Can Beat the Week Help You Get More Done?
This is Week 23 of a Year of Living Productively
This week I tested whether attempting to get a week’s worth of work done by Thursday (what I called Beat the Week) would help me get more done. 99u calls it “reward efficiency.” The motivation was to have time at the end of the week to do what I wished.
How Beat the Week Saved My Sanity This Week
- The weekly planning focused my efforts. A number of productivity hacks I’ve tested have made me a believer in reviewing the week ahead. It helps me feel on top of things.
- Helped me keep my expectations realistic. As I considered what I could really do in a week (a short week no less), I was reminded of how important this is for me to learn. I always think I can squeeze a year’s worth of activities into a week.
How Beat the Week Made Me Crazy This Week
- Hard to maintain a closed list. I didn’t add new tasks to the week’s list, but they appeared and had to be done anyway. Even though I made progress, I didn’t feel like I was because of the other work I had to do.
- I had a singular focus this week. I have an international house guest arriving this week and I found myself ignoring my list in favor of getting ready for his arrival. The list actually annoyed me like a distraction.
- I felt like I was cheating. Because I didn’t do a good job of keeping my list manageable (especially in light of pressing commitments), I found myself postponing tasks I had included on the list. I didn’t feel I deserved the reward of time off since I hadn’t actually completed those tasks and quite frankly I gave up. I completed the most important tasks on time, but this felt due to the impending arrival of our guest more than anything.
Did Beat the Week Help Me Get Things Done?
Not really. I did work hard this week to get things done by Thursday, but not because I wanted time off. I really won’t get time off as I have an out-of-town trip and two big parties to get ready for. It wasn’t the best week to test this approach. I also think this approach could be useful in helping me be realistic about what I can get done. However, scheduling a la SmartPad already works for me in this regard.
The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 24
This week I’ll be testing a Productivity Ritual. Simple Productivity Blog offers three aspects to a ritual that can help us get more done: clearing the mind, gathering the materials, and resetting/shifting. For me, this is different than the morning ritual because it is done prior to each work period.
The concept. Clearing the mind helps to maintain focus on the task at hand as does some kind of a resetting ritual. Because I change activities several times throughout the day, I can benefit from this. I am going to pray before I begin a new activity period to satisfy both of these components. Not only will I be forced to focus on the anticipated work, but I should have a better attitude about the work.
The final aspect of a productivity ritual that I’m really excited about is gathering materials. Here’s why I’m so eager. I am one of the children’s worship leaders at my church and until recently I had begun to dread my week to serve. Pulling craft and music materials out of the cabinet was risky because it was stuffed and disorganized and nothing had been prepared in advance. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when a new coordinator took over. Not only were all the supplies organized, but everything was set up and ready for me to use. I enjoyed leading so much in this environment that I told the coordinator I would serve more often.
The takeaway for me is that I am more productive (and happier) when I have what I need ready to go. I do this when I cook, but rarely when I work. For example, I will sit down to write a week’s worth of blog posts for The Inspired Day and realize that my blogging notebook is not on my desk. Rather than run to get it, I skip planning a week’s worth of posts at once, losing time in the process.
If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read Simple Productivity Blog’s post on a productivity ritual. Decide how you will clear your mind and reset between activities and pledge to gather materials before you begin.
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If you’ve tried Beat the Week to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.
Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far: