Use these four rules for better productivity now

Photo by Roman Bozhko on Unsplash

To me, better productivity is best coupled with something called deep work. I have written an article on this very topic some months ago, and as I have stated in the article, I had a long way to go in deep working. After three months or so, I can confirm that deep working is the superior way to do your work, but as it has occurred to me as well in this time period, it is also very easy to become distracted in deep work, which is fairly common. In my case, it was like 7 times out of 10 that I would just end up not getting the same amount of work done compared to my max output.

When I was reading more of the book last week, Deep Work by Cal Newport, which is an amazing read which I recommend you must pick up some time, I came across something important that I had been missing the whole time. It is often the case where you know what to do, but you do not know how to execute it properly. To combat this, Cal has given the 4 Disciplines of Execution (or more conveniently, the 4DX), which I will state below.

1) Aim for the most important tasks

Have a specific goal that would return more enthusiasm back to you so that you feel more motivated to do more of the current task. Pick the thing that you say yes to the thing that you want the most, and the wanting removes any possible distraction. Deep work will not help in doing everything at once. It involves putting one thing in the spotlight, getting it done with, and moving on to the next.

2) Observe the Lead Measures for Progress

Okay, so now you have your great goal to achieve. Awesome. Now to measure your success with that goal. Not so awesome if you measure the wrong thing. Cal says that there are two types of metrics for this purpose: lag and lead measures.

Lag measures are those things that show that you have succeeded, but they come after a time lag.

Lead measures are something that are new things that will help you attain the lag measures.

Many people measure lag measures, with which the problem is that they come too late to change your behavior. Instead, focus on the lead measures. They direct your attention to improving the things that you can control right now to attain your long term goals. For deep work, it is common to measure the amount of time spent in concentrated focus dedicated to your goal.

3) Keep a good scoreboard

So, what next? We now need something to motivate you more to do the stuff that you should do get to the end goal. What I suggest to you here is keep a tally table, made in a notepad or anything really, next to your work desk. For each hour spent in deep work, put a checkmark. That will motivate you more to get the next hour done, showing that you have succeeded now, and will get closer to your ultimate goal if you get that next checkmark.

Seeing that you’re doing something productive manifest into a thing that you can see on your table is a thing so powerful and motivating that you will want to do more.

4) Become accountable to your performance

I’ll be honest. I most of the times never reflect back on my bad performance. I just think that it is something that is more demotivating than helpful to learn from. It actually helps you a lot, when you take an hour out of your workweek and reflect on your performance.

Look back on the week you just had, whether it was a good or a bad week in terms of productivity. Analyze what went wrong, or chill and treat yourself to a nice chocolate bar if you just had a good one. People, and even I used to think, analyzing workweeks is something that only teams do, but no, it helps you so much when you’re just a lone worker as well.



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