If you are trying to improve your productivity levels, it may be because you are feeling that you are not as quick and effective during your workday as you want to be. You may even be feeling tired or overwhelmed.
But boosting your productivity will require extra effort, time, and energy before you start to see the results. There are tools to test, new strategies to implement, and generally a process of trial and error to find out your recipe for success.
Is it really worth it? Shouldn’t you save time and focus on the actual work instead? Wouldn’t that be easier – that might be what you’re thinking…
As the founder of Productivity Academy, I strongly believe that focusing on your productivity will make your life easier and your work faster and more meaningful. I believe it so firmly that I have made it the Productivity Academy’s mission to help you accomplish that.
The results are absolutely worth the sacrifice. I’m telling you all this as an entrepreneur and business owner, and not as some random idea or theory. I have tried all of the things I talk about myself in real life, or have helped other apply them and seen the results.
Better Productivity Will Make You Accomplish More
Reaching your goals is the whole point of being productive. Optimizing your efforts will make it easier in a number of ways:
Compress your work — you will be able to complete more tasks in the same amount of time
Expand your work scope — at the same time, you will be able to take on more projects or expand areas you did not have much time to focus on until now
Be more organized — templates, organized folders, easy-to-find items, clear processes… organization saves you time. This can on it’s own be a game changer for you in the long run.
Your Stress Levels Will Be Lower
If you increase your productivity, you will naturally reduce your stress levels, even without actively working towards it. Take the daily review, for example. By checking your tasks and goals in the morning and taking control of your day, you will minimize the chances to be sideswiped by a last-minute meeting and other inconveniences that can aggravate or annoy you.
Of course, the majority of your stress comes from worrying about your long-term targets. Will you reach them? Will you be successful enough? Realizing that you are making progress, that you are more organized and ultimately, more productive, will make sure you do not worry as much, while maintaining a sense of control and overall satisfaction with your results.
You Get to Do More of What You Want
This is possibly the greatest benefit of better productivity. When you find yourself having doubts and asking questions such as “why am I working harder? Why am I investing all this time into my productivity?” you will find the answer here.
You will not care about having to write an extra page or set up a new account when you know that those tasks are taking you where you want to be. Instead of looking at productivity as a sacrifice, try to think of it as something somewhat selfish that you are doing.
I know that can sound odd – but it’s OK.
You are improving your productivity to do what you want, faster, and better. You are testing new ways to help yourself, your family, your community. You will feel less stressed out. You will be a better entrepreneur, a better person to be around and ultimately, you will build better relationships.
A more productive person is a happier person who makes those around them happier too while reaching their goals and creating a better life. That’s the person I want to be, and the type of person that I want to be around. How about you?
I always say that you need to figure out what works best for you in order to be really productive.
If after trial and error, something finally makes your more productive, stick with it. But how do you measure productivity?
Simply checking tasks off a list is not the best method. Keep reading to find out what are the best ways to check your productivity levels.
Measure Your Productivity Against Your Goals
Counting tasks does not work. If you are a procrastinator like me, you will constantly think of things you need to do just to get yourself distracted.
Calling mom for once? Check.
You will have quickly completed a good number of tasks. But none of those work towards your business goals. A great way to measure your productivity according to your business goals is the daily review.
The daily review allows you to organize and prioritize your work and see it nicely laid out, so you know what you will need to do today in order to really be productive. At the end of the workday, you can always check the review again to see if you hit your productivity target.
Monitor Your Stress Levels
If you manage your priorities well, your body will let you know. Instinctively, you know when you have been productive enough because if you haven’t, you start to stress out.
Of course, this is subjective. Some people get more anxious about hitting their targets than others.
Your stress level is a sort of internal barometer. If you start feeling overwhelmed, it is because probably something is getting out of control. Maybe you just need to check your daily review or long-term goals because you have lost track of your progress, maybe you are actually falling behind.
The point is to take a few minutes, or as much time as needed, and figure out what is causing that feeling. Then, fix it by taking action.
Track Your Time to Measure Your Productivity
Time management can do wonders for your productivity. But it can also help you measure it. By tracking your time, you will be able to see how long it takes you to complete specific tasks, and what are your biggest time wasters.
There are two main types of time tracking:
Manual time tracking. Time blocking is a great way to do this. Just divide your time into blocks (15-30 minutes is the perfect amount for me) and write down everything you do during the block, including Facebook, email checking, etc. The Best Self Journal can also help.
Time management tools. If you work well with tools and applications, you can use them to go with your time tracking. Software like RescueTime will help you track the websites you waste time on with detailed reports and will even block the biggest time wasters to maximize productivity.
As always, take the best and leave the rest.
Try a few of my techniques and see what works for you. In the long run, you will have created your personal, customized, productivity-boosting methods.
It’s Adam with the Productivity Academy. This is Episode 59. Today’s the 15th of November 2018. And we got some really good questions today. So one of them was from one of the subscribers last week, I believe, let’s see if I have this up front. So after getting off schedule, like with traveling, or just loss of continuity and routines, you know, stuff comes up, how long does it or how do you get back into the groove without it becoming overwhelming? And how long does it generally take you? So that’s a really good question covering a lot of areas.
