What Cooking Rice Taught Me About Productivity
A simple idea on an ordinary day transformed the way I work.
It was an average Wednesday. The day was winding down. Quinton and the boys would soon be home from work and school. I was thinking about what to make for dinner and still had a bit more work to get done. I put some rice on the stove and set the timer for 18 minutes. I walked away and thought “I wonder what I could get done in the time it took the rice to cook.” I’d been putting off something on my to-do list for weeks thinking I needed a solid 2 or 3 hours to complete. What would happen if I took the next 18 minutes to get started?
I grabbed my things and poured myself into the work. The buzzer rang and I was astounded by what had happened. Not only was dinner closer to being ready – I had completed, yes COMPLETED a project that in my mind needed hours to complete. And, not only did I do it in far less time, the output was far more focused and thoughtful. I knew I was onto something.
I’ve since brought this timer concept into my everyday work. I use it to complete items on my to-do list and to break down daunting tasks. I’m moving through things faster, the quality of the output has gone up, and I feel better doing it.
Try it out and see what happens! Here are steps and reminders to get you started…
- Allocate your time: List your top 5 priorities. Take the amount of time you have and write the number of minutes you will allocate next to each item on your list. Some tasks might need 10 minutes while others might call for 30 or 40 minutes. Set the timer and go.
- Follow your energy: Try starting with the item on your list where you feel the most energy and build momentum to get the less exciting things done too.
- Increase your focus: The timer creates a manageable container for making progress and sets you up to bring all your focus to one task for a shorter period of time. The structure liberates your creativity and ability to focus.
- Bust through overthinking: Say goodbye to delays in your work that are due to obsessive thinking about lack of time, dread and overwhelm. Say hello to serious traction on things that just might make your life a little or a lot better.
- Feel better: Your increased focus and progress will create good feelings. Let the good feelings spill into other areas of your life.
- Try it out. Plan rice for dinner this week or just set a timer and knock off part or all a project.
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