This is the fifth post in the Spotlight on Productivity series, in which I examine productivity challenges associated with academic/knowledge work and take stock of current thinking and tools to help us get things done.
Being Productive = Staying Focus
One of the most important realization about being productive is maintaining razor sharp focus on doing only a few big things a day. The brain, like a piece of muscle, does tire out. That’s why it makes sense to start the day off doing cognitively demanding tasks when you are fresh and recharged. Leave technical tasks towards the end of the day.
But meetings and errands do get in the way of producing. This requires conscious effort to prioritize tasks and arrange to do them during “down time”. It’s also helpful to create time-blocks where you purposefully block off to dedicate to certain important tasks, like writing a paper or doing literature searches.
In the last post, I introduced David Seah’s tool for project-task tracking. In this post, I introduce David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner for day-planning. It’s has several built-in features that work well with knowledge work.
What is the Emergent Task Planner?
In David’s words, the ETP is designed around three ideas: The ETP is designed around three ideas:
- Focus – A small set of important tasks is more likely to get done.
- Assessment – Estimating and tracking task time helps you allocate your time more effectively.
- Time Visualization – There are only so many hours in the day. By showing you the time you have left, you can see whether your planning is realistic or not.
HOW TO USE IT
How to Use It
1. Write-in the date and hours of the day at the top and left-side of the form with your favourite pen.
2. Write-in three tasks you want to do, more if you are feeling optimistic!
3. Block-out the time to do them in the day grid on the left.
4. Keep notes of interruptions and unplanned tasks as necessary.
5. Review at end of day, and prioritize what’s left for tomorrow.
Why use ETP
The ETP is excellent for tracking how much time is spent on each task. Since adopting it, I find that I am more conscious of how I am to spend my time, and how I actually spent time. It allows me to do a post-game analysis each day to fine-tune my productivity. I now feel more in control of my time and of my day.
Like the TPT, the ETP is free to download and print in B/W and Colour. The ETP also comes in several different sizes (US Letter/US Half-size 2-Up; A4; A5).
Give it a try and let me know how it goes!