Four Things

One of the toughest things to accomplish as a largely one-man-show is to get things done on time. There are too many distractions, way too many things to chase after and a majority of the times things just don't go according to plan. Couple all that with a month-long vacation which shreds apart any bit of work discipline you've had before, the result is a list of things-to-do that pile up and task bankruptcy looms large on the horizon.

Previously, I have resorted to quite complicated task mapping and GTD strategies to get through things. Ever since I got back from the vacation, each of those strategies seemed to stop working, especially since my already despicable ability to multitask has undergone another round of depletion. Thus was born the Four Things strategy to getting things done.

Four Things is very simple. It is easy to understand and implement. It is rather self explanatory: you pick four things every day that you want to accomplish and the time you want to allocate for them. Of the four, three are largely static. You can't avoid cooking or exercising on most days. The same goes for work. So all those get slotted into the three things. The remaining slot goes for activities that don't get repeated on a daily basis. This could include going sport climbing, catching a movie, going out drinking etc.

The larger idea is to get comfortable doing these simple plans on a daily basis and finishing them as a rule every day. The simplicity of the method ensures that the overhead of measuring/mapping is significantly lower in this. As you get into the habit of doing the Four Things subconsciously, you can increase it to five, six or any number that you are comfortable with. Focus more on execution than planning and maintenance. Let us see how it works for me in the long run.