output over time

Measure work done rather than hours worked. That’s what Francis Bacon warned us for in 1612. “Affected dispatch is one of the most dangerous things to business that can be… Therefore measure not dispatch by the times of sitting, but by the advancement of the business.”

Combining this visionary statement with Parkinson’s law from 1955, which claims: “The amount of work will always expand as to the amount of time available.” Meaning, if you have one year to complete your thesis, somehow it takes one year to complete. If you have six months to complete your thesis, magically, it takes but six months to wrap it up.

Spending more time working is only interesting if the output remains high. Favor output over time.

fixed flexibility

I’m slightly allergic to the following crap: follow these five steps so you, too, can have a magical morning. Activities such as reading, meditation or praying, working out all can make your morning more magical.

However, what none of these pieces of advice seem to entail are the more mundane things. What about washing up, eating, getting dressed, helping others in the household get dressed, traveling to work, the list goes on…

One of my biggest pieces of advice is; include a flexible component.

I find a plan to be only as good as its flexibility. Returning to the morning routine example. One of the activities on the planning should be; a wildcard. After all, you never know what’s going to happen. Suppose you are overcome with sadness due to the inability to complete all items on your list. What then is the purpose of the routine?

What’s true of morning routines is also true of businesses.

Taking the Pareto principle into account, include gaps, breathing space, or wildcards in your planning. Complement fixed components with flexible ones.

wait for it

Sometimes, the entrepreneur has to wait for certain things to fall into place. For instance, the engineering department releasing a new version of their product or a shipment of raw product due to arrive, to process it.

Those are challenging times. Entrepreneurs are typically impatient. Having to wait goes against their beliefs. Yet, sometimes, there is no way around it.

With an incessant inflow of work, why would waiting ever pose a problem? Can’t the entrepreneur just attend to all the other tasks?

They probably could. That doesn’t actually solve the problem. It camouflages the waiting time. It doesn’t make it disappear.

Sometimes waiting has to take place. Stressing about it doesn’t reduce waiting time. Accept the waiting time as gracious as possible.

don’t do

What’s your favorite dish? The best movie ever made? Your alltime number one hit record? Answers to trivial questions like these aren’t usually straightforward. There might be multiple answers.

Sometimes, approaching the problem the other way around might help. What’s your least favorite dish?

With limitless possibilities, knowing exactly what the next best thing is, isn’t always easy. Determining which initiative to launch, or which adventure to embark on is challenging with so many valable options.

Sometimes it’s more helpful to know exactly what not to do, rather than the other way around.

dish starter

I hate doing the dishes with a passion. Yet and still, I often deliberately leave some dishes for the following day.

In Make Your Bed, the author William H. McRaven, a retired four-star US Navy SEAL admiral, argues that Navy SEAL’s are encouraged to make their bed the very first thing in the morning. Even though it’s not a challenging task, checking off a tiny task helps lift the inertia. It gets us going and provides us with the sweet joy of accomplishment.

Now, one can’t make their bed when their partners are still in it. That’s why I kick start my morning with dishes. Stupid dishes.

Boost productivity by breaking up a large project into many small tasks. Get started with a minor task, even when it seems relatively meaningless.

After all, inertia is a beast, and as Albert Einstein said, nothing happens until something moves.

have-done list

Seeing to-dos accumulate faster than you’re able to complete them is frustrating. In reality, a lot more work gets done than featured on your list.

Even though some tasks are seemingly banal, it’s still worthwhile adding them. Scratch that. It’s worth scratching them off.

Every time we complete a task, a mini shot of dopamine is released. A feeling of accomplishment washes over us.

Answering a business phone call, for instance, might take a dent out of your schedule. Perhaps a dent that deserves a reward.

Throughout the day, we end up doing much work we didn’t plan. Consider adding impromptu tasks to your list so you can scratch them off right away. Now you’re getting so much work done.

multithreading

Multitasking is a myth. Even though humans can perform multiple tasks at once, we’re not particularly good at it.

Computers, on the other hand, are built for multitasking and subsequently excel at doing so. In computing terms, tasks are sometimes referred to as threads. A computer’s processor isn’t influenced by hormones or lack of sleep and is typically built to run as many threads as possible at the same time.

For us people, with 100% of concentration (and dedication) to divide over tasks, running four tasks (simultaneously) results in 25% focus per task. Suppose they are easy, repetitive tasks that don’t necessarily require a lot of creativity or intelligence. In that case, you might get away with it. If that’s not the case, consider changing your workflow from parallel to sequential.

Pick up tasks that require full focus, one at a time, back to back.