And then the second question for today is, how will time management help you be successful? So both really good questions, we’re going to get them to those in just a second. Real quick. If you’re watching live, that’s awesome. Glad to have you in the group. And if you have a question you can ask it. I’ll be checking those out here on the side. And if time permitting I’ll get to those if you’re not watching live or watching the replay. That’s awesome. You’re probably watching it on YouTube. You catch it live if you want by checking out the description below all the link to the Facebook group and you can join for free you just got to answer some questions about you know what you’re interested in productivity you know if you need any extra help or information just want to make sure that we get people in there who obviously like ourselves who want the productivity or ended processes and apps that help them do that all that good sort of stuff.
So also if you’re watching on YouTube, you can hit the subscribe button, stay up to date, obviously get notified about these as well as things like productivity app reviews and some one off videos, things going through processes. Automation is all that sort of stuff. So let’s get into it. Very first question day was again, it was about after getting very off your schedule or a loss of continuity. Maybe something came up Yeah, just some last minute travel or vacation. How do you get back into the groove without it becoming overwhelming and how long does it usually take you so this is a really good question. I personally identify really strongly with this because I know that on top of this question directly about after it, there’s also issues when traveling like well you know maybe your business traveling but you still don’t have enough time here either not you’re familiar environment or you’ve got these things that are normally taking up periods of time when you would be really productive say you’re going to an event during meetings.
So there’s that aspect to you. But let’s just focus on afterwards. I think you know, the important part of this, it comes back down to making sure you have that time let’s say you come in on a Sunday night, you know, it’s 11pm you finally get home and you get up the next day and how are you going to get back on track? So start with the daily review. When you get up on Monday morning, you that daily review, make sure that you’re keeping that habit built and you’re aware of the things like what are your tasks, what’s on your calendar, you know, don’t let that overcome. You don’t, don’t sidestep it and say I’m tired from travel or you know this or that because by at least acknowledging these are all the things that have going on, you can start to prioritize them and sort them, okay? And you can say, Okay, I can’t get to this thing or this is truly important. This has to be done today. Because a lot of this after that point becomes really subjective.
You know, some people take maybe just that first day back, it’s, it’s tough for them, or some people just get right back into it. And they go full bore. I know, for myself, generally, the first day after travel and coming back, I start to fade off pretty quick in the afternoon, I can generally get back into it. But I find that even more so than usual days, you know, by the afternoon, I’m not really able to focus and so I mean, I can do tasks. It’s not that I just like stare at the wall or something. But I find that you know, my productivity really goes down and so I try to do things like I don’t schedule intense meetings where it’s actually you know, like maybe diving into some details. I could definitely have a conversation with someone but I would never schedule like a financial review or something like that in the afternoon right after traveling.
And, you know, I think that this is important and why I’m talking about myself as because you know, when you’re not productive, and you need to schedule around that, just doing that morning reviewer putting it in your calendar, you’re not magically going to become more productive, because you told yourself, you have to do it right, kind of set yourself up for failure, which is the exact opposite. You don’t want to reinforce that you want to reinforce the good stuff. So I think that what you can do is to try to do what I’m talking about with scheduling the downtime. So my example if I know, you know, in the late afternoon or mid-afternoon on that first day back that my productivity just going to nosedive then I schedule around that, okay, I don’t plan meetings ahead of time I save things like maybe I need to do some reading that time or maybe I pushed back and do some exercise during that time.
So instead of, you know, having some time where I’m at the computer, I’m up I’m moving I know that for myself that words so for myself the length of time This takes generally I noticed one to two days. To get back to normal, and generally it’s just one day. And a lot of that is just building that momentum. So this kind of goes back to ideas on on being productive instead of, or the rather, there’s two ways of doing this, like the eat the frog method where you did it the biggest and most important task and get it done right away, or you build the momentum for myself, in this case offering coming off and travel, I wouldn’t try to tackle the most important or I would have tried to tackle the important but I wouldn’t maybe take the biggest asked I would want to build that momentum back up since I know that have kind of, you know, I’m off course a little bit, I need to get back into it. And so I want to build that momentum. So I keep going.
And then I think that this also, once you get into this process, you can look ahead and say, Okay, I’m traveling this week. I’m leaving on a Thursday. I’m going to come back on Monday, but I’m flying on Monday during normal time. So I need to schedule reschedule some things and I know I’m going to get in late so what does my Tuesday actually look like and being smarter about that, instead of saying, I’m just going to keep my Tuesday schedule the same, right? If you do that, you’re going to set yourself up for a rough day when you could have maybe moved a meeting or two around, you could have gotten some work done ahead of time and cleared out I’m or whatever it is you need to do exercise, go to the grocery store and make sure you get the deed those are the main idea. So getting on top of it, and then getting in front of it are some great ways to get back into your group without it becoming overwhelming.
Really good question. Okay. So the second question for today is how will time management help you be successful? Okay. I think that this is a great question and it’s something I think maybe they touch on in schools. I’m trying I was trying to think about that earlier that was I know obviously it’s you know, deadlines and schedules and that sort of a thing but I think that in my education didn’t touch on what I think to be one of the most important areas that I think as an adult and maybe as a good now I just don’t recall this but this one of the single most important things I like about time management how it can help you be successful is by making you trustworthy and accountable and I don’t think rather I think that a lot of people underestimate this and by that I mean for example have had hiring conversations have come up both in the past and recently and we said okay we have two candidates are few people person a over here has done an extremely good job but you know they’re missed a few deadlines and you know, they just kind of like no show at one time know we’ve got this person who’s shown person being has done a good job, you know, no major issues but you know, they’ve shown up they may not be the next expert in the field that show up there on time they complete their past on time and they’ve been very community Well, to me, that’s a no brainer I want that person who is trustworthy and who’s good with their time and knows how to manage their time because we can teach her, show them how to do the rest. But the people who are not able to be good with time management that really impacts more than just themselves and starts to show.
