The three best efficiency tips I’ve ever found

So, this week I’ve packed up and racked off to Bali for “annual leave” (are such things relevant when you work for yourself?). I’ve vowed not to work. So I’m posting in advance a short best-of series. I’ve been on this experiment…trying different tricks and meeting various gurus for just over a year. Some work. Some don’t. Some are legit. Some need to start practicing what they preach a little more!! Which have worked? Well… part two of the best-of series…. plus an entirely gratuitous shot of a VERY handsome man. Because it’s a Thursday!


1.  The Pomodoro Technique works. It really does. I use it every week to write my Sunday Life column. Sprint, pause, sprint, pause.

Developed in the 90s by an Italian efficiency enthusiast, it’s recently experienced a surge of popularity. It’s stupidly simple. You pick a task and take one of those kitschly 90s red tomato kitchen timers and set it to 25 minutes. Next, churn through your task, ignoring distractions, not stopping to make tea or stare at the ceiling. Rest for 5 minutes and repeat the cycle three more times, after which you rest for a good half hour and grab lunch or read emails. The aim is to work to these 30-minute cycles daily, building up the self-discipline muscle. Read more here.

* I love instapaper. I can’t imagine life before it. I divide all my reading into different folders. There’s also an iphone app, too!

It works like this. You’re wasting time online and stumble upon an interesting blog post or New York Times article. You can’t read it now; you’re meant to be finalising a spreadsheet or something….What to do? Glad you asked. Once you’ve installed Instapaper (three easy online steps, or thereabouts), you simply click a “Read Later” button on your Bookmarks menu and your article is filed in a special folder in cyberspace. For perusal at a more languid juncture. Get more here.

* Only answering emails twice a day. I’m not so good at this one. But I HIGHLY recommend trying this etox technique, even just for a week. It reshapes your thinking.

So, step one, on Monday I set up a perky auto-reply that essentially tells email to rack off, while putting the kybosh on my own addictive patterns. If you were to email me today you’d be greeted with this: Hello! Email is wasting my time and creative energy. For the sake of efficiency and wellbeing I now check me emails twice daily only, at 10am and 4pm. It’s urgent? Call me on… For more…here!

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