Grant, an author and psychologist, writes: “Prioritize the people and projects that matter [to you]… Often our productivity struggles are caused not by a lack of efficiency, but a lack of motivation.” When I look at how I’ve been choosing which fires to douse, it comes down to how I feel about the task. If it’s something I know I’ll enjoy I get it done pretty quickly, while things I don’t look forward to I delay until it’s absolutely necessary.
Truth is, it makes me feel guilty to focus first on the things I want to get done. We all have aspects of our work that need to get done even if we’re not feeling motivated. My takeaways from Grant on the importance of timing:
I’m more likely to do a boring task after a moderately interesting task, if I save my exciting task as a reward.
Choose a time of day that works for your circadian rhythm. Night owls and early birds have different moments of “peak alertness” and creativity spurts, and should manage their attention accordingly. As a night owl, I should be doing my analytical and routine work in the late afternoon or evenings when I’m most alert and able to focus. My creative work should be done in the mornings. For morning people that schedule flips—morning for routine work and creativity later in the day.
This framework has helped to free up some of the mental space being taken up by guilt and shame—which I can certainly use towards putting out some more fires.
How to prioritize
Prioritization can be especially difficult when you’re feeling uninspired Tim Herrera tackles the topic in “What to Do When You Feel Uninspired at Work,” in The New York Times, where he shares this tip from Liz Fosslien, author of No Hard Feelings (all about emotions in your work life): try to motivate yourself by remembering you’re part of a group, and your coworkers need you. “There’s not always external impact, but there’s internal impact,” she says.
CEO of Holloway Andy Sparks was just interviewed by Dan Shipper for his newsletter “Super Organizers,” which includes this bit of inspiration he got from Keith Rabois: “Your calendar should reflect your priorities.” I’ll definitely be following that advice.
I loved this Skimm’d from the Couch podcast episode with entrepreneur Mel Robbins, who provides some of the most practical advice I’ve heard: using the 5-second rule to reset your mind when you’re anxious, feeling shame, or other negative feelings (3:05), finding the reason behind a behavior or act you’re ashamed of (13:05), and how you can "[turn] anxiety into excitement" (33:30).
One way to get more done is to become a master delegator. Reading “A Guide to Delegating Tasks Effectively,” by Genevieve Conti, has illuminated not only why many of us (guilty!👋) find it difficult, but why delegating to your teammates builds trust and helps everyone succeed.
That’s Good Work for this week. Looking forward to what’s next.