So there’s kind of two ways you can look at that. And one is, you know, looking at yourself, and I think that that’s important to do you want to be that type of a person who’s good at time management was enjoyable, who’s trustworthy who people know they’re going to get done, and they’ll have the time to do what they say they’re going to do. And then also, you know, people you work with, or you hire, what kind of person do you want?
Secondly, I think that it’s going to make you and your projects you work on more stable over time, like anything project management, cost estimates, whatever it is, anything you’re doing this takes time you don’t just apply some of these tactics I’m going to talk about a minute and instantly become a more successful with your time management. But over time you develop these skills and I think that that’s really important as well. Because this feeds into your overall productivity, right? You’re able to be a lot better about managing your time managing your projects time, and you get better at that over time. And you’re going to have less of those instances where, for example, your your project into taking too much time or really under estimating what you need these things, right. And then the third item, I think about how time management can make you successful and by being able to help yourself and those around you with lower stress levels. Okay, you know, there’s always projects where, hey, there’s some last minute stuff, you gotta fire you got this and that.
But, you know, there’s definitely some serendipity here where, you know, people who work on their time management skills tend to have less issues like that right. And, you know, some of that is luck, but some of that is definitely it’s coming to those people who put in the time I’m working on their time management and they have less stress because they’re putting in that time and saying, Okay, I’m working on my time in me skills so that my projects, you know, finish within the allotted time, I’m able to estimate correctly, I plan my day out so that I’m not freaking out and dealing with the wild swings in these, you know, getting sideswiped by all this stuff. And then that I product is wrecked in the sense that just people being around you less stressed and then people report to you or you manage people that you know, of course, you’re directly influencing them. I think that that’s important. So to build on that though, let’s talk about some of the common time management tools. And again, I’ll talk about the daily review and schedule I think that this is really important. This is the first step you can take. And if you do nothing else in your day, that this greatly helps you taking that time to prioritize your tasks after you’ve kind of gotten everything in from whatever it is to do is Evernote, whatever you use your notebook and going through prioritizing scheduling, you know, making sure everything dies with your calendar.
It’s good to go. Alright, so getting in the habit of doing that is really important. Okay, I mentioned it used to do lists, obviously whether I don’t care about if it’s a sticky note. Or if you’ve got your best self journal, whatever it is using a to-do list and getting better about that and finding out what works for you. It’s really important. Also using the calendar very important. If you’re involved with any sort of interactions with other people, that’s probably important to use your calendar, I think that this is great for time blocking as well. And this helps you get better about estimating how long it’s going to take something. So an example from myself is on Thursdays, I need to edit articles. And before we just had a time block for working on a specific business. However, now I need to edit articles from two companies. And so I need to start really looking at how I scheduled that out because it’s in my calendar, but it’s not yet broken out. And so what I want to do is use that and say, okay, I’ve done it for two weeks. Now I understand that this could take 45 minutes to an hour so I don’t actually have a two and a half hour time block. I have 45 minutes of editing and then I’ve got the remainder of the time for whatever else it is and working on.
Some other tools you can use specifically for this besides your calendar is Focuster or and if you haven’t checked that out, there’ll be a link available for that. It’s really cool service, is a task management app that integrates both ways, I guess I would say with your calendar. So like Google Calendar, it’ll tie into your calendar, you’ll go in and type in a task and it’ll find x available time for you to do it. Which is pretty cool.
Alright, also just avoiding distractions. Okay, this is a very easy to implement, but basic but very effective time management. If you have, say, for example, a two hour time block then, you know, put down the chat as you’re probably not supposed to be using them anyways, when you’re supposed to have a two hour time block. So do that. Help yourself grab your phone, put it out of reach, put it in the other room, put on some headphones if you can. All right, and then get the most out of that time.
Another little tip that I use to get the most out of out of my time and then to accomplish the things that I want. Okay, again, going back to the idea of a time block is to write out what I want to do beforehand. And that’s literally what I do on a post it note. So I’ll sit down and take a minute or two and let’s say I’m going into a two or three hour time block just write down you know what it is what are the top three to five priorities about our little tasks and then go after them and start at the top and work your way down and that helps clarify and make sure that you’re not missing anything then also will help you estimate better I just did one block where I was talking about anything the articles and I ended up only have enough time to do to go the remaining for item now moving forward, I think go back and say okay, if that’s the amount of time I have, then I need to change the process around or anything myself more time and over time that will become more accurate.
All right, I’m just to go back on another one about avoiding distractions. I think that this one is also really important. Do not leave your email open. Okay, this has to do with like, shout outs as well, whether it’s Slack, Skype, chat, whatever. But do not leave your email open. Check it at set times throughout the day. I personally tried to do this twice. I’m not saying I never go into my email, you know, a lot of times I either need to retrieve some information or whatever it is, but once I’m out of there, okay, and that it’s a skill that I’m still working on. Definitely. But I tried to do that. And then at the end of the day, you know, I don’t do this all the time. I try to stay out of it as much as I can. But I’m normal.
And I certainly don’t think anyone is going to just ignore their email but until the mid afternoon and I just really do try to keep it closed and not open and I found that to be really effective. And then the other thing you can do with emails is to segment your email so email user just about anyone nowadays has filters you could set up to you can say, you know, like emails from Amazon, you know, go into an Amazon folder and you know, at the end of the day, maybe you look at those and say is there is a lot of care about, but you don’t want that stuff in front of your face. Okay. And so the when you do go into your inbox, you’re only seeing the ones that are important and then I need to respond to you.
