Nothing can dampen a cheery morning like cracking open your laptop to find a myriad of notifications alerting you about your 4 p.m. dentist appointment, a rescheduled meeting, and the dry-cleaning you had to pick up, like, a week ago. That, combined with the sticky note reminders littering your desk, is enough to spike your heart rate faster than a spin class. How can one possibly be productive when faced with so many obligations?
Enter: The Triangle of Productivity. The concept was created by Fay Wolf, professional organizer and author of New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (And Everyone Else) ($15; amazon.com), and states that “everything that requires your attention should find its way into one of three holy places—your email inbox, your calendar, or your to-do list.” In her book, Wolf writes, “The endgame is not just the cleared space and slimmed-down inbox. The endgame is how this new way of living makes you feel, how it allows you to operate, and what it inspires you to do next.”
Until you fully digest Wolf’s full manifesto, these crucial tips will serve as some much needed inspiration in the meantime:
1. Don't use email as a reminder. “If you’re keeping an email active in your inbox to remind you of something, and it doesn’t need a reply, add that task to your to-do list and archive the email… if you’re keeping an email active to remind you of a specific event, add the event to your calendar immediately," writes Wolf.
2. Use your calendar wisely. “Your calendar is for scheduled events only, not to record the things you might do that day," Wolf explains. "However, feel free to schedule specific errands from your to-do list…Putting specifically timed tasks on your calendar will help you actually do them.”
3. Make big tasks first on your to-do list, not last. “Scheduling creative tasks for specific times of day, and then treating them like real nonnegotiable appointments, is imperative for productivity," Wolf advises. "And for many people, mornings are best to work on anything you are likely to procrastinate on. Knock it out first thing, and that sense of accomplishment and joy will follow you throughout the day.”