As I mentioned earlier this week, the best way to be productive is to work hard and commit to less. However, it raises an important point, what if the few commitments you do keep simply have too much work? How do you handle it?
I recently had a conversation with Stefan Knapen, a medical student and writer for StudySuccessful.com. He claimed the biggest challenge of medical school was that there was so much of it. Thousands of pages of reading and hundreds of hours of lectures, all needing to be learned.
This situation probably sounds familiar to many students or workers: the problem isn’t any specific task, the volume of work is simply too high.
Omit, Organize, Optimize
In my mind, there are really only three ways you can be more productive when you have a set workload:
- You can omit work by removing commitments. Some commitments aren’t strictly necessary, so if you can get out of them at the nearest juncture, you will save your sanity.
- You can organize yourself and plan carefully to manage the volume. Know what needs to be done, how much and how you will split it into daily increments.
- You can optimize the way you do the tasks themselves so they take less time or energy.
The best places to start are the most obvious. They are usually the biggest wins for the least effort.
Omissions should come first. Eliminating one commitment can be worth the carefully organization or optimization of three.
Organizing should come second. Organizing your entire workload for a year may only take a weekend, to design and 2-3 months to put into practice, but after that you’re set.
Optimizing should come last. Once you’re left with just the essential commitments and you have a plan, then optimizing can help. For students, this might mean learning to take better notes or read faster.
One quick last note for Learning on Steroids, my program designed to implement rapid learning tactics in your life. The email list has already been getting updates about the program and it will go live on Saturday (but only if you’re on the list).