We all know a long to-do list can become overwhelming and leave you feeling like your tasks are never-ending. Ever felt demotivated before your day has even started? Or felt immense pressure while wondering where to even begin?
You are not the only one!
We all have those days where tasks pile up and seem almost unachievable, but find comfort in the fact that you have a limited amount of time each day and sometimes it is simply not possible to complete all your tasks. The main thing is getting started to ensure you have made progress towards your tasks by the end of the day.
So, where should you start? This is where the 1-3-5 rule comes in.
The 1-3-5 rule is a productivity technique that involves breaking down your to-do list into three categories: 1 big task, 3 medium tasks, and 5 small tasks. Here's how it works:
- Start by identifying the one big task that you want to focus on first. This could be a task that is particularly important or that requires a lot of time and effort - this is your "frog". For example, creating and publishing the agenda for the next council meeting.
- Next, identify three medium tasks that are also important, but that may be slightly less time-consuming than the big task. For example, obtaining insurance quotes, entering your December transactions and reconciling, attending the "Clerk Smarter, Not Harder" training session.
- Finally, identify five small tasks that you can complete in a relatively short amount of time. For example, calling Cllr Andrews about a vandalism incident, responding to an email enquiry, filing documents, reviewing low priority tasks and preparing for tomorrow.
Top tip: If you often have unplanned tasks thrown at you, it may be worth leaving some blank slots so you can schedule in these tasks.
By working through your to do list in this way, you can help to ensure that you are making progress on your most important tasks while also crossing off smaller tasks throughout your day. This can help you to stay organised, productive and motivated.
Combine the 1-3-5 Rule with the Pomorodo Technique
While it can feel great when you're well underway with your tasks and on a roll, it's important to remember to take regular breaks.
When we work for long periods of time without taking breaks, we can become less productive and less efficient. Taking a break allows us to step back, refresh our minds, and come back to the task at hand with a clearer focus. It can also prevent burnout and that exhausted feeling towards the end of the day that even a coffee will struggle to aid!
Some people may prefer to take shorter breaks more frequently, while others may prefer longer breaks less frequently. You should experiment with different approaches to find what works best for you - a well known approach you can try is the Pomorodo Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that involves using a timer to break down work into 25 minute intervals, separated by short breaks. These intervals are known as "Pomodoros."
The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility, and here's how it works:
- Choose a task you want to work on, if it's the beginning of your day try and go for the "frog".
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on the task until the timer goes off.
- Take a short break of 5 minutes - you could try getting some fresh air, doing some stretches or making a cuppa or coffee.
- After four pomodoros (2 hours), take a longer break of 15-30 minutes - try going for walk, calling a family member or friend or grabbing a healthy snack and listening to a podcast.
You can adjust the length of the pomodoros and breaks to suit your needs.
Top tip: Some people find it helpful to use a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (pomodoro is Italian for "tomato") as a physical reminder of the technique.
The Pomodoro Technique can be a useful tool for managing your time and increasing your productivity. It can help you stay focused on a task and prevent burnout by taking regular breaks. Try it out and see if it works for you!