Improving your brain boot time
The end of your day
(It seems strange starting a post at the end, but I had a chicken and the egg problem with this one!)
Take the last 5-10 minutes of your day to stop working. Use your notebook and write down everything that you didn’t get done today that you needed to get done. Also, include the things that you need to do tomorrow.
For each item in the list, add a second bullet point which is the first step you need to do to start the task. For example, send Charlie an email asking for clarification.
This is your “shutdown sequence” that becomes your “boot up” script.
About a year ago I read about this in Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work”. He claims to say out loud, “Shutdown Complete” when he finishes his day. I have not adopted this practice…
Then the tricky part for most people: leave work on time.
The start of your day
If you’re a tea or coffee person, make your drink or fill your water before you sit down.
Check if you have any messages sent directly to you and answer these. Check for and address any emails addressed to you.
Now run your “boot up script”. Read through the list of things you need to do and start doing the first one. After reading, start your first pomodoro timer.
In your pomodoro breaks you can read the rest of the messages and emails.
Each time you start thinking about another thing you need to do, put it onto your list so you can get it out of your head and stay focused on the task at hand.
You’ll find that you get more done in the morning. In my experience, most people don’t interrupt you in the morning as they’re still “booting up”. In the afternoon when everyone’s a bit more switched on, you won’t get as much done.
You’ll start to realise that most messages don’t matter. It’s mostly noise that you have to get through. I find emails and slack are particularly noisy. At present, I haven’t found a way to filter out @here and @all notifications. Direct messages are important but can often wait a few minutes, depending on who sent it.
This technique works notably well on a Monday. Your brain gets back the context back from Friday. Before I adopted this practice, every Monday I’d come in and ask myself, “What was I doing on Friday?” Not any more!
Did you try this? Did it help? Any suggestions?
Leave a comment below!