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When I think about being productive, I think about a conceptthat's usually talked about in the realm of videogames, actions per minute, or APM, as a lot of people like to say.
In real-time strategy games and MOBAs and in other games, like Don'tStarve, every second counts and learning how to move andact as quickly as possible can mean the differencebetween victory and defeat, between, well, starving and not starving.
In other words, movefast or get left behind.
But the sheer volume ofactions you can perform is only half the battle.
If there's no plan behind the actions, no greater vision ensuringeach movement is the right one, then, well, you're just wasting energy, or possibly even worse.
So today we're gonna dig into how you can effectively planand prioritize your work, both on the small scale, so you know how to bestplan each work day, and on a larger scale, turning an eye towardsthe weeks and months head.
Now, both of these are important to master in a general sense, but even more so whenyou're working from home and are much more responsible for how you manage yourown time and energy.
When all that managementis on you, it's crucial that you're able to setthe right priorities.
Like, for example, should I have prioritized building an entirelynew set for this video? Well, probably not.
But, hey, this is a learning space.
You see this tastefully selected amp? See this vintage camerafrom the antique store that doesn't actually work but really ties the set together? Yeah, this is a learning space, not a judgment space, Derick.
So let's start learningand let's kick that off with how to properly plan your day.
At the most basic level, I plan my day by creating what I call a daily list.
Now, I do this on thewhiteboard in my office but you can do it basically anywhere.
You can use a paper daily list or even rely on the duedates in your task manager.
But whatever method you use, there are a few thingsyou should keep in mind when you're doing your planning.
First, realize that the duedates in your task manager may not paint a perfect picture of what you should actually do today or, indeed, what you can do today.
Now, I say this becauseI know that I am guilty of continually allowing my intentions to eclipse my abilitiesand if I don't stop myself, I will often write down way more tasks than I can realistically getdone in any one given day.
So try your best to keep this list limited to what you can actuallydo and when you fail, you will inevitably fail sometimes, make an observation of it so you can plan moreaccurately for the next day.
And realize that it mightactually take some time to get better at this, as ourbrains really aren't built for making accurate time estimates.
In fact, researchers have found that people typically will givenearly the exact same answer when they are asked to give estimates for the best case case scenario versus an average case scenario.
Now, of course, by definition, the average case willalways take more time than the best case.
Like if we're talkingabout driving to work, which is probably something that you don't actuallyhave to do right now, but let's just use it as an example here, the best case would mean hittingevery single green light, it would mean neverencountering any traffic at all, and an average case wouldn'tlook like that at all, but naturally we tend to conflate the two.
Now, one thing that can helpyou plan more accurately is breaking down yourtasks into small chunks and then scheduling those chunks.
This strategy is calledtime-boxing, or time-blocking, and to use it, you slot your tasks into small time blocks on your calendar.
Now, this doesn't work well for everyone, some people feel like itkinda boxes them in too much, makes them feel too muchlike cogs in a machine, but a lot of people do find that it helps them avoidprocrastinating during the day.
That's a big problem, especiallywhen you work at home.
I like to think about it this way.
When you're planning yourday, you are in planning mode and once you start working, you move over into robot mode.
At that point, your job issimply to execute the plans that were made earlier, so the more accurate those plans are, the more likely you are to stick to them.
Now, if you don't want to go the uber-granular way of time-boxing, I would suggest at leastlisting your day's tasks out in the order you're going to do them.
And for most people, I thinkyou would be best served by planning to do your most difficult, or dreaded, task first, especially when you're working at home.
When you're at work, you can often procrasti-work a little bit by answering your emails or doing other little, small tasks first, but eventually you're gonnarun out of tiny things to do and you're gonna have to tackle that really big, dreaded task.
But at home, well, how do I put this? There's always something to clean.
There's always something to organize.
And, honestly, I am not too proud to admit that I have literally convinced myself that I needed to hang a picture before starting a video script.
And that is because, quite honestly, my robot mode is morelike trained monkey mode.
I am easily distracted by shiny things, so a strong, ordered planalways helps me to stay on task.
With that said, let's get a birds-eye view and take a look at long-term planning.
So, like I mentioned at thebeginning of this video, a high number of actions per minute only matters if those actions are guided by a strong game plan.
And since most of your overallgoals are long-term ones, you need to know how to lookbeyond your daily schedule and effectively plan forthe weeks and months ahead.
So here are just a few techniques for keeping track ofthings on a larger scale and even dealing with things that don't have strict due dates.
First, I want to show you a great method for breaking down largeprojects into manageable pieces and then tracking their progress.
It's called the Kanban Method and it's employed by teamseverywhere around the world to get all sorts of huge projects done.
At its core, Kanban uses cards and lists.
Cards keep details about individual tasks, while the lists indicatethe stages of the project.
So as you work on tasks andmove them to different stages, their respective cards getmoved through the lists as well so you always have accurate birds-eye view of how things are going.
Here's just one exampleof Kanban in action.
This is our video project tracker, which we, of course, keep in Notion.
Now, normally it's in list view, but I can also switchit into a Kanban view and this lets me see whichvideos are being researched, which videos are in the writing stage, and which videos are being edited.
And as each video progresses, it moves through each of these stages so, again, I can see where it is and what needs to be done next.
Next, for a more complicated example, let's take a look at theTrello board that we used for the website redesign wedid a couple of years ago.
Now, this was a huge project that had hundreds of tasksand tons of considerations, design, typography, codeoptimizations, SEO, you name it, so there was a lot more goingon in its respective board.
But the general idea was still the same.
