Monday, April 6, 2009

The power of right now

Several years ago I was introduced to The Productivity Handbook: New ways of leveraging your time, information, and communications by Donald Wetmore. It was a book that changed my life in that it allowed me to see just what an unorganized boob I was. I read the book from cover to cover, stopping only to work, eat, and work some more. I read in the morning. I read before I went to sleep. I read everywhere. One day I was admonished by a security guard in my building who saw me reading while crossing the street. Perhaps I took my new found productivity too far?

I kept lists. Scores of lists - things to do, places to see, skills to master, book and music to procure, ideas to write about, inventions to build, the lists - and the notebooks that contain them - are legion. And those were just my personal lists. There were work lists too. The lists themselves served an obvious purpose - to place thoughts into a referenceable state so I do something with them at some later point. Which was “almost” guaranteed to happen - once I found the notebook and made time to take care of the chore.

From the volume of tasks I had amassed in a number of locations it became obvious not everything could get done, and not everything should get done. Some of the ideas were bad ones, to say the least. It turns out I kept myself busy with list making in an attempt to ensure I was productive. But if the items never belonged on the list, or never made it off the list, was I really productive?

Clearly, being busy is not the same thing as being productive.

Somewhere out of all the mental clutter, I came upon a simple solution that always helps get m,e squeeze the most out of my time.

The two-minute rule.
If something can be done in two minutes or less, it gets done without delay. I started doing this and noticed the benefits right away. Making a call I dreaded meant I would soon put it in the rear-view mirror. Putting things away meant they wouldn’t be in my way later. Paying bills as soon as they arrived resulted in, well, paid bills! An added bonus is the great feeling that comes with really accomplishing things.

Oh, I still keep lists for those things that take more than five minutes. Each entry is prioritized and evaluated in a way that I hope makes Donald Wetmore proud!

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