What the Great British Bake Off can teach us about productivity

23/10/2013 |

bake a cake of productivity


(Image courtesy of Matt Gibson via Flickr)

In celebration of the end of the TV show Great British Bake Off, and the return of our Tuesday evenings, we thought we’d run through a few things we’ve picked up from the show that could help us stay productive.

Plus, it might help you bake a nice cake!

Follow a Recipe

You wouldn’t start to bake a cake not knowing what you were making would you? So why start your day not knowing how it’s going to end? Make a plan, make a list and set yourself some targets to aim for – you’ll leave the office with a real sense of achievement not a big soggy mess of the day. Also, be realistic – if you have a day full of meetings, think what you will actually be able to get done.

Sift the Flour – aka deal with the lumps

You don’t want a lumpy cake and you don’t want a todo list with a whopping great lump in it either – i.e. a task that you keep putting off. Here at Think Productive UK we like to call these “frogs” or “big rocks”. Our advice: deal with them at the start of the day – you’ll be amazed how free your mind feels to continue with the rest of your work.

Bring on the Utensils

Whilst there are a host of time wasting gadgets and gizmos on your computer, there are a few that really can help you stay focused. A timer app, for example, can let you concentrate on a job without having to worry about missing a meeting or lunch. Think about using some email filters to get rid of all the spam and bacn before it hits your inbox.

We also suggest turning off notifications and all the other bleeps and whistles that come with a standard PC/Mac nowadays – Twitter and email alerts will only distract you. Set a timer to remind you to regularly log in to check them.

Use the right sized pans

We have different levels of attention – you may be super focused in the morning, but sluggish after lunch so plan your work schedule around your attention schedule – after all, there’s no point filling up the photocopier or running to the post office when you’re at your most switched on. Keep a log of your attention over a week, and see how your focus ebbs and flows over the day – then you can make the most of those focus moments.

Keep a tidy workspace

A messy workspace is a major enemy of productivity. All that time you spend rummaging around for a document, a pen or your wallet is time wasted. You’ll lose your train of thought and it will take longer to get things done. A good filing system, a shredder and a scanner can all help you find things quickly.

Prepare for the worst

Sometimes no matter what you do, things go wrong. You can help yourself by staying organised (see the last tip) but you also need the mental agility to rustle up a plan B. Being aware of the situation as it begins to happen can help, and give you a head start. Make sure you don’t over commit, and give yourself plenty of time for a contingency so you can still meet a deadline.

Don’t Forget the Sprinkles

It’s not all work, work work. Your mind does need to switch off from time to time. Plan regular breaks and treats for yourself – that could be a nice cup of coffee, a walk in the park or a huge slice of cake. Whatever you need to give yourself the pat on the back you need.


If you’d like to find out more about being productive, sign up for one of our public workshops

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