Sneaky Productivity Technique Just For You

Sneaky Productivity Technique Just For You

Still feeling out of control with all you have to do?

Still wondering how you’ll ever get everything done?

Wondering how come you’re the only one who can’t achieve stuff?


You’re not alone.

I know that to do list is huge. In fact if you were really a doer- then your to-do list has a to-do list! Me? I have a pile of to-do lists 🙂

But you know what?

They are not important.

Your “not to do list” is more important according to Jim Collins, and I kind of agree with him. Hey, he’s been a lot more successful than me so why wouldn’t I agree?!

The trick is in breaking things down into doable bits that don’t overwhelm you. Heard of How Do You Eat An Elephant?: One Bite at a Time! Chunk it down, baby.

OK, so let’s get real and fix all that stuff around you that’s cluttering your head and your physical space.

If you’re like me you rush from one thing to another and don’t take time to put things away before you’re onto the next thing. Or, you have so many projects on the go or in the ideas stage and you put things aside for when you get time. Or, there are unfinished things you need to get back to so you have them nearby for … when you have time.

Let’s clear a path now and stick with it!

Using the same chunking approach, here’s a technique you can put into action now:

  1. Grab a big box. Gather everything that’s lying around your office and put them in the box. Before you put stuff in there, check it’s not urgent (in which case leave it out and do it before moving on). Give the box a label. Kind of GTD but with a really big inbox!
  2. Get four boxes. Label them BIN, FILE, DO NEXT, SCHEDULE.
  3. Next, pick up one thing out of your big box.  Make a decision on it.
    1. Is it needed? If not – bin it.
    2. Is it for filing/reference? Pop it in the file box.
    3. Do you need to act on it? Do it or schedule it.
    4. Make sure everything is allocated to one of the boxes.
  4. Work on the big box as long as you can. If you can clear it into the smaller boxes in one session, do so. If you can only spare an hour and haven’t made an impression, commit to doing an hour a day.

Once you’ve cleared the big box and sorted into the little boxes, chuck the BIN box. DO NOT GO THROUGH IT AGAIN!!

Put the File box near your filing station and devote 20 minutes daily to clearing it out by filing it.

Take the SCHEDULE box and plug in your diary the exact day and time you will deal with each piece. If you need to do research or involve someone else, note that on the task. Double the amount of time you think you will need to complete each task! Better to have time over than rush.

Take the DO NEXT box and sit down and get it done NOW. As you do each task, if it can’t be done now, pop it into the Schedule box. By day’s end you should be through the DO NOW box.

In future, plot out your projects and tasks then include them in your daily or weekly schedule.

Think about how you communicate with yourself. “Write a 50,000 word book” is a lot different to “write 500 words a day” or “draft an outline of the book” or “write out bullet points for each chapter“.  The latter tasks are much more doable and way less stressful or put-off-able! One thing GTD (Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity) taught me was to think about the very Next Action that needs to happen.

What’s the Next Action right now for you?

12 thoughts on “Sneaky Productivity Technique Just For You

  1. Mel after I read this I was thinking how organizing your tasks in this way, is yet another task. LOL I guess we all have to find out what works for us and makes us be more efficient and productive without wanting to pull our hair out, and with my thinning issues, I can’t afford to do that. ROFL

    1. True. Sometimes if you can’t find something you can always find an alternative … unless it was some original manuscript you created! But please don’t tear your hair out!!

  2. Definitely some great tips. I know that I get overwhelmed trying to get everything done when it is just a big pile of work sitting on my desk.

    I’ll have to try chunking things out – maybe that will help me to get my work done while struggling to entertain my 2 year old.

    1. Let the two year old at your big pile of work – that’ll be split up in no time into smaller parts that you can attack 🙂 Appreciate your comment, Marc!

  3. Yup I needed this! Thank you for sharing your tips… when I write my to do list for the day I write 3 doable items. Then I do a quick number priority. If I finish them I write down 2 more. It’s small enough to not overwhelm me and 3 is enough to feel accomplished and strive to finish so I can add more. It’s also nice to do it first thing in the morning because then it’s on my mind all day!

    I will be trying out your bin method too because my desk is full of papers. Let’s just say it’s on my to do list for today. 🙂

    Kassy McMichael @ Purposeful Productions

    1. Pleased the timing was right for you, Kassy. Thanks for taking time out to comment. Look forward to seeing when that clean up makes the list 🙂

  4. Great tips here, to an issue which holds so many people back. I like the idea of the what *not* to do list!
    I note you’re a fan of Jack Canfield.
    I came across him only this year, and really like his stuff too!

    1. Hey Gordon – appreciate you stopping by. Jack is one of the luminaries in his field and proves that any ordinary person can do extraordinary things with the right connections and drive.

  5. Excellent tips once again, Mel. I used to have these boxes. In the end I’ve found a different method that works better for me, but this was needed to get started with it.

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