There are times when you just simply don’t have the energy to carry out tasks, but you know you should really get some stuff done today. I have a really simple technique that I use when I pull tasks into ‘my world’ using GTD. By identifying tasks that I can do on auto-pilot, I can ‘smooth out the gaps’ when I don’t have the energy and enthusiasm throughout an entire week.
The smart part of your brain knows about the dumb part of your brain
Nothing encapsulates what I mean than the following Imgur post – in this, Conor knew that he would be needing pizza in his hungover state, so planned ahead before he got too drunk to do so. I think Conor may be a man after my own heart.
A more socially responsible example is in Getting Things Done itself, when David Allen makes the point on how we do things like leave important papers by the door the night before, so that we don’t forget them the next day. Why? Because the smart part of us knows that in the rush in morning we are likely to get flustered and forget them, so we use a ‘low maintenance cue’ to stop this happening.
You can do the same with productivity hacks
In the same fashion as Conor, when I process tasks, if I think something is ‘low hanging fruit’ then I assign a ‘context’ to it marking it as ‘Low Energy’.
Using this view, it’s a simple case of cherry picking something I think I can cope with when I’m tired from one easy list. I don’t have to ‘think twice’, since I’ve already it’s something I could do at some point in the past. I don’t have to feel guilty that I should be doing ‘something’ when I’m mentally drained.
Why do this?
I took this approach because whilst I recognise that your day should prioritise high importance/high impact activities, life sometimes comes at you a bit faster than you can handle. If you try and do high impact activities ‘all the time’ then you are going to disappoint yourself. You could potentially even view this as a form of procrastination (“I’ll just do these easy things first”).
I think of it slightly differently however, I take it as a pragmatic recognition that sometimes you just need to ‘smooth out’ the gaps in the week and do something on auto-pilot. Indeed there are studies (which I’ll cover in another post) which demonstrate that you have intuitive (autopilot) and focused (deep work) cycles.
Why not leverage these ‘energy modes’ to get the most out of your day?