Cards moved through theirlists as they got worked on and we could always see thegeneral state of the project.
So that's just onetechnique that you can use to plan more effectivelyfor your long-term projects.
And, of course, there are a lot more that we could talk about, but to keep this video short, I want to move onto thequestion of prioritization.
How do you decide what to work on when you're looking atthings on a larger timescale? Well, as it turns out, my friend Martin has a system for that, so let me just ring him up real quick.
Oh, hey, Martin!- Oh hey.
– So a couple of monthsago, I made this video about something that Idubbed the Martin System and people liked it.
And as it turns out, you haveyet another Martin System to share with us.
– I do like making systems.
Let's see, basically my kitchen system of organizing my Todoist.
– And how is this different than the normal kindacategory-based system that I have been using forever? – Yeah, so I had my Todoistset up like categories before, 'cause you know I do a bunch of stuff, podcast work, writing work, all sorts of extra different things, server stuff and programming.
And what I found wasthat every single day, I had to look through six or seven lists to figure out what Iwanted to do that day, which was cumbersome.
Eventually, the lists became full and I stopped wantingto look through them.
So I've switched it now.
I've got four lists everything goes in, regardless of category, and they're all based offof the kitchen metaphor putting something on the back burner.
So obviously one of thelists is the Back Burner.
That's where everything goeswhen I'm not focusing on it.
It's not important right now, it might be at some point, but I shouldn't be doing it today.
And to compliment that, I created three lists, one of which is Vitamins.
Everyday you take your vitamins.
So this is stuff like check my email.
This is stuff like checkthe publishing schedules, make sure we're on track.
Stuff like that you do everyday, it's a small task.
You just do it real quick.
– Now are these gummy vitamins? – Well, obviously they're gummy vitamins! I hate other vitamins.
I hate— Just checking.
– And I hate the chalkyones, so it's gummies all the way down.
Anyway the next list is the Front Burner.
It's the stuff that I'mcurrently looking at, the most important stuff.
So if I'm prepping a podcast that we need to record next week, that's on the Front Burner.
If I'm fixing a big bug, that's on the Front Burner because I want to wake up, say okay, what do I got to do? Oh, those two projectsare important today.
I should get to them.
And the last list is the Oven list, so I'm going off the assumption that I'm running some sort of oven timer.
Basically, these are scheduled items that happen every once in a while, like backing up image filesor running through a process or checking email statistics.
Something that might happen every month or every other month or every year.
– Checking our Amazon has three backups, make sure they're fine, all that kind of stuff.
– Yeah, stuff like that.
I don't need to think aboutthat on a daily basis, but, much like an oven timer, when it goes off, I shouldprobably see what's going on.
I shouldn't forget about it.
– So Todoist obviously has the today list, it has the next seven days, and then you can make filters to have next two weeks so theoretically, you could just use the classiccategorization approach with due dates.
What made you feel thatthat wasn't good enough that you needed to build this kind of Kitchen System instead? – That would be because of my, and I presume many people's, completely inability to understand how longsomething might take or how much time one has in a day.
So I'd set all of thesethings due optimistically.
They don't all have a due date of I'm gonna do it all on Tuesday, these 10 tasks, I'llget 'em out of the way, and the week's gonna look great.
But that's not how it works.
What happens is I'd accomplishmaybe three of them, if I'm really lucky, 'cause something elseimportant was going on, and then I now have seven things that are overdue in Todoist.
Now, I can take thetime to reschedule them but what tends to happen with me is that I just keeprescheduling the same things over and over becausethey're just not important, I've got a huge list ofthings that are overdue or due today, and I know now by now that I'm not going to do them all.
– Yeah, that makes sense.
All right, so quick recap time.
On a daily scale, make sure you're creatinga daily plan for yourself each and every day that you work.
Try to keep this limited to the tasks that you can actually get done and be observant aboutanything you don't get done, so you can become more accurate over time.
Again, aim to bring your intention and your ability into alignment.
Additionally, aim to tackleyour most difficult task first and use time-boxing if you need.
On a longer-term scale, experiment with techniqueslike the Kanban Method to map out your projects and make sure you're alwaysmaintaining an accurate view of how each piece of them is going.
And finally, find a way toprioritize what you're working on and if the way you've been doing it in the past isn't working, then look for a method that does work or invent one of your own.
Martin's Kitchen Systemis a great example of this and it's also a great example of how taking a novel, creative approach to solving a problemcan yield great results.
And if you want to improve your ability to creatively solve problems, then you might want to takesome of your free time, which you should have more of now, if you're now planning effectively, and check out Brilliant.
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And their Daily Challengesfeature takes this even further, giving you new challenges every single day so you make building yourproblem solving skills a daily habit.
So to get started for free, head on over tobrilliant.
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Thanks as always for watching this video.
Hopefull you found it useful, hopefully you got somethinghelpful out of it, and if you did, definitelyhit that like button to feed the YouTube algorithmwith more tasty, tasty data.
Also if you did enjoy this, especially if you enjoyedthe conversation I had with Martin in this video, then you might want to checkout our podcast as well.
I'll have that link in thedescription down below.
And you may be interested to know that our most recent episodewas about working from home, so check that out if youwant some additional tips.
Beyond that, you cansubscribe right there, if you're not subscribed already, to get new videos whenever they come out, click right here to get onemore video on this channel, and, as always, you're gonnawant to smash your face into your phone screen 'cause your fingers aren't as effective for clicking those boxes, so make sure you do that.
Beyond that, go do whatever you want, I'm not your dad, but I willsee you in the next video.