Optimizing for leverage
The biggest single increase to my productivity came from one simple change.
I’ve started prioritizing my tasks for the day based on how much leverage they give me. The highest leverage task gets done first thing in the morning, then the second highest leverage task, and so on.
I’m loosely defining leverage here as impact, ROI on time spent, or “bang for the buck”. Every day in the morning before work, I ask myself “Which task will have the most disproportionate impact on my personal goals?”, and I do that one first.
Not the task I’m dreading the most (Sorry Brian Tracy).
Not the task that seems the most urgent.
Not the task that most people are asking me to do.
Only the task that has the most leverage.
Writing a guest blog for a popular publication is higher leverage than writing for our own, smaller blog. Prospecting and recruiting another engineer is higher leverage than trying to write code myself. Sending a batch of targeted business development emails is higher leverage than meeting a potential partner for lunch.
It’s hard to measure actual productivity, but my perceived productivity has skyrocketed since I started doing this, because I start every day doing something that feels important and meaningful.
The low leverage tasks, the ones that have the wrong ratio of effort to reward, get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list, and eventually never get done. No time is wasted on low-impact tasks- they’re rarely as important as they seem.
I suspect that implementing this as a companywide policy may lead to large gains in employee morale and productivity.