Don’t wait until you have time to “start from scratch”. How can I reduce overtime hours?

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I remember that when I first entered the workplace in my early years, I often worked overtime until late at night, and even stayed up for many days before some projects were completed. It was normal to not sleep on the final deadline. In many cases, weekends and holidays often become rush hours, and the holidays are still closed to work all day.

But a few years later, my wife suddenly asked me, “Why don’t you seem to see you working overtime recently? It seems that the situation that you used to stay up late at night to catch up with work has disappeared?” “Could it be your workload? Fewer now? Or are you older now and don’t care?”

It was only then that I realized that I really had such a change, but in fact, my workload has increased a lot compared to that year (plus the slash business, parent-child time, etc.), so it is What are the reasons why I no longer need to work overtime and stay up late to catch up?

In my latest online course ” Personal Digital Productivity ” (for “limited time” use the old reader discount code ESOR500 to get the lowest discount) , I hope to use 30 productivity modules to help everyone meet the requirements of reducing overtime hours, improving work, The needs of life and learning efficiency.

Disassemble the action, use the piecemeal time, don’t wait until “there is time” to “start from scratch”

In the past, I used to wait until I had a full time to “start” to do important things. If there are disturbances, chores, and daily working hours with various meeting schedules, I feel that I cannot concentrate on important tasks. But it is precisely because of this kind of thinking that daily working hours are often used to deal with various trivial emails and instant messaging, so when can you do “important” things?

To be able to have a long period of complete time that you can fully control, there are probably only two “overtime” periods that sacrifice your time, staying up late and getting up early, but you will still encounter several problems at this time:

  • If you stay up late or get up early to work overtime, you may not be in good spirits, and you still need to go to work on time during the day, and your body will gradually be unable to bear it.
  • Even when it’s time to stay up late or get up early, you often don’t have the motivation to deal with important things, and even waste more time.

Later, I found out that this thinking mode of “wait until I have time to do it from scratch” is problematic. It seems that important things should be reserved for the time to focus, but the problem is that it is difficult to wait for this kind of focus at work. time. On the other hand, when you really have time, if you still “do it from scratch”, it will lead to greater pressure and lower efficiency, so it will take more time.

In such a workflow, one of my key changes is to “use the piecemeal time first, and gradually advance the preparation of important tasks.”

In this way, for an important task that has already completed 70% of the preparation progress, I only need to find a shorter focus gap to complete the remaining 30% of the important content, and there will be less pressure when there is a focus gap. More motivated to finish the remaining part efficiently.

For example, for an important briefing report, it is very difficult to figure out the content that everyone agrees with in the meeting, but in any case, there must be some basic data preparation, the briefing structure can be done first, and the conclusion of the report can also be disassembled into the ideas in the mind and organized. Form a simple outline, solve the solvable problems first, find important problem information and other decomposed actions. These “dismantling actions” can be completed in different fragmented time periods first, so that the “basic content” of important presentations can be completed first . (Extended reading: Disassemble the thinking flow chart template for the next action, and you can also do the reference steps to focus and not be busy )

In the end, I just need a shorter focus gap to sort out the conclusion clearly. Instead of waiting until I really have time, I have to prepare materials, make structures, sort out outlines, find problem materials, etc., so that even if I stay up late and work overtime, I can’t finish it.

At this final stage, maybe I just deliberately set aside the first hour of work in the morning, or a one-hour gap in the afternoon work to complete it, without using the time of staying up late or waking up early to work overtime.

Continue to accumulate, promote results, and use the offensive calendar to protect the target time

From the previous experience, I also realized that dealing with long-term important projects requires the same thinking and workflow. (Extended reading: In addition to protecting “temporary concentration”, we need tools to improve “long-term concentration” )

The daily work is already very busy, and there are endless new tasks and new accidents to be dealt with. It takes a lot of time just to complete the daily emails and temporary assignments on Instant Messenger. How can there be time and motivation to promote long-term work? What about important projects? However, if the long-term and important projects cannot be started as soon as possible, then it is often necessary to deal with temporary accidents and urgent and important projects at the same time when it is more urgent. Instead, it becomes necessary to work overtime to complete .

In addition to the problem of procrastinating long-term important projects, I also found that sometimes when we are dealing with long-term projects, it is easy to fall into the percentage of researching and preparing data, but not really advancing the “results”, that is, it is very likely that we have been collecting data , thinking about ideas, but the progress of the project is still 0% .

I have encountered all the above-mentioned problems in the early stage of work, and this makes me often have to work overtime crazy in the final stage of important projects, and may not be able to complete them on time.

But such problems cannot be solved simply by “starting work early”, because I also tried to advance the schedule in the early days, but firstly, I didn’t have the motivation and wanted to procrastinate, and secondly, I did things but there seemed to be no progress.

Therefore, the real solution is to “start promoting effective results early.”

For example, when I was writing the book “Bulletproof Notebook Method” (extended reading: How do I use the Bulletproof Notebook Method to complete the new book “Bulletproof Notebook Method”? Process Practical Chapter ), I took a similar approach. I first arranged a month To revise the outline methodology based on the progress of the offensive calendar , use at least 30 minutes every day to revise the outline, and establish the structure, focus, and operation steps of each chapter. Then I arranged for two months to supplement the case and the draft, and use an hour of time every day to supplement the actual content of the draft. In the end, I arranged for a month, at least two to three hours a day to promote the completion of an article.

The advantage of this is that I will not spend a lot of time looking for information and going around in circles. In the last one or two months, I will get the outline, draft, and official article all at once. Difficult to adapt, leaving more time every day, and finally ended up working overtime.

