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Heighten productivity with the Next Six Things

Sep 27, 2018
By Susan HayesCulleton

The following five-minute strategy gives you laser-like focus and turns you into an unstoppable productivity machine. The Next Six Things technique will narrow down your focus and give you an achievable goal.

This technique is especially useful when you are flitting from one task to the next, not achieving much, because to-do items pop into your head and you’re having difficulty prioritising.

The Next Six Things

Take a look at or create a to-do list

If you’re wondering how to be more productive, your first reaction might be to create a to-do list.  It might be the things you need to do today or the things you need to do for a certain project or just all of the tasks playing on your mind.

Choose six items that can be achieved in a certain time frame

Give yourself a time limit and pick six tasks you can do within that time. This can be for the whole day or a two-hour productivity blitz. You will find that you often choose the most urgent things on your to-do list because achieving those will give you an immediate sense of relief, achievement and control.

Remove unnecessary distractions

Pop your phone in your desk drawer and close out your email. The aim of this technique is for you to complete your six chosen tasks before you begin anything else. Outside of absolute emergencies, you should apply laser-like focus to one thing after another.

It’s so tempting to just check your phone along the way, send out a tweet, look up a website, etc., but to do this technique properly, you need to exert self-discipline to avoid these distractions. 

When you're done, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back

This step is absolutely essential and shouldn’t be overlooked!

Plan the next six things you'll tick off your list

While you are still riding the high of your productivity blitz, you might list the next six things you’ll tackle in the next hour or the next day.

The rest of your list

You're probably looking at your to-do list and seeing more than six tasks to complete. That’s exactly why you need the Next Six Things! The Next Six Things temporarily narrows down your horizon to a limited number of tasks. This has the immediate effect of increasing your concentration by focusing your attention.

Suddenly your never-ending to-do list is reduced to six things you can achieve in the next hour or two or before the end of the day. Everything becomes a lot more manageable when you break it down into chunks. 

Susan HayesCulleton is Managing Director of the Hayes Culleton Group and Global Irish BECKSearch.