So hopefully that’s helpful. I think that you know, time management management can certainly make you more successful like I said, by making more trustworthy and dependable it’s going to make you and your projects more stable I’m and help yourself and those around you just have a lower stress level which is just going to help you in all sorts of ways. So all right, I think that’s it for today. Those were some really good questions. I don’t see anything else so I’m gonna sign off and just say if you’re watching the replay, you can hit subscribe, stay up to date, or if you want to, you can come join us in the Facebook group. Yes. Oh, you just hit that answer a few questions and make sure you want to be in a group of talking about productivity processes. Automation is all that good stuff to help you and your business. That is it for this week. I’ll see you next time.
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Many of today’s most successful businesses used to be yesterday’s side projects. Whether you are thinking of starting your own business or just want to take on a new project or hobby in your free time, if you are passionate about it then you’ll need to make time for it.
But is it doable? Will you actually have the time and energy to start this new venture? No one wants to start another project and lose steam a few weeks down the road or just get burned out.
In this article, I will share with you my best tips to make room for your side projects and set yourself up for success.
The Daily Review
I can’t stress enough how important the daily review is. It is at the core of my time management and productivity strategy, and it is there because it works.
Making sure to carry out a daily review will allow you to take a step back and analyze your day, identify goals and tasks, find motivation and finally, plan your time accordingly.
When you woke up this morning, you may have thought that you would be able to work for four hours on your new project today. But what if something came up, or you had forgotten about another commitment?
Sitting down and focusing on time management is the best way to make sure that you will assign yourself a doable amount of work, without becoming stressed and nervous as the task list grows but your time runs out.
Once you have a draft of your daily review, make it real by logging your tasks on your calendar, BestSelf journal, or preferred tracking tool. Your side project task will officially find room in your day and be more likely to be accomplished.
Take a Break
When you are working on several projects – even when one of those is your full-time job – it is all the more important that you allow yourself to unwind and relax in between tasks. Let’s say that you finish work at 5 pm. Go for a walk, read something interesting, meditate, have dinner.
If you have given yourself time to relax and let your mind wander, you will be both physically and mentally ready for the next part. You will be refreshed and more productive, whether you have planned to work on your side project for 1 hour or four. Once you feel like going back to your desk, set yourself up for success by listing out what it is you want to accomplish during this period (be specific) and how long you plan on working. Once you’ve accomplished your tasks or the time is up – stop working on it and give yourself time to unwind.
Note: Be sure to have a notepad or app like Evernote handy after this. Your brain will still be thinking about what you were working on and it’s natural to have ideas that may make you restless or not able to sleep. So have a system – put those ideas onto the notepad or app so that it’s out of your head and somewhere safe where you can deal with it tomorrow.
It is normal to have days when you can’t match your own expectations and finish the work on time. But a good way to limit that is to be realistic with yourself. We all tend to assign ourselves too many tasks and end up feeling frustrated and guilty when we can’t complete them.
By using different time management techniques, you will be able to forecast more accurately your productivity and the results you can expect from yourself.
Hopefully, these simple yet effective steps will allow you to make time for your side project and no matter how little that is, be productive and achieve the results you want.
Distractions are productivity’s number 1 enemy. This is why we are constantly trying to come up with new ways to avoid them and invent new tools to keep them at bay. Noise-canceling headphones, apps to block social apps and websites, and more.
So if we’re going to be using these tools (and I do) we might as well use the best ones possible. There are plenty of options out there that will help you reduce your distractions and save you time. In this article, I will share with you a few techniques and tools I find useful to save my time and be more productive.
Rescue Time is time management software that has been around for years. I have used it for a long time, and I have to say, I am impressed with the way it has been improved recently.
As with all tools, it may not work for everyone, and you will have to try it in order to figure out if it will make you more productive. But if I had to recommend a tool that helps with tracking mobile time and keeping away from distraction, Rescue Time would be it.
If you need some intensive focus time, Rescue Time will allow you to block specific websites and apps. It will, for example, prevent you from entering your email inbox unless a certain amount of time has passed.
Additionally, you can review reports that show how much time you spent on websites and apps both at your desktop computer and mobile. If needed you can add in offline time manually. This is a great way to start tracking your time and seeing where you can make improvements without spending a ton of time manually categorizing or tracking.
Yes – as the screenshot shows, I don’t spend much time on Facebook, but I certainly do in Reddit! The goal isn’t to completely eradicate social or non-productive time, but to make sure you understand how much time you’re spending on it. So, for about 1.5 hours a week of Reddit and Facebook I’m actually happy.
Be Aware of Your Time
Beside external help and handy tools, the best way to improve your productivity is to create your own framework. The first step to have a framework in place is being aware of how you are spending (or wasting) your time. The more you know about your time management habits, the more effective you will be at improving them.
I like to dedicate some time to “time blocking” and keep track of my own activity. Checking your activity is a difficult thing to do, but the payoff is huge. I usually divide my working time into blocks of 15 minutes and analyze what I do during that time. It is one of the most effective ways to find out where I am wasting most of my time.
If you’ve never done this before it can be tough, but give it a shot. Come back every hour or so and quickly fill in what you’ve been doing. If you can stick with it for a day or two you’ll gather some very powerful insights into what you actually spend your time doing. This is a great monthly or quarterly task.
