Most of you will be familiar with the phrase ‘work smart’, but how many of you are familiar with the productivity guru David Allen?
Loved by everyone from eminent entrepreneurs to corporate CEOs, Allen wrote the first edition of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity in 2001, before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram came along to turn out attention spans to mush.
Since then, his thinking has become still more relevant and is a bible for many entrepreneurs who juggle large numbers of demands on their time.
If it can be done in two minutes, do it now
This is the Two-Minute Rule. If a task crosses your desk that can be completed in two minutes – do it immediately. If not, file it according to context, and priority level.
When your brain knows it has to do something, that little task leaves a mark on your unconscious. If it’s in your mind, your mind isn’t clear. So if it can be done quickly, then do it now.
Do an 80/20 analysis
An 80/20 analysis involves figuring out the 20% of your activities that lead to 80% of the results you want, as well as the 20% of your activities that consume 80% of your time.
Any overlap, or lack thereof, informs how you can use your time more efficiently, says Tim Ferriss, author of “The Four-Hour Workweek.”
“As a business owner, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of being busy, and being busy is not necessarily productive,” Ferriss told Business Insider.
“When you focus on the right things, and eliminate time spent on unhelpful tasks, you become more effective.”
Allocate a specific amount of time to do each task
“A task I estimate will take 15 minutes to complete will usually be done in 10 or 15 since I am focused on getting that done during the set time. Without setting a deadline I may wander and do other things causing this one task to take 30 or even 45 minutes.”
Like many entrepreneurs, Dorie Clark, an author, marketing strategist and professional speaker at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business schedules email “sprints” of 20–25 minutes (following the Pomodoro Technique) and focuses on more complicated emails during the morning.
Tie your energy levels to your tasks
Some tasks require vast mental energy. Some are more physical. Given the energy you have available and your energy levels, what should you do when?
Write down the project that’s most consuming to you at the moment. And the action you need to take to make it happen. Reacting is automatic, thinking is not.