In addition, “effective results” means that, compared to finding information, starting to build an outline is the real result. Compared with continuous research, starting to produce drafts is the actual result. Not just start early, but promote effective results early. Even if you just accumulate the simple parts first, it can help reduce the pressure of the next stage, and it does help the next stage require less time.

And when it came to the final stage of the ” Bulletproof Note-taking Method ” project, in fact, at that time, I also encountered the task of early preparation for the online course ” Personal Digital Productivity ” and the task of project planning. The latter was not in my initial time expectation. . But also because I have already finished the outline and draft of the Bulletproof Notes method, so even if there is a new project to be scheduled in the final stage, I can still complete an official article every day with relatively little overtime. The legal project was successfully completed .

Build a second brain to cope with various disturbances and unexpected workflows by taking notes and reviewing at any time

Although the above method can effectively reduce overtime hours, but to effectively accumulate task progress, promote target results, and make full use of various fragmented idle time, the following two problems need to be solved:

  • In fact, in our daily work process, we often have a lot of breakthrough ideas, we will inadvertently see some useful information, and we will generate some useful experiences at unexpected times, but usually these ideas, materials, and experiences will be in the busy work. Put it into running water, it is still difficult to find or even forget when you need it later, and in the end you still start from scratch every time .
  • Many times we hope to reduce disturbances and accidents, but the actual situation is that there will always be unexpected disturbances and accidents. Therefore, in the process of continuous interruption of work, in the process of dealing with those emergencies, we are constantly working Too much time wasted switching .

These two problems can actually be solved in the same way, that is, to build a second brain, to take notes and review one’s own tasks at any time.

  • Maybe you are not familiar with a new job, but as long as you can write down the problems that occurred this time, the action to solve, and the important ideas, you will not only get better when you do this new job, but also when you do a similar job next time. You can copy the last completion experience, this time it will take an hour, maybe it will only take 20 minutes next time .
  • Many times we spend our time thinking about what to do and what we want to do, but if we have a second brain to record the progress of the current task, the next action, and the required information at any time, then even if we are often interrupted from work, the next If I have a second brain telling me what to do the first time I come back, I just start doing it. At this time, even in a work environment that is constantly interrupted, I can reduce the thinking time wasted when switching jobs .

In the early days, I also felt that I hoped that my work could reduce meetings and temporary unexpected interruptions, but this kind of thinking made it easier for me to have a mentality of waiting until I stayed up late and worked overtime before starting important work.

A more efficient way is to prepare the workflow of the second brain so that you are not afraid of interference and accidents. Even if you are interrupted in the middle, you can save time and wasteful switching tasks, and even many tasks can be done faster.

So slowly, my second brain helped me save more working hours and reduce the need to work overtime. The time for doing chores is shortened due to the copying of previous experience. When switching jobs, the previous progress and data can be quickly retrieved, and it is less prone to errors when dealing with continuous switching and changing jobs.

Even more often, you will be in a state of calm and relaxed mind, and you will not be so anxious about the large number of projects and tasks that have not been completed.

Process workflows more efficiently with tools that save steps to deliver results

I love to study all kinds of digital tools, which is the inspiration for writing about computer toys. However, in the research of digital tools for many years, I gradually adjusted the focus of using tools to the thinking mode of “how to save steps to produce results” . I used to think that the functions are very powerful and the tools are beautiful, so I want to use this tool. When there are new functions, I feel that I must find a way to use them in the workflow, but this may make the work take more time. things that actually produce results.

So then my thinking about using tools became, can this save me a few work steps to produce results. My focus then shifts from the functionality of the tool to problem solving, tweaking and simplification in my own workflow . And I’ve found that it saves me a lot of time.

For example, in the early days, I might use a lot of tools to help me focus to avoid distraction. Often the first time because of the “freshness” of the tools, there will be some effect, but after a long time, the effect will gradually lose effect, and even become a waste of time. On the tools, not on the results of your own tasks.

But when I go back to my workflow and reflect, what was the cause of the distraction? When I have to go back to email, IM to confirm something, it’s hard not to get distracted. Even on the same computer hard drive, the data for the same task is scattered in different folders, and it is easy to get distracted. When I can only see a bunch of messy information and a bunch of scattered actions, I feel that my system is chaotic and my work is complicated. Of course I want to be distracted and procrastinated.

So at this time, I found that the first logic of using tools is to integrate the messy fragments with task logic first, without going back to the scattered work management to check. And this time, even the simplest Google Docs can solve the distraction problem, as long as we master the effective workflow.

As a result, I spend less time playing with tools, but the steps to actually produce task results are simpler and more time-consuming, so I don’t need to work overtime to complete the task.

I am currently pre-purchasing the online course ” Personal Digital Productivity|Esor’s 30 Problem-Solving, Habit-forming, Efficient Output, and Time-Management Modules for Computer Toys ” that is being pre-purchased for a “limited time” . The work process is improved, and I want to help more friends solve the vicious circle of too many trivial matters, no progress in important matters, and too much work pressure, so I have to work overtime . (“Limited time limit” use the old reader discount code ESOR500 to get the lowest discount)

Although it is necessary to use digital tools, it must conform to the logic of simplifying steps, and use the simplest tools and steps to achieve maximum time saving and result advancement. This is hoping that friends who are not good at digital tools can also find that they can get started quickly, and break the myth of playing with tools.

Daniel J. Brown

Daniel J. Brown (Editor-in-Chief) is a recently retired data analyst who gets a kick out of reading and writing the news. He enjoys good music, great food, and sports, with a slant towards Southern college football, basketball and professional baseball.

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