How To Get More High-Impact Work Done: Setting Up Your Day To Kick Major Ass

There are few things that can help you have more success in your business than using your time more effectively.

For your reading pleasure, here’s a quick primer on scheduling your day.

**********

When you look at a given work day, there are usually a discrete number of tasks, or categories of tasks. In fact, even bigger projects completed over days or weeks are simply the culmination of lots of discrete periods of work.

And this is important to consider when setting up your schedule, because different tasks are “easier” or “harder,” and more or less important.

While “decision fatigue” doesn’t seem to work the way we thought a year ago in light of new research, the brain is still a biological system.

When you wake up, you’re “crisp.”

After a full day of work, you’re “crispy.”

For this reason, we want to prioritize our day thoughtfully. Certain tasks are better to do while “crisp.” Other tasks can purposefully be scheduled to be done while “crispy.”

To my mind, there are four different considerations for categorizing and scheduling your tasks in your day:

1) Important/ Not Important

2) High/ Medium/ Low Brainpower

3) Fun/ Not Fun

4) Urgent/ Not Urgent

**********

1) Important/ Not Important

Important tasks meaningfully move you towards your personal goals. Your non-important tasks do NOT meaningfully move you towards your personal goals. In a given day’s schedule, we want to prioritize the IMPORTANT tasks earlier in the day.

These are the tasks that will have the maximum impact on your goals. While the specifics will depend based on the person, these will generally be high-leverage items that only you can do.

We want to eliminate, reduce, or at the least, push non-important tasks to the end of the day. Not only are you less likely to be interrupted, but your brain will be more “crisp” than “crispy.”

2) High/ Medium/ Low Brainpower

As mentioned, we tend to go from “crisp” to “crispy.” Which tasks are cognitively demanding depend on your experience, personal aptitudes, skills, and background.

Skills that are newer or less developed tend to require more brainpower. Things that are old-hat and sit in the lane of your professional competence (training plus experience) tend to be less demanding.

Here are some examples of where I personally place different tasks into the three tiers:

High Brainpower – Writing content, creating presentations, creating workshops, challenging/ dense personal education

Medium Brainpower – Meetings, planning, coaching, “regular” personal education, weight training

Low Brainpower – Necessary paperwork, scheduling, email responses, commuting, cooking, walking

The above is not a complete list of course, and your tiers will be categorized differently.

But it’s important to consider how much brainpower individual tasks require. The more firepower required for a task, the more you’ll want to prioritize it for earlier in the day.

3) Fun/ Not Fun

It’s harder to do shit we don’t want to do. It’s easier to do shit we want to do.

This is why “not fun” things are best done earlier in the day while “crisp.” This is where we see the old saw of personal productivity, “eat the frog.” (If you’re going to eat a live frog, eat it first thing. Also, what the fuck is wrong with you. Why are you eating a live frog. What the fuuuuuuck.)

For instance, you may have an important task that requires high brainpower, but you LOVE to do it. You may have another important task that requires high brainpower that you HATE to do.

In that case, you will probably want do the task you HATE first thing in your first hour of dedicated morning work, then do the one you LOVE in your second hour of dedicated work. You’ll still prioritize both demanding and important tasks, but this nuance is worth considering.

You may also have an important task that you genuinely enjoy and only requires medium brainpower (like lifting weights!). This may mean that even though it’s important, it’s best placed in the afternoon.

4) Urgent/ Not Urgent

Urgent tasks are time sensitive tasks. Not urgent tasks are NOT time sensitive.

When planning out a given day, the only thing that would really require consideration is if something is TRULY urgent. As in, “stop right now, take care of this RIGHT NOW.”

I think if we’re being honest, you almost never actually have an urgent task outside of a medical emergency.

Now occasionally you may have to physically go cover someone at work because someone is sick. That would qualify.

And some industries function with intense deadlines. For instance, if anyone who works for the press needs something from you, do them a solid and prioritize it.-) And in some fields like real estate, immediate follow-up can make or break deals.

But for most knowledge workers, “urgent” means you have a deadline of 24-72 hours.

In fact, one of the greatest negative impacts of personal tech is that everything seems urgent. It’s not. Take your email off your phone. Put your phone on silent and do not disturb. Forever. Tell your team to call you if it’s an emergency, but you will rarely find anything is actually so urgent it can’t wait a few hours till you check in on your email inbox.

If you master this, you will be ahead of the vast majority of our society that is in perpetual fight-or-flight and not able to think strategically.

In fact, I actually think this particular categorization is the least illuminating. We can indeed keep it in mind for when we schedule a task over a WEEK, but the other three categories are more important to consider for when we do the task in a DAY.

**********

By critically analyzing your To Do List, you can create an effective daily calendar. This is an important step, because it allows your To Do List to exist in time, and in action.

(As opposed to an oppressive never-ending list that just sits there taunting you.)

And by considering your tasks in light of our four categories, you’ll be able to make better decisions about what to do when.

BOOM.

**********

If you like learning how to most effectively use your time, make sure you’re signed up for the Business for Unicorns mailing list. In the next few weeks, I’ll be opening up enrollment for the first ever Time Ninja LIVE 1-Day Workshop in NYC on Sunday May 21st.

Space is going to be strictly limited because Manhattan. This is going to be first come first serve, so I expect spots will go quickly between Business for Unicorns readers and Mark Fisher Fitness Ninjas. Stay tuned!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *