I finally finished Deep Work, by Cal Newport, and immediately started reading it again. I started it as soon as I finished because it was so chock full of amazing recommendations for how to employ deep work that I needed to read it again to make sure I absorbed everything.
While I’ll give you an update later once I finish it for the second time, the advice that I have taken to heart is to try to only do the things that are “wildly important.” The book defines wildly important as the items on your To-Do List that really give you forward momentum toward goals you’re trying to achieve. Drop the rest, as they are inconsequential.
I have modified this a little bit as my goals spread throughout time as short-term goals, year-from-now goals, and 10-years-from-now goals. This girl has got goals out the ying-yang, but what may not feel wildly important in the short-term may be setting me up for hitting a very long-term goal.
First, about my list.
Currently, my to-do list lives in two places. The reoccurring items are set up in my Asana so that they automatically show up when they’re supposed to. I then have my Elephant Lists (written about before here) in the back of my Evo Planner so I can reference them when I’m allotting time dedicated to certain projects. And then, I have those projects listed, as well as some random tasks I’d like to get done in a particular month in the monthly section of the Evo Planner.
I then look at the amount of time I have available in the week to work on my side-hustle and community-building projects. Depending on where I am in my monthly cycle (yes, TMI, but terribly important when figuring out how much you can/should cram into your day), I’ll calculate how much energy/time/effort I will use for my projects.
Once I know the amount of time available, I start to add to the weekly section of my Evo Planner the items that must get done this week. Then, if I have time left over, I then grab items from my Elephant Projects and random tasks.
But to help me only work on the REALLY wildly important, I have developed a sub-categorization system, kind of like how Franklin Covey recommends it, but a little differently. (I’ve written about the F-C technique before here.) I then try to label as many of the projects on the weekly section of the Evo Planner with these categories:
- W – Wildly Important – yes, this is a little redundant since the only things making it to my to-do list are wildly important, but if I’m labeling them also with a W then this is the REALLY REALLY wildly important
- R – Revenue Generating – with my side hustle, there are some tasks that directly drive revenue and others that don’t. I’ve started to peel off the ones that don’t by either delegating or scrapping completely (bye-bye bi-monthly blog posts that “no one” is reading, except for Dr. Jack’s… not jealous at all). But every once in a while, some admin tasks will slip in there, so they don’t get marked as anything… unless it’s so crucial it gets done and not get pushed off the list that I’ll actually mark it with a W.
- C – Community building – I am on three boards (and that’s my personal limit for this year, so don’t ask…). Because I have obligated myself to perform certain functions and seeing these boards be successful, it’s important that I pay attention to these items when they come my way and are due soon.
If a Revenue Generating item also has a time constraint by being due very soon, I’ll slap a W in front of it and it turns into a WR. If the Community Task has a time constraint by being due very soon, I’ll turn it into a WC.
So I then prioritize my projects for the week as follows:
If something else comes up that is Wildly Important or Revenue Generating, guess what I’m going to cut off the list first and second? Yup, The Blanks and then Community Building. They can wait until next week and they may get labeled as a WC or W then, but that just means they get higher on the list and will then get done.
Does reading this make you feel exhausted? As I tell a lot of my friends and colleagues who listen to all I have going on and how I manage it, this has taken years of figuring out time management. Even as I read new things, like Deep Work, I incorporate new ways of thinking. And my technique won’t work for everyone. Depending on how you compartmentalize information and how you manage your own expectations, another way may be better for you.
So if any of this process sparked your interest in figuring out how to manage your time a little better, I’m happy to pull out my bag of tricks and help you develop something that works for you. I’ll make you take a couple of quizzes so we can figure out how best your brain works and then find good tools that will help reinforce your new habits.
I actually didn’t start writing this blog post to pitch my idea of helping you with Time Management. I had promised myself that I would still dedicate one day to creative writing, and this is what my brain had decided to want to tackle. It wasn’t until two paragraphs above where I realized that I could really help you! And so, in true Patti-fashion, I’ll throw this idea out there:
Hire me to help you figure out how you can best manage your time. Or hire me to help your team with their time management. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a personalized quote today!
End of Sales Pitch 🙂