Do you use a to-do list? Good. Does it ever get shorter? If you’re like me – not really. My to-do list is long and it seems to get longer all the time. But I’ll come clean and tell you right now that, as important as productivity is, I’m never going to finish it. I’m not even going to try. Why? Because the effort just isn’t worth it. I look at my to-dos all the time, and every time I look at my list, I consider what my goals are, what the context is around me, and I start to assign priorities to my tasks. Many tasks never get done. They were born as a fleeting thought. Potentially good ideas that came about in relation to something else. The tasks took a little breath, survived long enough to make it onto my list, but things changed, projects moved on, now they’re tagged as “low priority”, and in a few months they’ll probably be deleted. To-dos can only survive in low-priority mode for so long before their sheer existence causes me more annoyance than their eventual potential is worth.
“How did you sleep last night?” That’s a question I’ve been asking my wife a lot lately. She’s pregnant, you see, with a little over a month left to go, and her body is less and less her own. She wakes up and can’t go back to sleep, sometimes for hours at a time, and she doesn’t know why. Some literature says it’s simply nature’s way of getting us ready for recurring, ongoing, sleep deficiency with a newborn baby.
Recurring, ongoing, sleep deficiency… lovely.
So you can understand if the topic of sleep has been on my mind a lot lately. I know how important the quality of sleep is to your health, mental acuity, productivity, and general happiness (for a great read on the theory that supports this, see John Medina’s Brain Rules). I’ve battled insomnia over the years, and I’ve spent many nights counting the hours of sleep I would get – if I got to sleep now – until my alarm would go off. “How can you fall asleep so soon?” I would silently ask my wife as she lay there in blissful dreamland, in her pre-pregnancy days. I want to know the secret!
Unfortunately, there is no secret (at least, none that has yet been discovered). Some of us are simply tuned differently. However, there are some things you can do to make sleep as conducive as possible. Read on for nine tips that have been proven to help.
I have a friend who told me he regularly has to sit through two-hour long weekly team meetings. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry with him. Such a massive investment in time and money. Put your typical team of 10 into a boardroom for two hours, and that meeting has just cost the company about $1,000 in wages. Keep it up for a year, and the company is down about $50K. And that’s just one team. It is unlikely that this company generates sufficient return from these team pow-wows to merit such frivolousness with employee time. Conducting good meetings is an important skill. Here are some tips for keeping them as short and as productive as possible.
Serenity, productivity, calm, efficiency, control. That’s how I feel when I clear my inbox and start checking things off my to-do list. How do I consistently reach this promised land of inbox zero? I just follow these five simple rules.
David Folkerson5 rules for achieving and maintaining inbox zero
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