How to Get Things Done

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Scenario: "Dude! To work faster, we must work on 10 things at once. Then we'll finish work 10x faster. In the meantime, we'll watch some freakin' TV! And bake some cookies! Yay!" It's something oh-so-common among the entrepreneurial freaks: Multitasking! It seems great on the surface: "The more things you do simultaneously, the quicker you'll finish things." Right? Not quite. Here's why:

Why Multitasking Sucks

The Fab-3 reasons why you shouldn't multitask:
  • You drain productivity.

    You think you're a super badass:
    1. You're doing ten things at once.
    2. You think you'll finish all ten items much quicker than if you were to do each one-by-one.
    3. You end up quarter-assing all ten.
    4. Nothing gets done.
    5. Your clients get mad.

    Boo. We're definitely guilty of it. We're sure you've done it from time-to-time too. Instead of getting something done, you're getting nothing done. Your productivity starts draining like Clay Aiken's popularity.
  • You become dumber.

    "Wait. I become dumb? Meeh?" Oh yes, your badass heard that right. If you're doing two things at the same time, you're not just splitting your brain's capacity to kick-ass. You're dramatically dumbing down your brain. Think Paris Hilton. (Zing!) UCLA Psychologist Russell Poldrack studied the adverse effects on the brain when you multitask:

    What

    Poldrack and his research team recruited a group of volunteers, all in their 20s, and set them to work on a simple categorization task, asking them to sort a stack of cards into different piles depending on the shapes printed on them.

    Results

    When the subjects sorted cards without distractions, the brain's hippocampus -- a seahorse-shaped structure used in storing and recalling information -- was actively engaged. When the beeps were sounding, the hippocampus was quiet and the less-sophisticated striatum -- the part of the brain used to master unthinking, repetitive skills like riding a bicycle -- took over.
  • You miss deadlines.

    Productivity drainage + Dumber brain = Missed deadlines. Try this two-day experiment:
    • Today: Try finishing ten lengthy to-do items, simultaneously.
    • Tomorrow: Try finishing one lengthy item one-at-a-time (ten in all), fully focused on each.

    Notice the number of missed deadlines on the first day. Pretty crazy, eh?

How to Really Get Things Done

Use the oh-so-not-yet-famous Trizoko 3 step process:
  1. Focus on one destination point.

    You don't go into the grocery store without getting a certain item. Likewise, you shouldn't work on anything without one clear destination point. "But I have ten to-do items on today!" By fully focusing on one thing at a time, you'll optimize your brainpower -- exponentially improving productivity. That means, you'll complete the ten items faster by taking an item-by-item approach. Peep this model: The total time it takes you to complete Task A by,
    • Multitasking: 41351807498214 hours.
    • Doing one-thing-at-a-time: 0.01 seconds.

    (Okay, we're embellishing it a bit, but you get the point.)
  2. Block out everything else -- like you're an intensely insane, focused badass.

    That is, remove all distractions that keep you from your destination point.
    • No AIMs, MSN, MySpace, or whatever over-hyped product you friendly folks are using these days.
    • No email-checking.
    • No TVs.
    • Nada.

    We'll now act all-mama on yo behind: Clean your desk! A loose paper will ruin your intensely insane focus. A misplaced item will do the same.

    You need the focus of a badass.

    Before a sprint, a 100-meter champion doesn't:
    • check his email
    • chat about what Vanessa wore yesterday
    • give interviews
    • talk to friends or family
    • smoke the peace pipe

    Oh no: he stays absolutely focused with what he's about to do. You need that freakishly focused mentality. Removing distractions helps you get that mindset.
  3. When you're finished, have a new destination point.

    Repeat the steps as needed:
    • Destination A, fully focused
    • Destination B, fully focused
    • Destination C, fully focused
    • etc., etc., etc.

    The secret to all of this, of course: Have as many destination points as possible in a day. Your productivity will soar higher than a mutha luckin eagle.
Say it with us now:

"I am an intensely insane, focused mutha flucka. I do one thing at a time."


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Posted on October 05

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