In March I formed three habits with the intention of improving productivity and mindfulness. These form a foundation for the building of new habits in April.
In March, I:
- Avoided posting to Twitter and Facebook.
- Created a habit of ubiquitous capture.
- Created a process habit (inbox 0).
Avoided posting to Twitter and Facebook
Avoiding Twitter and Facebook posts was initially a way to reduce the number of knee-jerk reactionary postings I would make, mostly around politics. Like a lot of Americans, was (and am) frustrated. But the amount of venting I was doing was an indicator that I was granting my frustration too much space in my life.
I was in a cycle: get frustrated about something, immediately desire to vent about it. In order to vent about it; think about it even more to try to build somewhat cognizant thoughts around the topic. Then think about it even more after posting as people reply. In this one, one (sometimes trivial) frustration would become amplified and take up a non-trivial amount of my energy and time.
Avoiding those outlets for frustration has broken the amplification cycle.
Next I want to extend that benefit from an improved state of mind to improved productivity by avoiding reading of social media and news. More about that in the April planning post.
Created a habit of ubiquitous capture
I installed Wunderlist on my phone. Every todo or thought or task or plan, large or small, got captured in one “inbox” list. This list replaced at least three other methods I was using to try to keep track of what needs done. This ubiquitous capture habit replaced my email inboxes, scraps of paper and headspace.
If something needs to be done, I now feel confident that I can set it and forget it. If I have an idea or thought I now feel confident in immediately capturing it and knowing that I will get to it in time.
Knowing that my long list of todos and ideas is in one place has set a foundation for becoming better organized and more productive.
Next, I want to change my capture habit tools from phone to pencil/paper. More on that in a future post.
Created a process habit
Related to ubiquitous capture, I am now in the habit of processing my inboxes (online and physical) to zero. There’s much debate about the inbox zero approach. I won’t rehash it here. For me, it works. A long list of unread emails, a stack of un-processed physical mail, or a emails read but not acted upon all increase anxiety and act as roadblocks to getting big, productive work done.
Now with any “inbox” item I immediately either:
- delete it
- delegate it
- defer it
- archive it
Knowing that todos and ideas have at least been initially processed has reduced anxiety and increased motivation.
Next, I need to take advantage of my reduced anxiety and increased motivation to improve execution – e.g. get stuff actually done. Again, more about next steps on this habit in the next post.
Next steps in April
The habits formed in March do little by themselves to make improve productivity. Instead, their purpose is to clear the plate and lay a foundation for increases in productivity. The freed up time and headspace along with reduced anxiety are necessary to build the habits that will improve productivity.
In 31 days I created the habits of social media posting avoidance, ubiquitous capture, and inbox processing in order to clear the plate and build a foundation for new productivity habits over the next 30 days.