 minutes have a break and review your progress. I am sure you will be surprised at how much you have achieved.
It’s often the one that people find most difficult to put into place because it requires some adjusting of expectations of others and it requires doing things very differently from how we have perhaps done them before.
The first thing is to say relax and go with this technique. My advice would be to schedule in one or two sessions of this in your first week to see how it feels for you. As you experience the heightened productivity this technique brings you will want to do more of it so you can add more times into your schedule and work for longer periods.
Don’t panic. The world is not going to end because you haven’t checked your emails for 45 minutes. It’s amazing how liberating stepping away from email can be. Once you have experienced this I am pretty confident you will want more.
Be polite but firm with colleagues, friends and family. If, like me and many others, you work from home family interruptions can often be the hardest part of this technique. My family are very welcome to call round or phone after 11am. Periodically I have to remind them of this when they start to slip into old ways.
Start small and build up slowly. Working on focussed periods takes practice. I think of it a bit like building up a mental muscle.
Be warned! This technique is seriously addictive. Working on a focussed way will help you achieve the productivity nirvana “flow”. More on that later!
What important task would you like to spend some time working on next week?
How would you feel if you were able to make progress on this activity?
Looking at your diary for next week on what day of the week would you be able to work on this task for 45 minutes in the morning without being interrupted?
Is there anything that is likely to cause difficulty in completing this?
What could you do to reduce this being an issue?
What do you need to do to make sure you have 45 minutes of uninterrupted time to work on this task?