The Week published an interesting article sharing the ideas of professor and author Cal Newport, who explains that time management is key to increasing productivity while still being able to leave the office on time each night. We’d like to share some of his advice here:
Scrap the To-Do list, schedule instead
According to Professor Newport, to-do lists are pointless if the items aren’t paired with time slots in which to actually accomplish the task. Scheduling tasks allows you to have a realistic view of the time each actually takes. You can you get more done by scheduling rather than allowing tasks to seem unending because they have no defined time limit. Assigned work times also reduce the urge to procrastinate, as downside of derailing your allotted time outweighs the desire to waste time.
Assume you’re going home on time, then plan day backwards
By planning your day so you are guaranteed to leave on time, you are forced to cut out unnecessary tasks and time-wasters when the alternative is a clear need to stay late. When the carrot of the end-goal is dangling in front of you as you plan your day, it becomes a lot easier to maximize production, knowing the risk of overscheduling or taking on too much will result in a late return home.
Plan for the entire week
It sounds both easy and difficult, but once you get into the habit of planning out your week on a Monday morning, it becomes routine. For example, if Fridays are typically quiet, use that time for organizational or busywork tasks that aren’t on a specific timeline. This opens up space on a busier day of the week to spend time more productively.
Do less, but do it well
Professor Newport argues that people these days are stretched too thin, taking on too many inessential obligations and then working crazy hours to keep up. Professor Newport’s argument is that workers need to assess the obligations which add real value to one’s life and career, and cut out everything that doesn’t pass the test. The obligations that remain will be things you do expertly and efficiently, because they are your strengths and sole concentration.
Focus on deep work, not shallow work
Professor Newport claims that shallow work keeps workers from losing their jobs, but “deep” work is what earns promotions. Focus on putting your best self forward, performing deep work in an expert and efficient way as described in the previous point, and the rewards will come. Shallow, busywork does not use your talents, so don’t make it the focus on your work day and allow it to overstress and rob time from you. Focus productivity on obligations which are the most personally and professionally rewarding and fulfilling.