Type “productivity tip” into Google search and you are likely to come up with more than 112 million hits. That’s because we are all trying to be more productive. This interest has caused dozens of productivity-based companies (tech and otherwise) to sprout up in recent years, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to pay a dime to be productive — just follow my single, easy tip:
Break out your day into chunks of six minutes.
It is as simple as that. I heard that lawyers do intricate tracking like this with their billable hours and that it works wonders, so about a year ago I decided to give it a try.
Here is what happened.
It was early 2014 when I came to work armed with a pen and a pad of paper. I was going to do this old school-style: no apps, no Excel spreadsheets. I looked at the clock: 8 a.m. I checked my email. I looked back at the clock: 8:06 a.m. OK, I was being productive. A colleague came into my office to chat about his weekend — a conversation I thought didn’t take long. I looked back at the clock: 8:19 a.m. Yikes, I’d just used up 13 minutes.
I wrote down my actions for each six-minute period that day. The exercise took time, but it proved shockingly enlightening. My productivity was not up to my standards. I knew I could do better.
I quit Facebook. I’d rather not disclose how much (off-work) time I was spending on that site. My time management journal started filling up. There are, after all, 1,440 minutes in a day — that is 240 six-minute groupings (less sleep, of course).
I started to tell my team about this concept and they decided to join in on the fun. Pretty soon, we were all tracking our productivity in six-minute increments. It didn’t take long before I saw projects being completed at lightening speed and an increased focus around the office.
I continued practicing what I like to call “the six-minute method” for a few more days and then gave it a rest. But in that little time, the practice had seeped into my subconscious and my productivity stayed high.
These days I practice the method about once a month, just to keep me on task. I highly recommend you do the same, especially if your responsibilities at work change frequently. Test it out and report back — you will be amazed at the results.