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For example, an e-mail comes in and you have that biological urge to respond immediately or work on the problem immediately.

In addition, we don't want to come off talking our sweet time, so we reinforce that urge.

However, this may actually not be the most productive in the long run - as deceptive as it may appear on the surface.

I notice that forcing myself to slow down makes me more productive at the end of the week.

How does one create a good balance in pace?

What are some specific strategies for pacing work and responding to work queries during the day?

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migrated from Nov 28 '12 at 21:07

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

If you're looking to set your own priorities, or want to look into possible methods that can work across teams, four quadrants is a good method.

The way I interpret the priorities is

  • I. Put out fires that you absolutely can't ignore
  • II. Work on important projects and proactive items, and other things that will help you run more smoothly in the long run (either by making you money by completing them, or by enhancing your current process so it's more efficient in the future)
  • III. Work on things like the distractions that are urgent (time-sensitive), but if they don't get done won't really make a huge difference in the long run
  • IV. Everything else - catching up on your reading, browsing the web, non-essential research, etc.

Every task, distraction, To-do item and other thing that comes up in the day fits into one of those four categories. Do the things in order of their priority, doing higher priority items "now" even if they interrupt other things - that's the definition of priority after all.

From there it's just a matter of having the discipline to actually adopt, stick to, and spread this to your coworkers. Makes for less stressful work life, in my experience.

I also wrote a blog post about things in Quadrants II & III last year - a practice I call "Sharpening." The idea is that you need to spend some of your time doing the little things that will make you just a little better, more knowledgable, and more effective each day. Over time these little things add up and wind up making the difference between you and other people in terms of what you're able to accomplish in a day's work and how "expert" you appear to be at your job.

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very cool thank you. – Greg McNulty Nov 29 '12 at 1:01

One of the method could be pomodoro technique. You make a plan in the morning and list the task for a day in importance order. You get slots, could be 25 minutes work and 5 minutes break with a timer. When you have a work time you hocus ONLY on the task. If something is coming make a note that it is there but don't change your task. On your break make some easy task, check emails, quick chat. For a task get 4 times by 25 minutes, after get a longer break.

The idea is not about making time slots but about focusing on important task at the moment and only on this task. If someone approach you tell him you call back in whatever left ~18 minutes. The slot is short enough (25 minutes) that if you will not check your email, the world will not fall apart.

In addition to it when you open your browser do not open on twiter, facebook etc bookmarks. Switch of your messenger instant ring, at the most you will delay checking your emails by 25 minutes only.

During the day as you write down important, unplanned task you modify your list, but when you get to the end of your 25 pomodoro slot it can turn up that instant response is not so important any more.

The technique is not only about managing your time but at most about learning how to react to disturbances.

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very interesting never heard of it before, thank you will look into it more. – Greg McNulty Nov 29 '12 at 0:59

How does one create a good balance in pace?

Have you tried GTD approach? Here is a quote about “mind like water” concept:

Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is, totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input; then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact…

high levels of training in the martial arts teach and demand balance and relaxation as much as anything else. Clearing the mind and being flexible is key.

Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does. Responding inappropriately to your e-mail, your staff, your projects, your unread magazines… will lead to less effective results than you’d like.


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good points, thank you. – Greg McNulty May 28 '13 at 21:12

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