Be honest with yourself. Write down your activities on a post-it, notebook, or wherever you prefer. If you are checking Facebook, make sure to write it down; if you are looking at your email, write that down too. From the data you will gather about yourself, you will be able to come up with a strategy: maybe you need to keep your email tab closed for the whole morning, and only check it before lunch…
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique is a popular time management method. It encourages focus and productivity by allowing your mind to relax and get distracted during specific times. The original Pomodoro technique was inspired by a kitchen timer and is based on focus times of 25 minutes:
Decide on a specific task and set the timer for 25 minutes.
Work on your task (25 minutes) until the timer rings.
Take a short break (2-5 minutes)
Repeat steps 1-3 four times
Take a longer break (15-30 minutes).
Everyone’s productivity and energy levels work differently, so you can use trial and error to find out what the best amount of focus time is for you.
Try to follow the philosophy behind the Pomodoro technique — if you know you have a manageable chunk of time to focus, do so intensively. No apps, no notifications, no getting up. You will have your breaks to do that, relaxing your body and letting your mind wander freely.
Make the Best Out of Your Calendar
What is better than a calendar to help you manage your time? It keeps track of it and allows you to plan what is coming. The best way to be in control of your day is to plan it ahead.
I often talk about my daily review and how it is at the heart of my time management strategy. The daily review always finds space on my calendar – it actually is the driver for the rest of my scheduling.
You can choose whatever works for you: an old-fashioned paper calendar, an online calendar, or your BestSelf journal.
I hope all of the above will inspire you to try new time management strategies. As usual, take away what best fits your needs, and shape it to your circumstances.
Or put more succinctly, Take The Best, Leave The Rest.
Realizing that we have no Internet connection can be one of the small nightmares of modern day life. We feel lost, bored, frustrated, and definitely unproductive unless we’ve prepared for it. I’m not going to lie – there have been times where I’ve been really frustrated when I realized I couldn’t download the doc I needed or get the app loaded…which led to figuring out some ways to make the best use of this time.
Besides looking back a few years and thinking how odd it is that we could live without being connected 24/7, maybe it is time to figure out ways in which you can make the best out of your offline time. Read on to find my suggestions.
Learn Something New
Of course, what you can do offline depends on your surroundings.
Waiting at the post office or on the train is different from being stuck in traffic at the wheel.
If the circumstances allow it, good old reading is the star of offline productive activities. You won’t need a connection to pull out your paper book or turn your Kindle on (hopefully that battery is charged!).
Reading is also likely to be on the list of those things you really wish you could do more, but you seem to never find the time for. We can expand this to learning in general — from books and elsewhere.
According to a McMaster University & UC San Diego-based Coursera course, humans learn in two modes, the focused mode, and the diffuse mode. During a diffuse learning session, your mind may not entirely be in the moment, it will let thoughts room to wander freely, but concepts are still coming at you and being absorbed. Think of those times when you went for a walk and just thought about things in general with no particular aim or considered an idea or issue from many angles without focusing tightly.
Focused mode is what it sounds like – keeping distractions out and working on one thing.
If you can, try to use both modes: actively read or listen to something, and then let your mind explore and absorb.
If you think about it, we’re all trying to fill up empty times — in the elevator, waiting for your coffee, waiting for the bus … I bet your first move is pulling out your phone to check your emails, notifications, social media, right?
Try to be bored instead from time to time. It is a developable skill. Be aware of your surroundings and observe things and people around you (even when they are all looking at their phone).
You can even use that time to talk to someone next to you, meet someone new, or learn about where you’re at.
Whatever you do, you will realize that you are no longer desperately trying to be busy and that those few minutes of inactivity are actually better for your brain and productivity than any email you may have read.
Write Something Meaningful
If your Internet is off but your hands are free, this could be the perfect time for writing.
Postcards and letters are my favorites in this case, because they add that old-fashioned personal touch that I know anyone would appreciate.
You don’t have to feel the pressure to write a lot. Consider this: if you wrote a postcard once a week or once every other week, nowadays you would be considered a prolific writer. It is not that much of an effort, but it will help you strengthen your relationships, and possibly even improve your writing skills.
I wrote these suggestions in order to give you a starting point, a few ideas to implement before finding out what works for you.
Ultimately, it is not about writing or reading, but doing any of those offline things you never find the time for, that will really add value to your knowledge or productivity instead of staring at the phone or other distractions.
Everybody, I’m Adam with Productivity Academy and today we got some really good questions we’re going to be going over, we’ve got one that I really like, which is why is productivity important? Which is a good question that sometimes hear, you know, or people get kind of fixated on like, well, I just don’t want to work harder, you know, things like that.
So we’re going to get into that a little bit and hopefully able to offer some insights about why I find productivity so interesting and why I think you should to also then kind of following on to that a little bit about how productivity is measured. And giving this from my standpoint as an entrepreneur and a business owner, not as, you know, like big scale like economic like indicator type of thing, kind of more of down in the trenches and I think how you can or might want to measure productivity. And then last question scheduled for today is how should one plan out their day to be most productive so
Good questions. And then if anything comes in live all I will be taking that so long as we have time available. So real quick, if you’re first watching this or your haven’t watched one before, I appreciate it. That’s great. Glad to have you in the group. If you’re watching the replay, that’s cool too. You can leave comments, I’ll check those out. But if you want to come join us in the free productivity group, you can find the description down below. You can also subscribe and stay up to date with app reviews stuff about productivity processes, time management, all that good stuff. So if you’re into that you’re in the right place.
