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More creative, more flexible, more productive. Here’s inspiration for your next experiment

Hi, Each week I share thoughts with you on a particular topic. You could say I take a vertical approa

Work in Progress

June 22 · Issue #40 · View online
The newsletter about work

Each week I share thoughts with you on a particular topic. You could say I take a vertical approach. Today I’ll try to go horizontal, by sharing an overview of the categories I get the most questions about, and adding my suggestions for next steps.
The challenge is to keep from thinking: I know this all already. But instead: What’s something I can experiment with this week? Where can I grow?
And you can always go back to how you work now, right?

Running a tighter ship
Try this if you feel your workweek can use some more structure:
  • Declare your calendar sacred. See to it that everything you do has its place on your calendar. Include blocks of prep time for appointments and calls. Otherwise, that’s easy to overlook. 
  • Give your Friday recap more priority and/or go more in-depth during that weekly session to make a better plan for the week to come. 
  • What are your biggest distractions? Take drastic measures to counteract them. Consider enlisting those around you to keep you honest.
  • Use fewer tools and apps for all your to-dos and notes. 
  • Make a checklist to start your day out right (and wrap your day up well).
More focus
When you’ve got a plan but haven’t fully applied it yet:
  • Vary the intensity of your work. Plan a mix of tasks that require intense concentration, smaller jobs that also need to be done, and meetings.
  • Get rid of more distractions. Don’t be afraid to take drastic measures: Keep your cell phone in another room, block websites you don’t want to use, and consider drawing clear boundaries in how you set up the device you use for work.
  • Make changes to your workspace or try working in a new location if you can.
  • Decide on a clear first step for each project before you sit down to work, so you don’t have to think about it when it’s time to get started.
  • Prioritize sleep. (This will likely mean going to bed earlier.)
More creativity
When you’re looking for more great ideas:
  • Ease more downtime into your day. Go for a walk or run an errand without music or a podcast in your ear.
  • Upgrade the sources you look to for fresh insight. Sign up for a new newsletter, follow new people on Twitter or LinkedIn, start listening to a new podcast. Say goodbye to one or two you now feel obliged to keep up with. (I won’t hold it against you if you leave!)
  • Make time for interesting conversations with those people who always leave you energized and full of ideas.
More flexibility
When you get the feeling you’re too often trapped by your plans, and you want to be more responsive to what’s needed now: 
  • Sounds counter-intuitive, but make sure you have a clear idea each week about what’s truly important for you. Consistently setting clear priorities frees you up to otherwise do what you want.
  • Take charge of your time and set aside whole or half days for non-specified “Work.” This is time without meetings, and where you haven’t decided ahead of time what you’ll tackle. 
  • Designate one highlight each day. Select a single task to complete that will make you consider the day a success. Take care of that one thing and then feel free to rework the rest of the day’s schedule based on how your day progresses.
Getting more done
When you feel you’re not performing at your best and want to take steps to remedy that: 
  • Find an accountability partner. Make several appointments so you can try it out a few times and evaluate. Then go from there. That makes it easier to start. Someone suggested paring down your questions for one another to What went well? What could be better? and What are you going to accomplish this week? That makes things even easier.
  • Revisit your goals and make them a little more ambitious. Go for bigger results or move the end date up. What could you do to complete that project in half the time? How would you go about things if you had to wrap up work on a quarterly goal by the end of the week?
More downtime
When you’re swamped and could use some breathing room:
  • Quit some things. When we’ve got too much on our plate, we tend to let quality slide, accepting subpar work from ourselves. Or we keep plugging away, filling our free time with work. Neither tactic is ideal. Make choices instead. (The chopping block can help here.)
  • Use your calendar. Plan not only what work you’ll do when, but also when you’ll start working and – this is key – when you’ll stop
  • Set aside more time in your week for the things that give you energy, whether that’s exercising, cooking, reading, talking with friends, or watching your favorite series.
Let me know what you start experimenting with this week. 
Good luck and have a great week!

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