Productivity is an issue one can easily become attached to. It is what Marc Andreessen calls Productivity Porn. I am also someone who likes to try new methods and new apps in order to manage my life more efficiently. In the past years, I downloaded dozens of apps, tried different productivity methods and I experimented with my sleep schedule to find out what works best for me.
I came up with my own productivity method or ritual which I will simply call The Schober Productivity Method.
The Schober Productivity Method is basically a combination of the Ivy Lee Method, Marc Andreessen’s Index Card Method, Timeboxing of Deep Work Sessions, weekly Brain Dumps, and a daily reminder to stay on track.
Let’s get straight to the point. Here is how the Schober Productivity System works.
Three Lists: Action, Watch, and Keep
Create three different lists by using a software of your choice.
Action List: The first list is called your Action List. The Action List is a collection of all your important and urgent tasks you “must” do soon. In short: tasks you must take action on.
Watch List: The second list is called your Watch List. In this list you collect all the tasks you don’t need to do immediately but tasks you should keep an eye on for the near future.
Keep List: The third list is called your Keep List. This is a collection or dump of all your tasks, to-dos, ideas, emails, phone calls, and so forth. But you don’t want to do them now, not tomorrow but in the future. The Keep List is simply a list of tasks you want to keep for future reference.
If you work on multiple projects, you can create for each project three separates Action, Watch, and Keep Lists.
Sunday Review & Plan
Every Sunday evening, take one hour to sit down to review and plan your lists.
First Step: Brain Dump
Open an empty piece of paper, an empty to-do list or a blank document and start a 25-minute timer. Now you write down everything that is on your mind. Everything. Whether it is a business task, a chore, or a phone call. Write everything down and don’t leave anything out. Don’t stop “dumping” until the timer is over.
Second Step: Organize
Now you sort all tasks into the appropriate list. Take a look at each task and ask yourself: Should this task go into the Action, Watch, or Keep List? Then put it there.
Third Step: Review your Keep List
In the last step, you review your Keep List. Move tasks which became important or urgent to your Action or Watch List and delete all tasks which became redundant or were settled during the past week.
Every night, before going to bed, take some time to plan your priorities for the next day.
Every night you take a few minutes to plan your next day ahead. Review your Action List and – if necessary – add important tasks to it.
Choose the 6 most important tasks which you want to accomplish tomorrow. For the upcoming day, you create a new list called “Today’s Targets”. Now you insert your 6 most important tasks and order them according to their importance.
Your two most important tasks become your “Absolute Priorities”. You don’t go to bed before you accomplish your two absolute priories. They get done, full stop.
Tasks 3 to 6 are your Important Tasks. If you don’t accomplish your Important Tasks, then it’s not the end of the world. Rearrange them during your next nightly planning session and then postpone them to the next day or a later date.
Deep Work Blocks
After you have set your targets for tomorrow, open your calendar and schedule 2-hour Deep Work Blocks into it. One Deep Work Block consists of 2-hours of absolutely uninterrupted and focussed work. Schedule as many Deep Work Blocks into your calendar as you can, or as you estimate you’ll require to accomplish your 6 priorities.
Every morning review and commit to your priorities.
In the morning, you review your Today’s Targets List and your Deep Work Blocks. If some circumstances require you to reschedule, then do so. If not, fully commit and attack your absolute priority!
In the middle of your day refocus and recommit.
In the middle of your day – for some people this may be 2PM, for others 6PM – take one minute and refocus. To do so, set a reminder on your phone and call it “REFOCUS”. As soon the alarm tone of your reminder goes, take a deep breath, open your Today’s Targets List and your calendar and review the progress you have made so far. Now recommit and decide how you are going to use the second half of your day.
Three things to keep you on track.
Collect New Tasks
Collect all tasks which may pop into your head during the day and sort them into one of your three lists: Action, Watch, or Keep.
Always Finish Your Absolute Priority
There is no excuse, you don’t go to bed before you have not accomplished your two absolute priorities. If you did, great!
Do It Anyways
Sometimes I don’t feel like working at all and I subconsciously start working on stupid and unimportant things or watch some unimportant videos on YouTube. As soon I realize that I’m telling myself: “Don’t be a cunt!” Then I sit down, start a Pomodoro timer and I do it anyways.
I’m not perfect and while I try to follow my Schober Productivity Method daily, there are days when I slack. And immediately the results are slacking too. This method is a combination of several concepts I came across in the past 7 years. It works like magic for me. Try to implement this into your life and let me know of your results!