The Google technique that can exponentially increase your productivity

Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - 12:05

Google is a tech brand that almost all of us interact with in our daily lives. And as we've come to expect from the whiz kids at Google, they've produced another innovative solution to help us manage our daily lives - more specifically, managing our time. It's technique called 'Make Time' and we're going to explore how this method can exponentially increase your productivity.  

The development story:

How did 'Make Time' come about? Jeremiah Dillon, Head of Product Marketing at Google, had been exploring the concept of time management from the perspective of makers as opposed to managers. The original idea was developed by Paul Graham who proposed that managers manage their time by booking meetings. Their time is managed by working in half-hour or one-hour blocks. Their day is simply a game of Tetris taking place in their diary. If a meeting request comes in, it either fits or it doesn’t. When they attend a meeting, they do what they need to do i.e. listen, discuss, make decisions and for the most part, they’re done.

Makers as Paul Graham calls them, refers to people who make things such as software programmers, writers or designers.  They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day, at the least. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started. So they establish half day or full day blocks of 'Make Time' and they stick to them. Their managers and colleagues respect their 'Make Time' and avoid scheduling meetings for them during these periods unless absolutely necessary.

Google's Jeremiah Dillion took this idea to the next level and set the challenge internally and asked his team to be makers and to set themselves Make Time. His logic was that many employees leave time aside to work on a project but they simply don't have this time due to conflicting tasks such as other day-to-day meetings. The simple act of scheduling and committing to a time for completing projects, the likelihood of them being completed on time is improved exponentially.

To illustrate his point, Jeremiah pointed out an interesting study on this effect:

  • The control group was asked to exercise once in the next week - 29% of them exercised.
  • Experiment group 1 was given the same task, along with detailed information about why exercise is important to health (i.e., "you may lose your fitness") - 39% of them exercised.
  • Experiment group 2 was asked to commit to exercising at a specific place, on a specific day at a specific time of their choosing - 91% of them exercised.

So how do we schedule Make Time? Jeremiah Dillon has suggested the following:

  • Monday: Energy ramps out of the weekend — schedule low-demand tasks like setting goals, organising, and planning.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday: Peak of energy — tackle the most difficult problems, write, brainstorm, schedule your Make Time.
  • Thursday: Energy begins to ebb — schedule meetings, especially when consensus is needed.
  • Friday: Lowest energy level — do open-ended work, long-term planning, and relationship building.

Dillon suggests you should always base your Make Time toward the morning, before you hit a cycle of afternoon decision fatigue. Hold the late afternoon for more mechanical tasks.

And as you'd expect from Google, they’ve even gone to the trouble of explaining the concept of Make Time in an entertaining video below.

If you’re looking for more tools and techniques to maximise your effectiveness, minimise wasted time and control your workload AIM’s Time Management Short Course is a popular one-day program that we run right around Australia.