Be more productive in 2017 (Day 1: Climb your mountains on Monday morning)

img_1940Lots of people hope to be more productive in the new year. But what does that mean? I’m not sure I know, but I do know that this week I will be offering five suggestions of habits that will not only have a big impact, they’re entirely doable too. Implement these and you might get everything you plan to do in 2017 done by March!

Day 1: Climb your mountains on Monday morning

Today’s habit is, naturally, a Monday habit. Many of us have big, important, long-term projects we’re trying to make progress on. We also have overflowing inboxes and small tasks that need to get done very soon. It feels more productive to hack through the long list of stuff that needs to happen, and tell ourselves that we will get to the more nebulous, important-but-not-urgent stuff later.

But often, days and weeks can get away and the big stuff keeps getting pushed off. Waiting to see what time is left over leads to no time being left over. That’s never a crisis, but it can lead to a sense of spinning one’s wheels.

So, instead, block in your most important work for first thing Monday morning. You’ll be fresh, and you’ll start your week on a high note. What has to get done will get done, but the good thing about this approach is that what doesn’t have to get done will get done too.

You can also do a scaled down version of this daily. Carve out a power hour during the first hour of your workday for your most important tasks. Then wade into the inbox. Email will expand to fill all available space; seizing that first hour is a good way to fight back.

In other news: The paperback of I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time will be out tomorrow, Tuesday, January 3. This time diary study of 1001 days in the lives of professional women and their families shows that with the right strategies, plenty of people juggle big jobs and full personal lives just fine. If you’ve already read the book, thank you! Would you consider buying a copy for someone else in your life? I appreciate it.

Also, stay tuned: I’ll be doing a New Year’s time-tracking challenge next week, starting January 9. If you’ve ever wanted to try tracking your time, that would be a good week to play along! You can sign up for daily motivational emails here.

12 thoughts on “Be more productive in 2017 (Day 1: Climb your mountains on Monday morning)

  1. Have you read Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg? This made my list of “best books of 2016”, and is unlike any other book on productivity I’ve read. Really gripping!

  2. Ooh, this is interesting. I was just observing how I seem to need a warm-up period on monday mornings. I’m most productive Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Not sure whether this is something I need to fix, or honor?

    1. @Byrd- if something works for you, it works. That’s my thought! That said, sometimes a Monday morning warm-up is because we haven’t quite identified what it is we should be working on. Planning weeks on Fridays (which is another tip coming up later this week…) can help solve that issue. If you start Monday excited about the first thing you’ll be doing, you might not need a warm-up. The Monday morning mountain technique is also especially useful if you have some long term project you are just not making time for otherwise. E.g. the thing that gets shunted to the end of the week (and then shunted to the next week, because you run out of time). If you’re making progress on all your goals, then do them whenever works for you.

    2. I’ve actually noticed the same thing. I think part of it is because my weekends are so full of family activities that I need Monday to recover and regroup for the week.

      However, I have discovered that when I am focused, I can get more done in the 45 minutes right after I wake up than the rest of morning combined. I get up at 5am so I have an hour before waking the kids. That time used to be spent on reading/personal reflection. But now I realize it’s my most productive hour of the day so I put it to good use.

  3. Great suggestions. I find I’m most productive on Mondays, getting a ton of stuff done. If I have a good Monday, the rest of the week seems to fall into place. I do sometimes find myself dawdling with email and blog reading during high-energy times and still need to work on that. You might be right that it’s because I’m not sure what I should be working on.

  4. Just curious – do you integrate the Eisenhower decision matrix when you set up your to-do list and decide on your “mountains”?

    Also, any thoughts on approaches like Kanban, sprints, or other approaches from the Agile software development mindset?

    Finally, it’s not related to this post, but an earlier one – our family (with 3 kids – ages 11, 8 & 5) had a great vacation at Franklyn D. Resort in Jamaica. Every room includes a dedicated “vacation nanny” – which is so nice so that parents have time to scuba, snorkel, or just relax.

    1. @Brooke – I’m not an expert in agile, or the Eisenhower decision matrix, but the latter sounds quite intriguing! I have heard of the vacation nanny resorts – sounds quite nice. We have often taken sitters along on vacation to have an extra set of hands. And make it more of a vacation 🙂

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