Here’s a question:
Do you hate cliffhangers…or love them?
I hate them.
It’s like that moment when you were little and someone (your mom, teacher, whoever) was reading you a story and just when it got to the good part, they slammed shut the book and said, “You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear the rest of the story.”
Ugh. Or you watch a TV episode, and just as the show comes to an end, a new plot development arises. Thanks a lot, screenwriters.
Well today, we’re going to use cliffhangers to our advantage when it comes to getting work done. I’m going to share a technique for getting yourself productive at the beginning of a day.
And you’re going to love it.
How The “Page-Turner” Technique Works
If you’re like me, you probably find it easy to keep working once you’ve gotten into the groove of things.
But when it’s early in the morning and you haven’t touched your work in awhile, you probably don’t feel like working.
In fact, there are three things that are more tempting to you than putting your head down and working:
- Checking your email – that’s quasi-work, so it counts right?
- Watching a viral video – something to keep you entertained until you really feel like working
- Chatting with your neighbor – whether it really is your neighbor or your co-worker, what better way to start the day than to socialize?
(If so, you should probably check out my guide on the “If Not This, Then That” strategy here.)
This is where my “page-turner” technique to productivity comes in.
So imagine hearing part of a story and having to wait until you can hear the rest of the story. You just can’t wait and wonder what will happen on the next page.
You can use the “page-turner” technique to productivity when you’re doing something. So if you’re working on a project, just leave it partially done, or jot down your next steps in mind for the next time you sit down to work.
For instance, if I’m in the middle of writing something (such as this post), I’ll just leave it partially done and have a few bullet points in mind for the next time I complete writing.
Or, if I manage to finish writing this piece, I’ll have a task set out for myself the next day. Either way, I write down something I need to do before the day is over. This keeps me looking forward to doing something the next day and not having to face a blank page.
What this does is keep my upcoming task in the back of my mind as it brews. As it sits there, a new idea might pop up, or I might think of a better way to approach the task when I sit down.
How To Apply This Technique
First, think of a goal you’d like to make progress towards.
For example, let’s say you’re looking to draft some cold emails to send out for whatever reason (a request, job opportunities, etc.). Your aim is send out five to ten emails a day. And so, you send out a few emails on Monday…and then what?
You could have one of the following “to-do’s”:
- A list of people you want to reach out to the following day
- A few companies in mind from which to grab contact names
- A few emails saved in “Drafts” ready to go
The most important thing is that you keep the momentum going each day. At the end of the day, plan out a couple things you need to do for the next day while it’s still fresh.
Even if you’re not successful or face setbacks, keep the pipeline moving regardless. Don’t stall and wait to hear back. Just keep moving.
You want to continue having a “page-turner” at the end of every day. So instead of waiting for inspiration or staring at your screen wondering what you should do the next day, you’re ready to go since you know what you should be doing.
What if a task can’t be left partially done?
But what if whatever you’re working on has to be finished in segments?
Let’s take fitness for example. If you’re walking or jogging outside, you can’t just go halfway and decide you want to stop (hopefully not, anyway).
So how do you create an incentive for yourself to keep exercising the next day?
By making yourself feel obligated to continue where you left off. For instance, if you’re jogging and reach a certain landmark, you can pinpoint another landmark and make it a point to reach the further landmark the next day you go jogging again.
Another way to create a “page-turner” is by leaving your running shoes and a pair of socks out in a space where it’s impossible for you to ignore. Instead of putting away your shoes, put them near the door and place your exercise clothes near your bed so that you can pick up where you left off.
Now It’s Your Turn
You’ve just seen me use three examples of the “page-turner” technique to productivity.
Now it’s time for you to put this technique to practice.
What is the biggest goal on your mind that you’re looking to achieve? What can you do to make yourself want to continue right where you left off the day before?
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