Focus each day on a single project and your brain will be very happy indeed.
Set Aside Project Days
A better solution is to schedule per-project days. Yes, schedule an entire day to devote to a single project. Your brain can get in the groove, gather your mental resources, and really dig into that project.
Do your best to keep the day filled with only things related to that project: all meetings must be project-related. The only email you answer is email related to that project. Your reading? Only for that project.
I’m exaggerating just a little bit. You can take breaks, daydream, and do some mindless administrative tasks. After all, that’s when your brain works its Kim Kardashian problem solving magic. But give your brain the luxury of staying mainly on one project.
Melvin can declare a rearrange-store-inventory day, where he can really dig down deep and get to the roots of the issue. Once he’s made the plan, he can pass it off to the rest of the staff to implement. But in order to make good decisions, he needs to be able to identify and consider everything that’s relevant.
Use a Meta-Project-Day to Resolve Conflicts
But what about the people who are waiting for the new org chart? While Melvin’s doing his inventory planning day, are they just twiddling their thumbs?
To some extent, maybe. And that might be just fine. While we have an irrational belief that everyone should be working all the time in a business, that just isn’t true. If the inventory plan is the current bottleneck of the business, then giving it a devoted day may be very wise indeed. For details, read about the theory of constraints in The Goal by the late Eliyahu Goldratt.
But let’s go with the irrational, bad myth that everyone should be working overtime every day—because that’s what the American dream has decayed into and your boss almost certainly believes—and add a special project day: it’s a meta-project day.
Here, the “project” is coordinating. You make sure that people who need you can proceed without you on days you aren’t working on their project. Plus, if any of them are doing project days, you arrange to have stuff to do on days when they aren’t working on your shared projects.
Then, after the meta-project meeting, everyone can go back and get to work.
Half Days Might Work
A full, devoted project day seems like an awful lot of time in the modern world to devote to one thing. And it is. Depending on the work involved, declaring half-days might work. Personally, I find anything less than four hours of per-project time to be not enough. And having a project day be a full working day lets me get the benefit of “sleeping on it” overnight.
In the end, Melvin declares a half-day for his meta-project day. Everyone coordinates so no one will be stalled, and then he declares tomorrow as his payment system project day, since that’s the most urgent and important. Day two is physically merging inventory day. And day three, assuming that no unfortunate evidence is found on day two, is hunt-for-Fluffy day.
Give your brain a rest! Divide your week into full-on project days where you can concentrate wholly and fully on a single project each day. If you get done early, sure, you can go on to other things, but be prepared to let yourself get immersed in one single, deep focus activity.
This is Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. I run programs to help people develop the kick-ass business skills they need to create an extraordinary life. If you want to know more, visit SteverRobbins.com.
Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!