At the start of this week, I found myself feeling a little overwhelmed. I’d been on holiday over the Christmas period, and on returning to the UK I had two back-to-back weeks of 13-hour shifts at the hospital. In that time, various things had piled up in my email inbox and my to-do list. To sort through this mess, I used a productivity trick that sounds simple but is incredibly effective - I asked myself the following question:
What’s the one thing I can do today that’ll take the largest load off my shoulders?
I triaged my to-do list based on this one-thing-per-day principle. And each day for the last week, I did just that - one thing. Now it’s the end of the week, and my mind genuinely feels lighter than it has in ages because I’ve bashed through the tasks that were weighing me down.
So that’s the message of today’s email - if you’re struggling with a long list of tasks, don’t try to be a multitasking productivity master. Just do one thing per day, starting with the one that’s causing the most angst, and your spirit will be free.
Have a great week!
PS: If you care what my to-do list looked like this week, I talk about it right at the bottom of this email. If not, then by all means hit Archive or Delete and enjoy the rest of your day :)
Stuff I’ve enjoyed this week
(1) Non-fiction - The 4-Hour Work Week (Tim Ferriss) - This is the single book that most changed my life when I read it 7+ years ago. I’m rereading it for the first time and discovering so much stuff that I didn’t appreciate before. If you have even a passing interest in entrepreneurship, or if the idea of making systems that generate ‘passive income’ while you do other stuff seems remotely intriguing, this is a must-read.
(2) Kitchen appliance - I bought this Egg Poacher after a friend recommended it, and it’s made the process of poaching eggs a lot easier. I no longer have to worry about cleaning up a saucepan filled with random white bits, or scalding my hands when breaking eggs into a pan of boiling water.
(3) Meditation App - Meditation is one of those things that almost every famously successful person swears by, and after hearing rave reviews of Sam Harris’ Waking Up app, I decided to give it a shot. So far I’m on day 3 of the meditation thing and I've committed to trying it out for at least a month to see what the fuss is about. I’ll report back when I’ve got more to share.
My to-do list
Overall, I didn’t get as much done on Wednesday to Friday as I would’ve liked, but I accomplished my one thing per day most days so that’s a win.
Monday - Updated the 6med website with our BMAT and UCAT course dates for the year. This just takes a few hours of work each year, but because it’s quite boring, I always put it off until we start getting frantic emails and phone calls from parents desperate to book their kids onto one of our (amazing) courses.
Tuesday - Wrote up the plan for a Quality Improvement Project aimed at improving the way FY1s (ie: the most junior doctors like me) are trained to respond to cardiac arrest calls. Sent this to two colleagues and the consultant supervising us.
Wednesday - Filmed and edited 2 videos, and replied to all my outstanding emails to schedule sponsored videos for the next 1-2 months. I had the day off (because I’m working on the weekend) so I probably could’ve done more, but oh well.
Thursday - Intended to film another video, ended up being a wasteman and just playing some piano and guitar in the evening after work.
Friday - Filmed a video, edited another one. Probably could’ve done a lot more if I’d been more efficient, but enjoyment is just as important as efficiency in my book.
Saturday - 8:30am-9:00pm shift at work. By about 7pm there was nothing left to do on the ward, so I bashed through a tonne of patient data for an audit about the management of high-grade Ovarian Cancer. Sent it off to the supervisor with a feeling of relief as this had been looming over me for 2 weeks.
Sunday - 8:30am-9pm shift at work. It’s currently 3pm and I’m writing this email in my lunch break. That’s the one task for today 😜
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