Check list

I was a bit surprised to see I wasn't the only one who breaks up his work day with a bit of exercise, but it's nice to think that others get the same value from it as me.

The other hack I’ve taken to using the last couple of weeks is akin to a pre-Flight checklist. I realised a while ago that focus wasn't my problem. Starting was. Once I actually got to writing I was usually pretty good about sticking to it, probably because of all of the scaffolding I've built around my workflow to protect me from distraction and disruption over the last couple of decades.

But I was also very good at distracting and disrupting myself before I ever got there. If I could bring myself to use the tools I’d developed, or picked up along the way, like the Pomodoro Method and a variation on bullet point journaling for time tracking, I was usually okay. But I would often find myself looking up at the clock with horror, two or three hours after sitting down at my keyboard, to realise that I’d never got around to making a start. The solution, if I decided, was to use a pre-flight checklist.

So now every day before I write the first word, I have this rigid process to go through, in which I have to tick off all of my boxes. I clear all the rubbish away from my desk. I close any social media platforms that are open on my computer. I list the tasks for the day in my desk diary. I turn on the ‘Forest’ time tracking app on my phone, and I crank up the nifty little timer I bought for my desk. (I previously used the timer on my AppleWatch, but I like having the big physical artefact sitting there to remind me what’s supposed to be happening).

Once I work down this list, taking them off as I perform the tasks, I start my first Pomodoro session. I've been doing this for a couple of weeks now, and it seems to be holding up as a productivity hack. Again, this might be simply because getting started was more of a problem for me than staying focused. So your milage may vary. But feel free to steal my idea.