The most important productivity tip

Photo courtesy of RLHyde

Here is an article written by Dave Logan for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.

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(MoneyWatch) I’m a time management nut, and so I am surprised that the most important aspect of personal productivity is rarely discussed. It is to do creative work when you’re naturally creative, and do productive tasks when you’re naturally in “get it done” mode.

Every person I’ve ever met, taught, or learned from, is more creative at some point in the day than others, so much so that they are a creative genius at some times. The same person is a productivity machine at other times in the day (or, a “productivity genius”). The key is to know what your natural daily rhythm is.

First, some definitions. Creative tasks are those that require “invention” — which the Greeks understood as a combination of originality and discovering what’s going on. Writing poetry is creative. So is writing a proposal. And getting ready for a meeting, when you’re getting your facts in order and thinking about how to present them and respond to questions. Answering a tough email is creative, as is offering critiques on a marketing strategy, or preparing a bid.

A productive task is something you try to dispense quickly, where the key is efficiency. Answering routine emails, returning calls, getting through the stuff on your desk are productivity tasks.

So, how do you sync up when you do each? Here’s how:

[Note: Here is the first of three suggestions.]

1. Keep a “genius log” for three days to map your daily cycle. During the 72 hours, when you’re at work, set an alarm every 1-2 hours. When it goes off, record these quick data points:

•  The exact time of day.
•  The task you’re working on.
•  Where it is on the creativity-productive continuum, with “100% C” meaning total creativity, “100% P” meaning that you’re doing your best to be a productivity machine.
•  How effortless it is, on a one to 10 scale, with 10 being “completely effortless” and one being “personal hell.”

After making these notations, reset the alarm for a time between 60 and 120 minutes. Repeat until the end of the workday, and for the next two days.

To learn more on how to do the genius log, get some tips to not hang yourself up, and see a sample of my own log, go to my personal blog.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Dave Logan is a USC faculty member, management consultant, and the best-selling author of four books including Tribal Leadership and The Three Laws of Performance. He is also Senior Partner of CultureSync, a management consulting firm, which he co-founded in 1997.

To read his other articles, please click here.

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