The A-Z of Personal Productivity logo

S is for Slope.
This is a technique I picked up ages ago for helping you to get the day off to a good start. It gives you a quick slug of momentum to build upon and ensure that you get your work off on the right foot.

Do you find that it's tricky to get started on your to-do list in the morning? You're still waking up, and there's always the temptation to check your email... make that pot of coffee... catch up on the gossip with your co-workers...

What you need is a small victory - an easy first task to get you back into the swing of getting things done. That's where the "slope" comes in.

Imagine, for a moment, that it isn't your productivity that you have trouble starting in the morning but instead it's your old, slightly beaten-up car. The starter motor is pretty much dead, and the battery is long past its prime. Once it's running, then everything's fine but the only way to get it going is to bump start it.

In that scenario, the best thing to do when you park up at the end of the day is to find a space at the top of a hill. Then in the morning you can release the parking brake and let it gather some speed down the slope before bump starting it. A few moments of planning the night before will save you a lot of hard work in the morning.

Now, back to your to-do list. The way to get off to a flying start in the morning is to park your to-do list on a slope the night before. At the close of the day run through the items on your to-do list and work out the first one or two tasks that you'll attack in the morning. Try to pick something that will be easy to get finished - after all, the idea is to park facing down the slope, not up it.

The next day you'll know what needs to be done first, and can polish it off before the rest of the day tries to wrest your productivity from you. With any luck, that early success will set the tone for the rest of the day.