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Work Hack #4: Five Things.

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Work Hack #4: Five Things.

Today’s work hack is deceptively simple, but I can honestly say it has changed my working life since I started it a few months ago.

Those of you familiar with the Productivity Ninja, who hosted a few seminars and workshops for us this year, will probably have heard this one. It goes like this: At the start of every day you get a notebook, diary or piece of paper (I love a post-it myself ) and write on it just 5 things you want to achieve that day. These are the things that, if completed, would make today a good day.

They could be quick and easy (confirm the date of the next team meeting) or more involved (design the lesson plan for next week’s workshop). They might be things that would put you ahead of the game (sketch out the stakeholder map for the project you are about to take on) or things you have been putting off (phone the doctor for your test results). You should also include the important as well as the urgent (see the last work hack blog to find out more). What they are is up to you, but they must be 5 things that are achievable that day. Once you have your list, put it somewhere that you can see it so you can cross each off once they are done.

That’s it. Of course you do now need to go and do them. And probably a ton of other tasks, meetings etc. that befall you during the course of the day. The point of the 5 things isn’t to become constrained by doing just those and ignoring everything else. Rather, if you at least get those 5 done, then you can finish the day and say it’s been a good day, that you achieved your goal.

Whether it works or not is down to you (sorry!). You could decide the 5 things are pretty micro and easy to achieve… but then I would ask – would it give you the same sense of satisfaction… honestly? Don’t go the other extreme either and overstretch yourself, so you risk not making it and feeling bad.

The other trap that I have fallen into at times, is confusing this with a long to-do list for the day. Don’t be tempted to fill the list with ten or twenty things because they all need to be done and you can’t choose just 5… you are missing the point. There will always be more tasks on your desk than you have time for in a given day, so don’t torture yourself with trying to do them all. If you need a separate overall to-do list then great, but I promise you that picking just 5 things and having that as your daily goal will feel a whole heap better.

5 things. One day. That’s achievable – anything else on top is a bonus and you end the day feeling like you made a difference.

Juliet Flynn, Organisational and People Development


If you want to find out more from the people at Think Productive then check out their website.

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