Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Quintus Method for Ultimate Productivity

I come to you today with a very useful tool, which I call the Quintus Method.

The Quintus Method: Audit your day. Eliminate time-wasting activities. Then, organize your valuable activities into 15-minute time blocks.

You may not have heard of Quintus Horatius Flaccus, but you’ve probably heard of the time-tested aphorism ‘carpe diem’. ‘Carpe diem’, which translates to ‘seize the day’, was coined by Quintus a long time ago, but it still has relevance today. Thanks, Quintus.

While many of us believe that we are “seizing the day” on a regular basis, we are usually throwing much of our time away. Fortunately, the Quintus Method has been developed to allow us to suck every last drop of time from the day and use it to our advantage.

Carpe diem engraving
A very inspirational engraving.

When most of us wake up each morning, we have a vague idea of what we want to do during the day. Maybe we roll out of bed after hitting the snooze button a few times, make ourselves breakfast while reading the paper, go to work/school, come home and finish the night by watching television.

This is the worst thing that we can do.

As anybody well-versed in the Quintus Method will tell you, a schedule like that is incredibly unproductive and inefficient. But, by applying the Quintus Method, we can revolutionize the day.

The steps to applying the Quintus Method are:

  1. Perform an audit of the day.
Look at your daily activities and assign a value for each activity. Use a 0 to 5 scale, with 5 being an extremely valuable activity and 0 being an activity of no value. We can determine the value by looking at the output (what we get from the activity) versus the time it takes to complete the activity.

For example, hitting the snooze button has very little positive output for the time that we put in. While you may “snooze” for 15 minutes, you don't gain anything because it isn't the same as real sleep.  

Some activities, like reading the paper, will need a deeper evaluation. Obviously, reading about celebrity gossip in the entertainment section will be of less value than reading about international affairs.

Now, according to the values that you've assigned, you decide which activities you would like to keep in your day and which you would like to remove. As a general rule, activities under 3 should be removed, and activities over 3 should be kept. Values at 3 can either be removed or kept (use your discretion).

  1. Enforce a daily schedule.
With your newly-audited day, you can now afford to divide your day into 15-minute chunks. For this, you can either use Google Calendar, a pencil and paper, or some other schedule-making software.

Next, decide how much time you are going to allot to each activity. Obviously, the more valuable the activity is, the more time it deserves. Here’s an example of mine (click to enlarge):

As you can see, I have no activities in my schedule that I value less than a 3. 

Obviously, some activities are unavoidable, like commuting or eating. However, we can still make these time slots productive. Segue!

  1. Maximize your productivity in those time slots.
The final step of the Quintus Method is to maximize your productivity in these time slots.

One way to do this is to work with hard focus. Hard focus is all about completely devoting 100% of your concentration and mental capacity to the task at hand. Obviously, this is easier said than done. There will be a future blog post outlining the details of hard focus.

Another way to maximize productivity is to combine two low-intensity (but high-value) activities into one. For example, if you have scheduled reading time and time to make lunch, you can combine the two by listening to an audiobook while cooking. Another example would be reading while taking the bus.

Regardless of which activities you value, the ultimate result will be the same: you’ll maximize your time doing valuable activities and eliminate the time-wasting activities.

Feel free to play with it and make it your own. It’s worked wonders for me, and I’m excited to pass it on to you.

Keep your stick on the ice,

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