No matter how much you plan, you can still end up getting very little done. Computer scientist Cal Newport is trying something new: ditching the plan altogether to see what he spends his time on.
Picture: Leonid Mamchenkov/Flickr
The truth is, whether you're aware of it or not, you have a system. If you find yourself repeatedly fixing the plan in order to get more work done without seeing any results, try what Cal is doing. Toss the plan altogether and see what you do with your new-found freedom. Keep a log of what you do so you can get a better idea of how to accommodate the plan to your workflow. As Cal puts it:
The theory behind anti-planning is that it exposes you to a much wider swath of the productivity plan landscape. Your journal will keep you updated on how well you’re doing, which provides the selective pressure needed to drive you toward some novel approaches to getting more depth out of your working habits.
People sometimes worry that anti-planning will tank their productivity. The reality is usually the opposite: the flexibility and constant self-reflection tends to increase the rate at which you produce valuable output.
It may not work for everyone, but if you've tried and failed to make yourself more productive with multiple given systems, you may as well give it a go. Just be sure to keep that journal. After all, the only difference between productivity and screwing around is writing it down.