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my 4pm list

I read an interesting productivity tip someplace: save your mindless, menial tasks for late in the day when your energy is low and mindpower is spent. Similar to the "don't check email in the morning" philosophy - morning should be reserved for your most challenging projects that require really thinking through things.

I've always used my calendar for some boring scheduled tasks - I moved those reminders to 3pm on Fridays. I also made a list of things to do when I hit that 3 or 4pm "ugh I feel like doing nothing" mental state, which definitely happens. My list is:

1) Read all memos that we've gotten from suppliers lately. Since they get saved in special folders by people I have a habit of being like well they're saved forever, I can read them any time in forever... but that didn't always happen.

2) Check inbox for things waiting on my signature

3) Clean desk

4) Clean computer desktop, "my documents", and download folders where files just seem to seep

5) Revisit top priorities list

6) Spot-check personnel files to make sure folks are documenting recent accomplishments

7) Erase whiteboards. I hate when the marks get left there for months and don't erase. Plus people should be using them to think, and clean whiteboards encourage thinking - especially in those fighting meetings where everyone is stating and re-stating their opinions, I learned this from an IT guy, the second a fight starts go to the whiteboard and start writing down what people are saying. When they see their opinion up there, they drop the need to re-state it.

8) Catch up on industry and competitor news

9) Set up 1x1 meetings with random people - this was a goal from 2014 or something, if you're constantly calling people into your office to talk about improvement, they don't get scared on days when you HAVE to say "Come see me in my office".

DONE. That's enough things to keep me plenty busy and moving even if my brain is tired.


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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 4th, 2016 09:32 pm (UTC)
Huh. That advice is entirely predicated on the notion that 4pm is the least mentally productive and the morning is the most. That's totally untrue for a lot of people I know, especially people who are night owls. I get my best work done between about 3pm and 5pm, especially during the time of year when the sun shines directly into my office windows during that period. And I usually spend the first hour of the day out at the office checking email and faffing around on social media, guilt free, because I know it takes me that long to wake up and get ready to work (no matter how early I've actually gotten up).
Apr. 4th, 2016 09:52 pm (UTC)
This productivity tip assumes you're diurnal. I used to save this kind of nonsense for first thing in the morning when I'm still half asleep. If I arrived at work at 10 AM I would kick into high gear and get tons done from about 2 pm to 6 pm.
Apr. 4th, 2016 11:39 pm (UTC)
I'm with you on with the idea of scheduling tasks according to the time of day in which you're likely to have the appropriate energy level, but I have to echo the other comments in disagreeing with the assumption that for everyone, morning is the high-energy time of day. I'm useless in the morning for anything that requires real thought, and am just getting revved up at 3 or 4pm. I know a lot of people who are similar. The person who gave you that productivity tip apparently lives in some alternate reality where everyone is a morning person!
Apr. 5th, 2016 09:42 am (UTC)
I love the idea of making a list of brain-free tasks - like others, these might be most useful for me to do in the morning to kick me off. Mine would include backing up files onto google drive, renaming documents, and checking money stuff.
Apr. 5th, 2016 02:03 pm (UTC)
Having a list of mindless tasks is a great idea! I'm a bit weird in that I'm usually productive both during morning and afternoon, and my lest productive hour happens before lunch, because being hungry makes me lose focus and become sluggish. I really need a snack between breakfast and lunch.

Thank you for sharing that tip about white boards, too! I will have to remember that if I'm ever in that situation. (Not relevant to me right now, but I like to make mental notes of things like this.)
Apr. 6th, 2016 01:02 am (UTC)
This is a pretty good list of brain-free tasks, I may have to look at it during the period of day when my office is full of chatty officemates (I love them but it is hard to think sometimes).
Apr. 19th, 2016 05:20 am (UTC)
stealing this list
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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