Ditch to-do lists, forget 5-year plans, and try productivity 'sprints' if you want to get more done, the author of a new book about the 4-day work week says

Ditch to-do lists, forget 5-year plans, and try productivity 'sprints' if you want to get more done, the author of a new book about the 4-day work week says
Joe Sanok is the author of Thursday is the new Friday. Joe Sanok
  • Stop making to-do lists and long-term work plans if you want to achieve your goals, an author says.
  • Limiting plans to one year forces you to focus on your top-tier items, Joe Sanok told Insider.

If you want to get more done, you need to ditch your to-do list, steer clear of five-year plans, and try productivity "sprints," according to Joe Sanok, the author of a new book about the four-day work week.

Sanok, a private consultant and podcast host, is the author of "Thursday is the New Friday," in which he argues that the 40-hour work week is a construct of early 20th-century "industrialists" and no longer applicable to the way we live.

That doesn't mean a four-day week is for everyone, Sanok said - but by knowing how to get the most out of your time, you can reduce your working hours as much as possible, he said.

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Sanok said there was no universal method for getting things done, and that people should find their own system - but he shared some productivity hacks that he believed most people could benefit from.

Avoid to-do lists

Don't use a to-do list - instead, put things that you need to do in your calendar and block the time off, Sanok said.


Time blocking is a technique favoured by productivity gurus, and many leading executives are said to be highly scheduled with their time.

Focus on six-month or one-year plans

Five-year goals are "done," Sanok said - at most, you should be looking a year ahead, which forces you to focus on your top-tier goals.

"We can say here's where we think we're headed, but where a person is or where a business is in five years from now, is completely different than where they think they're going to be," he told Insider.

Change your environment

Change your environment based on the type of work you're doing, Sanok said.

It could be as simple as trying different lighting levels for specific tasks, or a certain playlist based on what type of work you're doing, he said.


Sanok said that creating a familiar environment for different types of work helped him fall into flow-state faster while he was writing his book.

Try productivity sprints

Sanok recommended trying productivity sprints - blocks of time where you focus on just one task.

There are different types of sprints, and what works depends on your personality, the type of work, and when you do it, Sanok said.

For example, a "time block" sprinter will do one task, broken into smaller segments, for a long period of time - for example, back-to-back interviews.

A "task switch" sprinter needs to have variety, so will focus on one task intensely for a shorter period, before switching to another, Sanok said.


An "automated sprinter" will have the same type of task blocked out at the same time every week, he said.

An "intensive" sprinter needs to completely remove themselves from distractions in order to focus on a specific task.

Sanok said it's important to understand how much variety you need, and when you want to work.

Just get your head down

When it's time to work, run full tilt, Sanok said. Don't block time out on your calendar to focus on a specific task if you're just going to answer an email every couple of minutes.

"Every minute that you waste when you're working, that's a minute you're stealing from your family, your friends, your personal life," Sanok said.