So let’s get on with it. This is Episode 58 and today is the eighth of November 2018. So let me pull up the first question here.
Okay. The question is, why is productivity important? So I’m going to go over the reasons that I know for myself are true and the ones that I know are true for other people as well that I know Okay, so that’s the only basis I’m going to put this on, I’m not a professor or anything.
But I think that, you know, it really does boil down to. And this may sound simple, but you can accomplish more, okay? If you’re productive, you’re going to be able to, there’s so many facets to this.
But the general idea is you can accomplish more. And I don’t just mean this in the sense of like, you’re going to crank out more work, okay, I don’t want to be more productive just to do more of the same stuff, but I’m going to be able to accomplish more and maybe that means accomplish more in a shorter period of time, which would basically be taking the same amount of stuff and compressing that perhaps it’s I want to start a new project, you know, and I’ve already got, you know, my time is built for this set of block but if I’m able to be more productive, I can work on that project as well.
Whereas before that wouldn’t have been possible so I think that that also ties into reaching your goals Okay, if you want to reach your goals than being more productive and working towards those goals, if part as part of that and being more productive helps.
You reach your goals. And it can do that in a myriad of ways. But one of those is by helping you be more organized, which I consider to be part of being productive. If you have, for example, let’s say you’re sitting down to write, and for like, for myself, I need to write an email or two every week. Well, if I have the links to maybe the template, I have a link to the Google Doc with common links, or maybe some images I put in there, I have all that stuff in my calendar and it’s right there.
And I can just click and open it, then I end up saving a lot of time. I’m not worried about finding stuff. I’m not getting lost down the rabbit hole of like Google Drive or Dropbox and looking for stuff so all that’s really detail-oriented, but it really starts adding up and that can help me reach my goals. I want to be on time I want to deliver an email once a week at the same time every week with content that I think is important and that’s a goal for me and if I’m not organized and I’m not productive than that goal doesn’t happen.
Okay. And right along with that is lower stress, okay, I really believe this, that if you’re able to be more productive, then as you increase your productivity you’re putting into place the systems and processes that help you bring down the stress level. Okay? I’m one of those is doing something like I always talk about the daily review, looking at your day seeing what’s coming up under, you know, so you’re not getting sideswiped by a last minute meeting. If you do your morning review first thing in the morning, you’ll understand what’s coming up and won’t miss any of those things.
And then you start getting into the longer term planning and, you know, not worrying about these big projects because you’re constantly you know, making that progress, you’re being more productive, you’re being more organized and just starts to bring down the stress levels already touched on it. But I find the organization to be alreally good part of this. As you get more productive and you try to do more.
Let’s say you’re setting up the systems and I’ll use that email example again, if you want to do that better than you need to be more organized and sometimes it really is as simple as well, I put the link to a Google Doc in my calendar, so that when the calendar event fires, all I have to do is click. And it sounds simple, but you’re saving yourself 30 seconds, a minute, two minutes. And if it happens daily or weekly, that time really starts to add up. And you start to see the benefits of that organization and productivity, which kind of in my mind snowballs and you really get that momentum and which helps you continue to do it.
And then one of the last question or last reasons about why I think productivity is important is because you get to do more of what you want to do. And, you know, I think that that’s for me, the really big benefit and if you have to remind yourself about why am I doing this, or why am I working harder? Why am I investing time in these systems and processes because you’re reaching your goals and that’s to me what it’s all about.
Again, I don’t care if I’m cranking out, you know, an extra page of writing or doing this or doing that, like is this getting me to where I want to go and you can look at that from a selfish point of view if you want, you know, just literally I’m getting what I want or more than likely what you’re doing is also helping you. It’s helping your family. If you’re, you know, getting your goals reached, you’re lowering your stress and you’re more organized. Do you think you’re going to be a better person to be around? Of course, and, you know, are you going to be able to have better relationships? Of course. So I see this, you know, both sides, you’re getting what you want, and then you’re giving other people the best person that you can be. So I consider that a pretty big one.
Okay, so the second question for today was about how his productivity measured. Okay, and again, I’m going to approach this from a very down to earthlow-levell perspective. But I think up front, you probably don’t want to be just taking off tasks and really counting that as being productive. Okay, the reason for that there’s a few but I know, excuse me, I know myself, you know, I tend to productively procrastinate were like oh, I need to, you know, make sure the laundry is done or should maybe pick up real quick, or I should clean up my desk like no, because you can check that stuff off.
And wow, I finished, you know, 15 tasks today. But if you didn’t do that one thing that actually, you know, made progress on a project or your business or whatever it is, then, you know, are you truly being productive? And the answer’s no, probably not. So I think that kind of measuring this in terms of your goals, and how you have things laid out is really important. And there’s no set way to do this. I just do this a little bit with the daily review where you organize things according to their priority, or you prioritize, and then you can batch life like tasks.
So maybe you need to create a couple videos, so you batch all those together and do them all at the same time. Okay, and there’s different ways to do this. But you basically, again, do whatever works for you. Another one for me is looking at kind of stress levels, okay, if you’re productive and you’re organized and you have manage your time, well, you’ll generally have lower stress levels, okay. And this again, is it’s very different from person to person.
But overall, it’s it’s true. I mean, one person may be up here on their stress levels and is okay with it. And another person can only take it up to here. And and the idea is just that you can tell when you’re doing things correctly and when you’ve managed your time well, and when you’re being productive versus those times, you’re, you’re not.
