Fresh or Fried

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Created by Stephanie Lee, the "Fresh and Fried" system emphasizes that motivation and mental energy are limited, so to achieve more, you need to prioritize better.

The Fresh and Fried system is best described using this quote by its creator, "As the day wears on and you feel like you need to scrounge up bits of mental energy like you do with peanut butter at the bottom of the jar, your brain gets 'fried' in varying levels of crispiness." —Stephanie Lee.

Stephanie opines that to get the most out of your day, you need to frontload it with the most important and taxing tasks and reserve the later part of the day with mundane, low-cognition work.

At the beginning of your day, your cognitive ability is fresh; hence it is advisable to frontload important tasks. As the day goes on, your cognitive ability declines (fried); therefore, we should avoid heavy cognition tasks.

Why does it work?

  1. Helps block time for important tasks
  2. Emphasizes prioritization of tasks
  3. Simple to understand and implement
  4. Compartmentalises your day

How does it work?

  1. End every day with a simple to-do list.
  2. Set a 10-minute timer to list and prioritize your tasks for tomorrow.
  3. Add all the heavy cognition tasks at the beginning of the day.
  4. Also, include important and non-negotiable tasks at the beginning of the day.
  5. Schedule time for low-priority and low-cognition tasks to the end of your workday.
  6. If you haven't finished the important/ high cognition tasks, add them to the front of the following days' tasks.
  7. Repeat the process the next day.

"Fresh & Fried" in action

Xavier is a blogger who runs a popular financial advisory site from his home office. Sometimes he finds himself stuck with critical work at the end of the day when his motivation and cognitive ability are super low.

So Xavier decides to change his daily action plan, and he feels that the "Fresh & Fried" approach might work out for him.

Xavier starts by picking up a notebook every night before going to sleep and listing all the tasks he must do the following day.

He then adds a "P" next to those tasks that are a priority or require high cognition. He ends up with three tasks that are a priority and about five tasks that are not.

Now that he has a list of tasks that need his attention more than others, he schedules them for the beginning of the following day when his mental ability is fresh and high.

The morning tasks include:

  • Outlining his blog posts.
  • Drafting responses to press outreaches.
  • Ideating next week's content plan.

He even blocks time for each of these tasks and is done by lunch.

Post his lunch break and a small nap, he gets to tasks like emails, social media, and data entry. So he ends his day having completed the most important tasks early and other tasks later in his workday.

Xavier now decides to follow the "Fresh & Fried" routine to enhance his productivity and beat overloading himself with important tasks at the end of the day.

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