“If only I had two more hours each day,” you say, “I’d get it all done,” or “I’d finally have two hours for myself.”
This is something I hear repeatedly.
The bottom line is: How do you become more productive in the hours available without always being on the go?
Well, surprisingly, the answer is to do less.
Or, to be precise, to get distracted less.
You may remember from earlier articles that you have a part of your brain — the Reticular Activating System or RAS — that acts like a funnel.
It helps to stop the brain from overloading.
Your brain is great at thinking and at spotting what is wrong all around it — resulting from our ancestors needing to be alert to real dangers — and it simply gets overloaded.
During a hectic workday, just as you are about to do ‘the thing’ the phone rings and it is only on your way home that you remember that ‘the thing’ never got done.
Most workers spend their days juggling dozens of tasks and projects at once, while being constantly bombarded by still more.
Without an effective way of prioritising/editing/storing all these tasks they literally remain ‘on your mind’ creating an overwhelm of whirligig thoughts.
This in turn leads to:
- An inability to concentrate fully on the work at hand
- More time at work with less productivity
- A piling up ‘to-do’ list
- An inability to switch off at home
- That wide awake pattern of your brain reminding you of it all at 3am!
- Mental exhaustion and overwhelm
The unfinished tasks whirring around your head, are, according to Matt Serna (2017) open loops.
The brain is really a pattern-making machine and it has a natural tendency to focus on incomplete actions.
It will remind you about them — whether you want it to or not.
Open loops are energy and soul-sapping. They stop you from being productive by distracting you.
So, to create that extra two-hours a day, you need to close the loops.
How you do this is up to you, but it can start with some simple organisational tools.
This could include a brain dump to get it all off your mind.
Write all the things you need to do down and capture it all on paper or digitally.
The next stage is to simplify the list.
Looking at the items, highlight them with either a red or amber (yellow) or green highlighter.
This is the RAG system). Red = urgent, amber = important but not urgent and green = noted but not needing to be done now.
Add blue for tasks you are awaiting responses/actions from others for.
Also, if the action takes less than two minutes to complete, do it immediately, before moving to the next item.
It will be more time-consuming to store and organise such small items than to just do them right away.
Try it and then enjoy the extra hours you free up to do what you really enjoy!
If you want to find out more about this, RTT or how you can work with me book a discovery call – https://rosalynpalmer.com/contact/