And so I use that as kind of an internal barometer of Hey, am I really, you know, being productive and am I organized in the correct ways because if not, I know that I start feeling stressed. I’m starting to feel overwhelmed because I’m probably not taking the time to do a proper daily review for I’m not investing the time to properly organized my tasks and automate them, delegate them, hand them off, or just delete them and get them off my plate because they don’t belong there.
And this slide right into it as time management. You can kind of measure this if you want to do like time blocking. So I talked about this a lot and it’s a really hard task to do but like today, you can see the chicken scratch it as my handwriting here doing 15 minute increment.
And going through and going back. And I’m tracking. And I tried to do this now about once a quarter because I use my best self journal filled out in the morning. But then about once a quarter, I’ll go through and do this where I do a really kind of deep dive into my day, every hour. So I’ll go back and fill in exactly what I was doing. So I’m going to do that for a day or two, and then go back and see, hey, is there you know, areas where I was where I was really messing around, you know, why did it happen, you know, did I end up on Facebook? Or did I end up in my email in the middle of morning when I shouldn’t have been there. And so doing that and looking at how you’re managing your time can also be a way for you to measure your productivity.
Another way to do this, if you want to be more factual or quantitative, I suppose is to use a tool I think that that time blocking technique as far as tracking your time is really good. And then you can combine that with something you use every day like rescue time and there’s a lot of these apps where you can track what websites you’re on block access to certain ones like staying office social media.
So I won’t say too much more about that other than check it out if that’s something you’re interested in. So it runs in the background, usually a mobile and your desktop. So you can get a little review of, Hey, this is where I’m actually spending my time versus what you think you’re doing.
So as far as all of those measurement techniques, I would just say, take the best leave the rest, you know, if there’s one of these that really makes sense to you and you see results from you know, that that’s then the best measurement of productivity. So for a lot of people is probably your goals, again, not test but are you accomplishing your goals and then seeing how that changes over time?
So, good question. Let’s see the last question for today. How should one plan out their day to be most productive? Okay, so I’m not gonna go deep into this but I think the best way that you can do this is to have a daily review and whether you’re using a notebook using notepad on a computer using a best Self journal, whatever it is, but you sit down and you go through your day. And the basic idea is to go through your calendar, go through any tools you use, like Evernote, you gather that all together so that then you have an idea of what’s going on in your day.
And you know what loose items you have. And then from there, you can organize. And by that I mean you prioritize your tests, you can batch like, tasks together, you can fill out what meetings you have, what things can’t be moved, then you take your prioritize task list, and you start going in there and assigning the most important things first, all right. And I think that that’s obviously the really important part is you’re getting those important things done first, right? You’re trying not to focus on like putting out fires or menial little tasks.
But I will say that there’s a couple different ways to do this. And some people believe wholeheartedly and eating the frog and that just means you do the one thing that absolutely must be done whether you like it or not, and you get it done first, because once you do that, everything else is easier.
The other way of looking at this as well. Start with something small. Get the moment meant building and you know build off of that. So it might be like you do a test it takes five minutes you know you can do it and you get that satisfaction of checking it off or clicking the button and then you kind of move on to other tests so I leave that up to you what works best for yourself but I think knowing that about yourself it is important and so trying both of them and seeing what works is is a good way to do that also knowing when you’re productive so that you can schedule around that most people are sometime in the morning if you’re early morning maybe you can get some work done very early before others you know are either up or at your work or you can you know plan around this so I think there’s a lot you can do there but also say.
Don’t forget to take breaks very important if you’re going to use like Pomodoro technique, you can work really hard and focus and cut up structures for 25 minutes. But then you’ve got to take a few minutes and let your brain you know, chill out. Whether you’re just focused on a spreadsheet, you’re trying to learn something, whatever it is, the brain works really well by focusing but then You know, pulling back and going and doing something else, maybe go for a quick walk, get a drink of water, whatever it is.
The other thing is knowing what’s your post backup?
Oh, yeah. Gotta admit that note. So rolling with the punches, right? A lot of this, you know, people, I think, that have a hard time when they first see a lot of like time management techniques, or they’re there, they want to be more productive, but they’re not sure how to go about it. They feel maybe intimidated or they feel that it’s they’re being locked into something. And I think it’s really important to understand that you’ve got to roll with the punches, right? Well, especially like, let’s say you have a job you’ve got to foster report to, you’ve got co workers who are going to bug you, things are going to happen.
And so if you start to understand how your schedule works, and keeping track of it, then you can start to roll with the punches a lot better. Instead of being sideswiped, and being irritated about these things that happen maybe you realize hey, you know what, between one and 2pm is when I get just constantly bombarded with like phone calls, emails, people were dropping by my desk and playing around that, obviously, don’t plan your really intense like focus work during that time or do what you can to let people know not to bother you.
If there is a task that has to be done at that time, I think that that’s really good to, to, to communicate to people that you need time or you need space. And if it’s important enough, people generally listen and appreciate that you’re being upfront about this, instead of, you know, blowing up on them or, you know, yelling at them or something crazy like that. So the last thing I will say about this is to review and improve. So that’s where writing a lot of this stuff down comes in. And you don’t spend a lot of time doing this.
But when you do your daily review, plan out your day, and whatever manner you like, again, using the best self journal, an index card, just write it down in the notepad file. So you do that and keep track of it. Save it and then over time, maybe once a week, go back and look, is there something that could be improved? Maybe you’re underestimating how long things take maybe be you realizing that you’re not getting certain tasks done Why is that happening?
