Writer Peter Bregman details a simple system that allows you to focus on what is important in your task list during the day. It’s a short article but a great one. It breaks down the process of planning your tasks and managing your day into three simple steps. The second step is about taking a quick break every hour to to evaluate what you have done and refocus on what task to do next. This allows you to single task and stay focused on what you are doing.
STEP 1 (5 Minutes) Set Plan for Day. Before turning on your computer, sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful. What can you realistically accomplish that will further your goals and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling like you’ve been productive and successful? Write those things down.
STEP 2 (1 minute every hour) Refocus. Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour. When it rings, take a deep breath, look at your list and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour. Don’t let the hours manage you.
STEP 3 (5 minutes) Review. Shut off your computer and review your day. What worked? Where did you focus? Where did you get distracted? What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?
An 18-Minute Plan for Managing Your Day (Harvard Business Review)