Parenting makes people more efficient. Parents become more efficient by brute force: even a generous nursery opens only 10 hours a day. That means you have to do the same amount of work you used to have 24 hours to choose from in 10 hours.

 

Do I just work harder or did I become more productive?

 

If I became more productive, wouldn’t it be great if others could get the same productivity gains without the parenting?

 

Yes, I became more productive, and I can share how, in 5 steps.

 

Step 1: Diagnose improvement areas

Step 2: Pick your battles

Step 3: Experiment

Step 4: Review and implement

Step 5: Make more informed decisions

 

Now in detail.

 

Step 1: Diagnose improvement areas

Everyone is different. It won’t help you with getting distracted less if I tell you how to spend less time cooking. Get some data on your problems.

 

Track what you do and how much time you spend on each task. Toggl.com is extremely easy to use and free. It takes you 2 seconds to log what you are doing. You can also print out your calendar and take notes by hand.

 

Do that for different days (days spent teaching are different from days spent recruiting from days spent from doing research).

 

Look at the weekly summary that toggl emails you and think about what you don’t like. Do you spend too much time on certain tasks? Too little? Do you switch between tasks a lot? Do you need to take more breaks?

 

Not every task is created equal, and not even at all times. I hate cooking weeknights but love cooking all day in the weekends. Track your mood with your task. For example with Daylio, easy to use app. Or print out your calendar and draw smileys.

 

Step 2: Pick your battles

Trying to improve everything at once will not allow you to identify what change was effective, and therefore worth implementing for the future. Therefore, do one thing at a time.

 

You don’t need to start with the most important. The easiest area of improvement may be the most satisfactory to change.

 

Then stop worrying about the other problems while you are experimenting with the problem you chose. You’ll get to them later.

 

Step 3: Experiment

The perfect way to live your life does not exist. There are plenty of ways to live, to work, to think, that are perfectly satisfactory. Experiment until you are happy with the result.

 

The more you experiment, the more confident you will be with the change you chose.

 

Yes, experiment by definition may make you unhappy in the short-term. It’s worth it because it will make your happier in the long-term.

 

What should you experiment with? There are one million time management techniques online. Here are some things that helped me and people around me:

 

  • Pomodoro technique
  • Dedicate email slots and turn off notifications at other times
  • Use slack.com
  • Auto-forward emails from admin into admin folder and inspect after lunch
  • Use doodle for setting up appointments with more than 1 person
  • Set deadlines and reminders
  • Set priorities and review
  • Make a roast at the weekend, freeze the pieces and use for different dishes during the week (salad, soup, stirfry, pasta etc.) that only take 10 minutes to implement
  • Work on one thing only each day
  • Work on five dedicated tasks each day
  • Schedule what you want to work on in your calendar
  • Give yourself more freedom what you want to work on
  • Outsource as much as possible (see my blog on outsourcing)
  • Take a break every day at 4pm and walk to the Thames
  • Stock novels in your office and read them at 4pm for 15 minutes instead of Facebooking
  • Print the blogs you want to read and read in the tube
  • Take a nap after lunch
  • Take a lunch
  • Take no lunch

 

You see, the possibilities are endless.

 

Step 4: Review and implement

Pick the best technique based on evidence and stick with it.

 

Review after a while and refresh.

 

Schedule a review in your calendar after a couple of weeks to remind yourself.

 

Step 5: Make more informed decisions

The best time management won’t help you much if you work on boring topics with annoying people, or if your mind is full with health, finance, and relationship problems.

 

Use step 1-4 for project selection, co-author selection, private problems, and to improve your health and financial status. Make conscious, informed decisions.

 

Then tell me if any of this worked or whether I should adapt any of this.

Leave a Comment