Productivity Hacks: How To Make Time for What You Love
This post is part of a series in which LinkedIn Influencers share their secrets to being more productive. See all their productivity hacks here.
Almost everyone remembers Venn diagrams, those circles with the shaded areas where they overlap. For me, they’re more than a throwback to high school; they’re the key to how I can make the best use of my time. When I think of my schedule, I picture three interlocking circles: what I love to do, what I have to do and what I hate to do. My creative challenge is finding the intersection between what I have to do and what I love to do. And turning the hate to do into something more tolerable (especially when it can’t be outsourced).
Love To/Have To
I’m always trying to figure out how to carve out time for things I like and move tasks from the hate to/have to intersection into the love to/have to intersection. For example, I have to exercise but it used to be a chore. I love dancing and kickboxing, so I focus my efforts there.
A pertinent example from work: I hate email – it’s soul sucking. But it also has undeniable value – it falls in the intersection between hate to do and have to do. So I often do triage and try to knock as many emails off my list as possible by tackling the yes/no emails and ignoring the tl;dr (“too long; didn’t read”) emails. Paradoxically, my “leader board” of fewer emails looks good, but it\’s not real productivity. I end up doing more of what I hate. So I’ve learned to focus my attention on the most-critical have-to-dos first, and then \’reward\’ myself by a flurry of quick-hit answer-and-deletes.
Keeping My Venn Diagram Aligned
That brings me to the second part of my productivity scheme. A few years ago, my boss, GE CEO Jeff Immelt, told me that he controls his calendar very strategically, so I thought I would do well to follow. I call it my weekly workout with my calendar. It’s how I align to the Venn.
First, I\’ll review the past week and look at how much time I spent on key goals. Measuring my time in that way helps me stick to tasks that are mission critical. This is how I learned that I was spending too much time on less important email tasks and less-valuable meetings.
Next, I compile a summary of what I’ve accomplished and what needs to be done, and then adjust the next week’s schedule accordingly. This is where I think of how to tackle things that must be done and are truly worthwhile, particularly those emails that require me to think deeply about the response. Harder is scheduling enough quality time to think and read – I’ve found you have to lock this in and keep it sacred.
Having time to think is the ultimate love to/have to task. These days, that mostly happens when I’m on a long plane trip. There\’s something about having my head in the clouds that helps me be more thoughtful. Not surprisingly, I’m writing this 36,000 feet above Colorado.