“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world”
– Archimedes

Some of you have been asking what systems I use for day to day productivity.

Once I’m clear about my intentions, big and small, the only thing I focus on is how fast can I make them reality? I want less thinking and more doing out of myself.

I’ve noticed I work best in sprints. Scheduling short bursts of focused activities that I’m clear on before I start gives me the energy and inspiration to want to dive into projects.

Flow science shows us if you want to get in “the zone” while you’re working it takes some time. You can’t do it in 5 minutes, but you don’t need an hour either. I’ve found 20 minutes is just about perfect for me and how I work.

Chunk size is also key. I’m not trying to do a whole project at one time. Just a bite size piece that if I worked on that – and that alone – would impact the bigger result.

How it works for me:

I pull out my iPhone. It’s almost always with me, might as well use it for some good.

I get clear on what the outcome is. It could be writing a first draft of this newsletter. It could be 3 x 5 min calls to clients. It could be signing my tax returns and getting them out the door. The point is it’s 20 minutes to complete something that would make an impact in my world.

I set the timer and get after it. “Flow” usually kicks in after about 10 minutes. I get lost in the process, in a good way, and I notice I get some of the best ideas right before the end of the segment.

The timer goes off – mine is set to play Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

It’s all about completion
The timer is set with a clear intention to complete something. The dreaded “I’m going to work on X” can be a huge time suck. As human beings we love to finish things, from marathons to books to projects. “Working on” is like a French Foreign Legion slog of drudgery, and in my book the number one thing we need to see in our endeavors is progress. If we can see we’re moving the ball forward that’s usually all we need to keep going.

The 20 minute flow chunk … here’s what it can do for you.

  1. It actually moves things in your world that you want moved – what a concept!
    2. Clarity – being bold enough to zero in on a 20 minute result takes away any gnawing sense of anxiety. You’re back in the drivers seat.
    3. It’s addictive. Your sense of accomplishment transfers to the bigger areas in your life. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between a big win and a small win. It just knows you won. The more you do it, the more you want to do it.

Next week, we’ll talk about how to string a bunch of these 20 minutes chunks into the 9 Box method. It’s hands down been my most important tool in producing results in the last few years.


=== > Your challenge
Experiment. If you have 20 minutes in your day somewhere, before you dive into dealing with an amorphous blob of “stuff” – whip out your phone – get clear on an outcome and GO!