Most people believe that the key to increasing productivity is time management, but I’m personally not convinced that that’s the case. There is an endless list of books and courses on the topic, but I think that the self-organization tactics they teach are only a piece of the “productivity puzzle.”
While measuring and analyzing your use of time can undoubtedly be beneficial, it alone doesn’t consider the “human factor” that often impacts our productivity. What I mean by the human factor is that we are not machines and that our productivity is dictated by our attention and all the factors that contribute to it.
When you consider your ability to focus on a subject, you’ll likely realize that several variables impact it. Your attention will be affected by your emotional state, the time of day, your current location, other obligations, along with any other thoughts you have floating around. When planning how to spend your day, you must factor in these variables that will impact your attention (and ultimately your productivity).
Planning your day, or daily schedule, in detail is crucial to make yourself more productive. Ideally, you want to consider what tasks need to be completed and what environment and/or circumstances would allow you to stay focused to complete the task as effectively and efficiently as possible.
For example, if you’re a morning person, you want to do your heavy lifting (mentally demanding tasks) in the morning. If you’re working while traveling, knock-out simple tasks while in the airport instead of ones that require deep focus that can be done more effectively in an environment without distractions.
This may sound obvious, but this counters the narrative about just assigning blocks of time to your required tasks.
An additional crucial point about attention management is that it can (and should) conflict with your time management in certain instances.
In conclusion, understanding time management is a useful skill but understanding how to control your attention and allocate it is the key to productivity.