Time Management Tip: Buckets of Work

Feeling overwhelmed is not uncommon. In an age of fast turnarounds, looming deadlines, and never ending emails, it seems anxiety is on the rise as we try to manage ALL the things swirling around in our brains. 

Thankfully, we can group all the little things into larger categories to address them in a more efficient blocks, increasing our output and decreasing our stress. Over the years of evaluating the many demands for our time, I have distilled the common work tasks into the following "buckets" of work.


Deep work – This is work which requires concentration and/or skill. It’s best to tackle during your peak time or when you are not distracted or interrupted. It’s ideal to do this in larger blocks of time (60-90 minutes) instead of small bursts. This is often the work that makes a different in your work and helps you reach goals. Some examples of this work could be writing, strategic thinking, reviewing items of importance, or higher level planning.

Surface work – This is work that does not require a lot of brain power. You could likely do this work outside of your peak performance time or with a TV on in the background. It can be addressed in small blocks as shifting in or out of this type of work, isn't as mentally challenging. Some examples of this work could be asynchronous communications like emails or handwritten notes, downloading or organizing files, or even weekly planning.

People work – This is anything that involves synchronous engagement with other people like meetings, calls, or events. The defining trait of this work is that it requires you to give your attention exclusively to the people/person in front of you at a specific time.

Now that you are aware of the common buckets of work, you can likely already see which of your daily tasks fall into each category, and how much time you need in each. By batching your work into the buckets you can block out time each day/week to focus on one bucket at a time. By doing this you will reduce the burdens of task switching and be able to accomplish more with less. If you are ready to start batching your work into buckets, but are unsure how to start, the First Fold coaching program would be good for you.

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