What’s working really well for you ask yourself that and how can you get some more results like that so if you spend even 30 minutes a week doing that you’re going to be way ahead and you’re going to start making progress that is going to be really tangible and you’re going to see pretty soon so hopefully that helps I’m going to check real quick for questions cool. Alright. I don’t see anything so I appreciate everyone watching Episode 58 and please join me next week and get if you’re not watching live you can always catch the replays like you are now or you can join us in the group by clicking on the join link below. You got to answer a couple questions to make sure that you want to be there just some stuff about productivity and processes and if that’s the stuff you’re into, you definitely want to be there. So thanks for watching and I’ll talk to you later.
Reading is good for you, right? If you agree with that please keep reading. If you don’t, this is definitely not the article for you!
Reading can increase your creativity, inspire you with new ideas and improve your language and writing skills. I am sure you agree about that, but it is also very common to have a hard time finding the time to read when you lead a busy life.
So, how can we make sure we’re reading and absorbing new information on a regular basis?
Eat The Frog
The lack of reading time is a great example of an issue that can be solved with the Eat the Frog approach. This method consists in facing a challenge or task first thing and face on.
In the case of reading, make that a priority and do it first thing in the morning, including it in your routine. Your mind will be fresher and you will not continue procrastinating it, promising yourself that you will do it later until there is no more time left for the day.
This can be as simple as reading one chapter of your book with your morning coffee – this is literally part of my morning routine.
As with any long-term target, try to break it down into manageable chunks, setting smaller goals for yourself. These will depend on your availability and how much reading you want to get done eventually. For example, you could decide to read for two hours a day, or prefer to set a quantity goal, such as one or two chapters every day.
Create Your Reading Space
Try to create a separate space for your reading.
Leave the desk you use for work and choose a comfortable, relaxing chair, or if the weather allows it, try going outside. Leave your devices – including the phone – at the desk to avoid notifications and distraction, and focus on what you are reading – whether it’s inspiring business advice or new sci-fi.
In the long run, I believe you’ll start seeing how effective this can be and you’ll actually end up reading more often – I’ve found that it’s a snowball effect. Once you start reading more, starting in the morning, you’ll read more than before since your attention is focused on the book or media – instead of reading randomly throughout the week.
If you are thinking of ways to improve your productivity, it is normal to ask yourself what habits are getting in the way. When you have been used to do things in a certain way for many years, it can be hard to realize what is draining your time and might be keeping you from reaching your goals.
In this post, I will talk about the two biggest time wasters and ways in which you can limit their effects on your productivity.
The Biggest Waste Of Time
For as much as we love it, watchingTV is the habit that by far takes up most of our free time that we could spend being productive. This is certainly true for Americans, who spend 4 to 5 hours a day on average watching their favorite shows. The statistics are clear – it’s an excessive amount of time that can be detrimental to your work.
I am not saying to give it up and stop watching TV altogether. I love watching shows: I have my favorite series, documentaries, etc.
If that is what makes you unwind, stopping altogether could even affect your stress levels. It is best to reconsider the time you want to spend on watching TV – is it helping you reach your goals or could you get away with less? Try to cut it in half, and dedicate what is left to the shows that you love and really care about following.
No matter what your age is, social media is likely to be part of your daily life. Scrolling through your feed can take up a lot of your time and attention, even if you don’t realize it consciously.
Taking a step back can really give you some of your most productive time back.
You can go as far as to delete the apps altogether, but there is an easier, just as effective way.
Put your phone down. While you are at your desk or in your workspace, silence the phone and place it screen down. This way, it will be impossible for you to get distracted by the constant notifications, sounds, and screen lights.
You can also take things further and place your phone physically far from you, in another part of the room. This is what I do when I want to focus while sitting at the computer.
By making it harder for you to reach it – you would have to not only look away from your computer and move your arm but get up and cross the room – you will noticeably reduce the times you will check your notifications and increase your attention span.
Because more often than not, we do not only take the 10 or 15 seconds needed to check the new mail or message, but rather a long time while we get distracted on various apps and newsfeeds and suddenly wonder what we were doing in the first place…
These are very simple tricks that take a little self-discipline but will end up giving you a surprising amount of your time back.
Small tasks are insidious. You know what I’m talking about. They are sitting on your daily or weekly list and although they may look like a 5 minutes job, they end up piling up and taking a whole afternoon. They distract you from more important responsibilities and drain your productivity.
That is why I decided to write this short post and help you fix the issue once and for all. Keep reading to find out my simple solution.
Getting Rid Of The Small Tasks
Although it may sound counterintuitive, I suggest you take some time to reflect and review.
Find a quiet moment when you have 30 or 45 minutes to think. Sit down, gather your to-do lists and ask yourself: “What is working fine for me, and what am I not doing well?”. It will help you visualize what is draining your time.
You can create a calendar appointment to make sure that you don’t forget this review and you may need to make it a recurring one in the long run.
Once you have identified the small tasks you find yourself wasting time on over and over again, go through the list with the simple goal of eliminating them – eliminate the unnecessary tasks altogether, automate what you can, and delegate the rest. Again, some of these will be very small but once you take them off your list, you will see how much time you will have saved. This is especially the case with routine, recurring tasks – dedicating one hour just to get rid of tiny jobs may sound odd, but it will pay off hugely.