How to work hard & with a plan

Today’s tips will help you work harder, more efficiently and with a plan.

With an ever growing to do list and a finite number of hours in the day you need to have a well-defined plan and a way to keep yourself motivated.

#1 Work Blocks

This is what my calendar looks like on any given day Monday-Friday.

Screenshot of work block calendar technique

I have reoccurring 45 and 90-minute work blocks every day of the week.

Every night before I go to bed (or sometimes the first thing in the morning) I think about what are the things that I need to accomplish the next day and edit each of the calendar entries.

This way it gives me a plan for the day/week and can actually accomplish my to-do list items.

In order for this technique to work you have to focus and only work on what you put into the calendar entries. You can’t be popping in and out of email, checking notifications on your phone or any other distractions. If you finish your task before the work block is up is a perfect time to catch up on notifications, do email triage or even just take a little break.

Play around with the length of work blocks to figure out how you work most effectively. Some people like work blocks as short as 20 minutes, or as long as 90 minutes. See what works best for you!

#2 Repeat Button

Yup. Just the repeat button. 

You might think I’m crazy, but I will listen to the same song for hours on end — and you should try it too.

In whatever music player you use, choose a specific song and just click the repeat button and play the song over and over whenever you need to accomplish deep work.

With the repetitions of the song, it gets your brain into a rhythm too. You stop thinking about time and only focus on the task at hand. Also, you’re not distracted by a new song that comes on every couple of minutes.

For example:

  • If I am writing I use a slower, natural, classical or ambient noise song to do that work.
  • If I am doing photo editing I use a high tempo, electronic song to power through the photos.

Find what songs work for you for whatever tasks you’re doing and get ready to destroy your to-do list!

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