23 Apr Be disruptive…and get productive
This morning, in the low-key time between fixing the boys’ lunchboxes and getting them off to school normally reserved for listening with half an ear to the Today programme, I put the ingredients for tonight’s curry into the slow cooker. And then this afternoon, whilst drinking my cup of tea and having a few minutes away from desk and keyboard, I prepared the dough for the accompanying naan breads. As a result, we’ll sit down tonight to a tasty, nutritious home-cooked meal which took about twenty minutes to prepare.
The twenty minutes I used didn’t have anything else particularly important happening in them, so my opportunity cost was low. But I had to disrupt my view of how a typical day ‘should’ work in order to find them. I don’t tend to think about dinner at breakfast time. Similarly, during the course of the working day, it’s easy to get into habits and expectations about how you use your time. Many of us check emails first thing so that we can identify any overnight crises – that’s fine, but it often means we get sucked into a good hour or more doing the fire-fighting and miss the opportunity of some productive time on the work that matters most. Alternatively, we spend hours becoming less and less productive thinking about a problem, because we set ourselves an expectation that we cannot leave our desk until we’ve cracked it. In actual fact, giving yourself permission for a brisk 10 minute walk around the block would probably bring the change of perspective and momentum you’d never find in another hour staring at the screen.
Consider how you’re spending your time over the next few days. Are you wasting your most productive times of day on low key tasks? And are there useful things you could be doing even when your energy or attention levels are low? What expectations have you set yourself about the way you use your time and focus? Shake things up a bit and see what happens – you’ll almost certainly be more productive, and you might get a good meal out of it too!