The First Question to Ask Yourself When You Sit Down to Work
What would you get done if you only had until 10:30 a.m. to work today? Do that first.
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon an incredibly useful thought exercise I’m calling “the 10:30 a.m. question.” It occurred to me when my part of Pennsylvania got hit with a heavy winter storm one Wednesday. The forecast called for snow, heavy winds, and ice, and the power company warned of potential outages. I worried I’d only have until mid-morning, 10:30 or so, to work.
Like most people who work from home, I rely on my internet connection. So, knowing I might be sitting unplugged and in the dark on Thursday, I approached my Wednesday with a razor-sharp sense of purpose.
I asked myself: “How can I plan my workday around a power outage?” I looked ahead and noted anything that had to happen over the next two days. I shuffled my calendar around to finish those tasks by quitting time on Wednesday. The pace was swift but — to be honest — not terrible. I spent less time in my inbox. I fended off distractions.
Then, miraculously, the power never went out. Thursday became a relaxed day with extra time for sledding with my kids. I realized that I could actually plan my days this way even when there’s not a snowstorm — and you can too.
How to Beat Procrastination Like a Stoic Philosopher
Seven tactics from the ancient world that have stood the test of time
“Power out” your procrastination
It turns out that when you tackle your must-dos with urgency, time can open up. Indeed, this winter storm suggested a sneaky but effective productivity strategy: Get in the habit of pretending the power is going to go out soon, and you can conquer some serious procrastination tendencies.
Procrastinating — as most of us know well — is putting off things we know we should do. Some surveys find that about one in five people are chronic procrastinators. But everyone delays tasks from time to time, especially when the tasks seem complicated, or the deadline doesn’t feel immediate. Creating some…