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Do you know that feeling you get when you watch a show and just like it happens to the good part, the episode ends on a cliffhanger? As the credits roll, you’re sitting there, frustrated and anxious, wondering what’s going to happen next.
I always hated it. At the same time, I understood why the writers did it. I was kept on the edge of my seat. The events of the story would stay fresh in my mind as I looked forward to the next episode, thinking about how everything would turn out.
I recently realized that this strategy can be applied to work and productivity. We can use the concept of cliffhangers to our advantage when trying to resume a task after a break. Let me explain how it works.
Here is the technique of the page turner.
Take a look: if you’re like me, you probably find it easy to keep working once you start a task.
But when it’s early in the morning and you haven’t touched your job in a while, it’s easy to put things off until later, since you don’t feel like doing anything.
In fact, here are three things that are more tempting to do than put your head down and work:
- Check your emails – it’s pretty much work – so that matters, right?
- Watch a trendy viral video – a very entertaining short video is just the thing to watch until you feel more motivated.
- Chat with your coworker – since it’s networking, what better way to start the day than to socialize?
This is where my productivity page turner technique comes in.
So imagine reading a book and putting it down until you can read the rest later. You can’t wait to read next time. You wonder what’s going to happen on the next page.
You can use this page flipping technique for productivity, when you are performing a task. So if you are working on a project, leave it partially finished or jot down your next steps in mind for the next time you get down to business.
For example, if I’m writing something like this article, I’ll leave it partially finished and have a few bullet points in mind for the next time I sit down to finish it.
Or, if I complete a task, I will schedule the next task for myself the next day. Anyway, I wrote something that I need to do in the future. It gives me an idea of what I should be working on the next day, so that I don’t have to sit at my desk and waste time trying to think of what to do.
The other benefit of this technique is that my upcoming task is brewing in the back of my mind. While he’s there, a new idea may crop up, or I might think of a better way to approach the task the next time I sit down.
Related: The 3 Ps of Productivity
How to apply this technique.
First, think about a goal you would like to progress towards.
For example, let’s say you plan to compose a few cold emails to send out for a meeting request or for job opportunities. Your goal is to send five to ten emails per day. So you send a few emails on Monday, and then what?
You can have one of the following tasks:
- Create a list of people you want to contact the next day.
- Write down a few companies to retrieve contact names.
- Prepare some raw emails saved in your “Drafts” folder.
The most important thing is that you keep the momentum going every day. At the end of the day, plan a few things you need to do for the next day while it’s still fresh.
Even if you are unsuccessful or encounter setbacks in your job, keep moving forward. Don’t pick up the phone and passively wait for something to happen. Keep moving.
You want to continue to have a page turner at the end of each day. So instead of hoping for inspiration to strike you or staring at your screen thinking about what to do, you can sit down and start a task right away.
Related: 4 Productivity Tips That Changed My Life This Year
What if a task cannot be left partially completed?
But what if something you’re working on needs to be finished in segments?
Take fitness for example. If you are walking or jogging outside, you cannot go halfway and decide to stop.
So how do you create an incentive for yourself to keep exercising the next day?
By making you feel compelled to continue where you left off. For example, if you jog and reach a certain landmark, you can locate another landmark and make sure you reach the landmark farther the day after your next jog. Or, you can change your jogging route to make things interesting.
Another way to create a page turner is to leave your running shoes and a pair of socks in an area you can’t ignore. Instead of putting your shoes away, place them near the door and place your workout clothes by your bed so you can pick up where you left off.
Setting progressive goals and creating environmental benchmarks can help keep you motivated to improve one area of your life.
Related: The Secret To Increased Productivity: Taking Time Off
Now it’s your turn.
You’ve just learned how the productivity page-turning technique can be used for writing, connecting with others, and exercising. Now, it’s time for you to put this technique into practice.
What is the biggest goal you are looking to achieve? What can you do to make yourself want to continue where you left off the day before?
Remember, it’s not about being the smartest. It is about being able to commit.