Shane Black Daily Blog

Creating soft rules for productivity

A way to become more productive in your daily life is to create rules for yourself.

Soft rules that you implement and use throughout the day with the purpose of becoming more productive and reducing overwhelm.

I say the word “soft” because these aren’t hard rules I have to live by, these are just ideas I put in place to try and make my days more productive. If I don’t stick to one of these rules, because it makes sense not to at the time, I don’t beat myself up about it.

Here are a few ways I’ll use soft rules:

  • My list of podcast episodes is often long and can be a time suck if I scroll through trying to find what I listen too. So my rules are I have to listen to an episode that appears on the screen at the top. I have to choose one of them. And, if there is more than one from the same podcaster, I have to listen to one of those episodes.
  • Generally, I won’t let myself spend more than 3 hours on something. Although at times I feel I could keep going, I know after 3 hours I start to drop in the efficiency of the work I’m doing. If I really want to keep going, I have a break for an hour doing something else and then come back to it.
  • I’m ok with checking email throughout the day. But, I make sure all of my news, investing, and newsletter emails get filtered off into a label/folder and bypass my main inbox. Checking email throughout the day is primarily for finding anything that I need to address and get onto. I won’t read the other emails until I have the time of an evening or the weekend.
  • Do my writing first thing in the morning. I find if I don’t do my writing, in particular these daily blogs, first up I then struggle to get it written for the day. For whatever reason, they take twice as long if I try and get into writing mode later in the day.
  • Always scheduling lunch with other tasks, such as checking emails, updating social, listening to podcasts or reading a book. While I’m preparing or waiting for lunch, this is time that I can be productive.

As you can see, these aren’t anything big or life-changing. But they are just simple rules that work for me and help me stay productive and not get too overwhelmed with too much information or choices at one time.

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