Productivity Flowchart

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Feeling stuck or unproductive? This interactive flowchart will help you get back in the flow.

Does this describe you:

I have too many things to do!

πŸ—‘οΈ

First, divide the things to do into the "must‑haves" and the "nice‑to‑haves".

😎

Now, ignore all the "nice‑to‑haves"!

That's a bit better already.

Does this describe you?

I have too many "must-have" things to do!

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You no longer have too many things to do (because you're ignoring the "nice-to-haves")

Now your productivity should soar.

Too Many "Must-Haves"

There's two strategies you can use:

Low-hanging fruit and maximum impact

Pick either one. You can change your mind later!

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The Low-Hanging Fruit Strategy

The low-hanging fruit strategy is simple.

You've already narrowed your tasks down so that only the must-haves remain.

In this strategy all you need to do is pick the simplest, easiest item on the list.

Don't worry about the hardest, scariest item on the list. Once you have momentum with other items the hardest item will be easier to deal with.

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The Maximum Impact Strategy

Given all the items in the must-have list, focus only on the item which will have maximum impact.

Ignore everything else. Find the smallest step you can make to move toward completing that task.

Does this describe you?

I don't have enough things to do...

I have run out of meaningful work.

You don't have anything simple and actionable in front of you right now.

Does this describe you:

I have goals and dreams!

You have goals! You have dreams! There are things, big big things that you wish to achieve.

But it's all too much. You need a strategy to move ahead.

Let's use the mile-stone-inch-pebble strategy. Ready?

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The Mile-stone-Inch-Pebble Strategy, Part 1

Write down the dream you think is most achievable. And below that write down the major milestones that would need to be achieved, in order to realize that dream.

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The Mile-stone-Inch-Pebble Strategy, Part 2

Pick one milestone, and write down the 3 or 4 smaller steps to achieving that mile stone.

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The Mile-stone-Inch-Pebble Strategy, Part 3

Keep breaking a given step down until you have at least 1 clear, actionable, task.

You do not need to break every milestone down into tiny inch-pebbles. You only need to find a single task to do.

If you don't know enough about any milestone to write down the tasks, then your task is this: perform more research!

Do that task.

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Right now, you feel as if you have no goals and no dreams.

It's not a very enjoyable place to be. You have my sympathy.

Trust in this: you do have goals, and you do have dreams.

During the blinding light of day we cannot see the stars. But the stars are still there.

During the most turbulent storm, it seems like the blue sky will never return. But eventually: there it is.

Slow down. Listen to your mind. Be patient with the here and the now.

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Does this describe you?

All forward progress is completely blocked!

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Is the task you are blocked on a 'nice-to-have' or a 'must-have'?

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You are completely blocked, on a must-have task. Poor you!

Does this describe you?

I am working on a hard task from my must-have list. But there are easier must-have tasks.

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Stop attempting that difficult must-have task.

Switch to doing the easiest must-have task instead!

It's good to get a little distance from that nasty task. And it's good to feel a little momentum in the mean-time.

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You are completely blocked, on a must-have task. And there are no easier tasks you can switch to.

Congratulations:

You are in The Hard Place! πŸ’Ž

Don't worry. We'll get you out of here in no time. Ready?

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The Hard Place, Part 1

Does this describe you?

I am attempting to do the impossible.

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YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO DO THE IMPOSSIBLE.

Stop. Right. Now.

No one can do the impossible.

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The Hard Place, Part 2

Does this describe you?

Although the task I am attempting is possible, it is impossible for ME to do it.

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The Hard Place, Part 3

Is this statement true?

Although the task I am attempting is impossible for me, there is someone else I could get to do it.

😎

You need to get that other person to do this task (or at least help you out).

It's a must-have task, forward progress is blocked, you can't do it yourself and someone else has the skills. Get them involved, pronto!

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The Hard Place, Part 4

The task you're attempting is possible, but it is impossible for you to do... and yet there is no-one else who can do it. Very tricky indeed!

Is this statement true:

I can improve my skills, and thus begin to make progress.

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Maybe it *is* impossible

The task you're attempting is possible, but it is impossible for you to do, there is no-one else who can do it and you can't improve your skills to do it yourself. This task is impossible!

You need to either:

  • search for a mentor to help with the problem, or
  • find something better to work on
...because given the information we have currently, it looks impossible.

πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ“

No one can help you but you. It's time to level-up your skills.

Research the topic. Get a grasp on the fundamentals, and build up your skills until you can solve the problem yourself. Be patient. Accept that learning is hard. It will be worth it.

πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ“

Is this problem even solvable?

Right now, you're not certain if the problem you're facing is even able to be solved.

Your current task: research the hell out of this problem.

Keep doing that until you determine it to be either impossible or trivial. You may need to increase your skills on the fundamentals of the problem, or call in external help. Either way: you are not stuck, you have a task to do.

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The Hard Place, Part 3

The task you are attempting is possible. And it is even possible for you to do it. Yet you feel blocked!

Is this statement true:

I am not really blocked, I am just finding that progress is too slow.

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Adjust your approach

You believe it can be solved, and you believe you can solve it. But right now, you're not making any progress.

It's time to step away from the problem for a while.

Get some sleep. Go for a walk. Take a shower. Eat a good meal. Go for a run or a swim. Work on something else for a while.

When you're ready to approach the problem again: approach it from a different angle. Reframe the problem. Talk it over with a friend. Try explaining the problem in the simplest possible terms, so simple a six year-old would understand.

The task you are blocked on is not a must-have. It is only a nice-to-have.

Stop working on it, and pick a new thing to do.

Does this describe you?

I am not making progress FAST ENOUGH.

At this rate I will never be done!

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Apparently you feel that progress is too slow.

Does this describe you:

I am not very skilled at doing this kind of task.

πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ“

You need to increase your basic skills in this field.

If there a local expert who can help? Or perhaps an online course?

Improve your skills, and your productivity will improve.

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You need to lower your expectations.

Good work takes time. Stay on task, keep going. Don't worry about speed.

You don't have too many items. You don't have too few items. You're not blocked. Progress is not too slow.

You are ready to become a happy and productive member of society.

Here is your personal productivity plan:

Go for it!