How I doubled my productivity with just 15 minutes a week
Every Sunday night, I find myself motivated by the thought of a perfectly productive week ahead of me. Yet, come Monday morning, my world is chaos and those nice thoughts go out the window. Before I know it, the week has passed me by entirely and things definitely did not go as planned. And, of course, the next week I’ll hope for the best again.
Being productive is reliant on essentially one thing: proper planning.
Really, if you look closely, all productivity apps and systems are actually just planning apps and systems.
I decided that instead of just jumping into each day, applying some of the “101 best productivity tips” and simply hoping for the best, I’d focus on one thing: proper planning.
I started with the most basic of productivity tools: lined paper.
Here’s the system I created, which only takes me 15 minutes to run through every Monday morning, before I start on anything else. (I’ll tell you later on how it went.)
5 minutes reflecting:
I spend my first five, uninterrupted minutes taking a look at my emails, messages, Google Drive, Hibox, etc. I reflect on what got done, what was discussed, and what didn’t get done the previous week. I write it all out: what I should have gotten done, what I could have done, what I want to get done, and what absolutely needs to get done. I think about upcoming deadlines and projects, and what I should be getting done to work towards and accomplish them this week.
5 minutes planning:
Next, I pick the top ten ‘big’ tasks that I need to get done that week. But – crucially – no more than ten. I take a look at my weekly calendar and schedule them throughout the week. The magic number that works for me is aiming to complete two ‘big’ tasks per day, and scheduling a break in between them. Looking at my week from this perspective makes my tasks and goals seem completely manageable. I feel confident, which helps me battle the inevitable procrastination that I often face. I normally procrastinate when I fear I have too much to do (which I recognize is completely irrational, yet annoyingly common). However, I don’t just tack on the same tasks day after day and hope it all somehow gets done by the end of the week. I make myself a clear – although rough – game plan from the beginning. And, wow, does it make a difference.
5 minutes communicating:
The final five minutes is what gives me the push to get it all started. After taking a look at my plan for the week ahead, I vocalize it to everyone involved and make sure to include details and deadlines. There is something about vocalizing deadlines that makes them feel much more real. There’s certainly an instant boost of motivation and accountability when you know that others are aware of your deadlines, as well. For example, I will send a weekly agenda of my tasks via email to individuals, or a message on Hibox to my teams on each of my projects, so they know what they can expect from me that week. Knowing my coworkers are expecting me to complete certain tasks helps me pick my feet up and get started right away. It’s an extra boost of motivation each day.
It’s simple, and it’s incredibly rudimental, but this has been one of the best productivity tips that I’ve implemented this year. It’s one of very few that has truly made a huge impact, and I’ve stuck to doing it week after week. I find that I’m most organised and productive when I physically write things out on paper, but there are plenty of apps you can use to organize your week as well. Even a basic Google Calendar with tasks and deadlines – that you can easily share with others – can work wonders.