How I Make the Most of My Day
Over the past few years, I've been trying to find ways to make the best use of my time while trying to do things that I've always been putting off that didn't seem urgent. Granted, I'm not perfect and even I lapse from time to time, here are some tips I use myself on a daily basis to tame my to-do list.
⏳ If it takes less than 2 minutes, then do it now
There's always little pieces of tasks I could do as I walk around my room. There's a table with a plate of snacks on it, there's a filled trash bin in my washroom that I could take out and replace, there's 2 cups in my kitchen sink that I could wash etc. I could probably do all of these tasks in 2 minutes, so I reason with myself that I should do them now, or else the problem will multiply every day turning into a 10 to 14 minute time I need to set aside in my schedule to clean up, and on top of that, there may be "collateral damage" if I don't like smells from food and making my living space so unpleasant to look at that my room looks like hell. I don't want to be a denizen of hell!
🔝 Use a priority matrix
There are several ways to do this but Stephen Covey's books, specifically, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People mentions using something called the "Eisenhower Matrix".
The Eisenhower matrix basically asks you to categorize tasks into quadrants.
The first quadrant (Q1) is all tasks that are urgent and important, in other words, these are tasks that must be finished at a specific time and are important in the long run, like checking why you've been dizzy for the last 5 days with the doctor, or applying for that new job.
The second quadrant (Q2) is important but non-urgent tasks. They still help you get to where you want, but the only problem is that you haven't made time or put it on your schedule to really give it the sense of urgency and intentionality it needs yet. Granted, the tasks in this quadrant could definitely streamline your Q1 tasks.
Finally, there are tasks that are not important but urgent, that's the third quadrant (Q3). If you happen to hire someone, or a work partner that does more of the legwork while you do more of the ideation, then you may see if you can delegate the task. This could be something like making phone calls to a client, bringing a list of materials from A to B, and basically anything that doesn't need your particular skillset.
Lastly, there are Q4 tasks, these are tasks that are not urgent or important. Most of the time, these tasks are so unimportant that I end up deleting them in the first place. However, maybe they could be important for some sort of relationship building exercise, like "watching that movie with my date" even though you personally don't value the movie itself. If you're planning for "me time", then Q4 could serve as an energizer, which is great for getting in the flow for your other tasks, but again from personal experience, and from its inherent quadrant, you'll end up deleting the tasks without much second thought.
📆 Put it on the calendar and time yourself doing it
Honestly, I barely look at my to-do lists anymore unless they are on my calendar. This is because I check my calendar as much as I check my notifications. If I didn't have a calendar, physical or digital, I would not know where to go in my life. The reason for having my tasks on a calendar rather than a to-do list is because the calendar gives my task more intentionality. It's not just "something I'll do someday", it'll be "something I will attempt to do a part of starting at 5 pm tomorrow". I can always repeat the task as a calendar event if I don't finish it.
✋ Be a "No Man"
This doesn't mean to totally ignore people in order to go to some cave and live the rest of your life as a hermit. Being a no man becomes important when more and more people want you to do them a favour. If someone asks you to do something outside of your skillset, kindly and honestly tell them that "I appreciate that you reached out to me and am honored about having this request. Unfortunately, I am unable to do it nut I do recommend reaching out to XYZ to see if they can do it. In the past they did [some related task] and are much more qualified than I am." It's a rejection that still gives the person that requested you something they wanted, and everyone walks out feeling like they didn't lose anything from asking.
⭐️ Choose a Daily Highlight, the Task that is the most meaningful to you
There's an idea called a "Daily Highlight", inspired from the book Make Time from Jake Knapp, in which he says that every day there should be a task that is on the top of your to-do list, no matter how urgent or how important it is, but is meaningful to you to finish. He recommended that the task should be no shorter than 10 minutes (because that would fall into the territory of my first tip in this article) but no longer than 2 hours (leading to energy). It takes about an hour for some people to "get into the flow" but after a few hours, the flow could lead to diminishing returns and you'd need a break to energize yourself so you don't burn yourself out for the rest of the day.
This task should make you feel happy that you've done it regardless of whether the other to-dos in your day get finished or not. It should be the one that gives you the most meaning.
I hope you enjoyed these few basic tips that I use on a daily basis. Please let me know if you have any time management tips or ways you energize yourself in order to make the most of your day!
Quote of the Week
Every business wants to get you addicted to their infinite updates, pings, chats, messages, and news. But if what you want out of life is to create, then those are your obstacles.
Hell Yeah, or No by Derek Sivers, resurfaced using Readwise