Productivity Academy Live Q&A August 2, 2017

 

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Hey everybody. This is Adam with Productivity Academy. It’s 10:00 here, so getting started. Real quick, if you haven’t yet, if you’re watching this on YouTube, you can subscribe by clicking the subscribe button, obviously. If you’re not on YouTube, you can head over there. I’ll put the link in the notes. Why would you subscribe? If you want to get answers to your productivity, time management, productivity app questions, anything like that, you can do that and get reminded of when and where these videos are taking place, as well as some other fun stuff for subscribers.

Today, as you can probably see, we’ve got several questions. I’m going to go through them, about what’s being considered productive for a writer, how to manage your time effectively, what should you be asking yourself every time you organize your tasks, and, of course, the grand question, “What’s the number one productivity tip?” I like that. I think about it too. It’s kind of distilling it down, like, “If you had one piece of advice you could offer somebody, what would it be?” Alright. Let’s get into it. If you’re watching live, feel free to pop a question. Right now it’s on Facebook, so you can just pop the question in. I’m looking over here on the side and I can see that, and I’ll answer it if we have time.

Starting off, “As a writer how can you tell if you’ve had a productive day?” A little bit about myself. I do a lot of writing, although it’s not necessarily what you would consider long form writing. Do a lot of copywriting, do a lot of emailing for the businesses I’m involved in, so writing sales letters or sales copy, but also educational content to accompany videos. A lot of things like that. The number one thing I can tell for if I’ve had a productive day when I need to, or I’m in the writing mode, is pretty simple. It’s that I’ve actually written something. This is what I’ve read, or at least heard from a lot of people, is that really well known, really prolific authors or writers sit down and they just write. It’s not that they say, “I’m going to write the next best novel on Thursday.” It’s that they sat down and they wrote. They had set themselves a goal, kind of like Seinfeld, “Don’t break the chain.” Every day, I write 1,000 words, or whatever it is for that person.

That’s something I’ve actually had to work on, is looking at it and saying, “Okay. It’s one of those tasks where it’s kind of like looking, sometimes literally, at a blank sheet of paper, and you’re just like, ‘Oh my god. I can’t get started’ or ‘I better go make a cup of coffee first.'” A lot of it is just getting started. For me, as a writer, if I have a productive day, I just start writing. Then I get something written. I can look back and see those days where I came up with excuses, like maybe I was being productive, but I’m actually procrastinating and saying, “You know, I need to do some more research on something” or “I need some more examples.” Nope. If you want to be a writer, write. There’s time to learn and gather and research, but when it’s time to write, all you got to do is write. For me, that’s mine. I guarantee you there’s probably more detailed answers to that, but for the writing I do, I think it’s really important just to take that first step.

Good question. Like that. A little bit off the beaten path in terms of productivity, but I think that that’s important. That can be really good for not just somebody who’s a “writer”, but maybe you’re a student or you’re writing a work report or a white paper or something like that.

The next question is, “How do I manage my time effectively?” Good question. I think this one is really interesting. The advice … There’s a lot of ways you can do this. I’m going to focus on one that I think is particularly effective. If you’ve never tried doing this, I highly, highly suggest it. It is incredibly difficult and I’ve actually never completed it, but just attempting it really helps you figure out what you’re doing with your time.

Get a piece of paper or a spreadsheet or whatever it is, something where you can list out your day in maybe half hour increments. Draw a line across or use a spreadsheet and write down what you’re doing for those half an hours. It’s a little distracting and it’s very tough to actually do this, but write down what you’re doing and try doing this for at least a few days, if not a week. Then go back and look over it. Set some time ahead of time, set yourself a reminder, and go look at it and be fairly critical in a good way of like, “Hey, what was I actually doing? What did I plan on doing?”, if you did, and then, “What do I actually want to be doing, or what do I want to be spending my time on?” Now you’re going to have that cold hard reality check of, “Wow. This is what I thought I was doing, or this is what I really want to be doing, but on the other hand, this is what I’m actually doing.”

Look at that. See how you can make some changes. Am I spending way too much time on social media? Great. There’s obvious solutions that I won’t go into, like putting down your phone or just trying to pull back from that. Maybe you’re checking your email too much. Maybe you’re distracted and you’re not finding effective blocks of time to work in. Again, there’s a ton of things that this could be, but that’s the first step.

The next one is to sit down and actually plan your day out. Start doing that. You could do the same thing where you maybe block it out in 30 minutes or half an hour, whatever you want to do to start. Go through there and project for your day. When you sit down in the morning, let’s say like I do it at 7:00 in the morning, you say, “Okay. 7:00, I’m going to fill out my daily time block schedule. Alright. Did that. After that, I’ve got these three tasks I needed to get done. First one’s going to take me an hour. Write that in. Blah blah blah.”

You get the idea. Fill it out as best you can for the day and include things like lunch, include things like exercise and, “Hey, I’m taking a break at 3:30 to get coffee.” That’s fine. It’s not that you’re going to be working the whole time. It’s that you’re getting a lot better at projecting forward, “What is it I want to do, and how long is it going to take me?” As you get going on that, you’ll become a lot more effective at using your time. Found that to be super effective. There’s a lot more you can do from there, but again, I highly suggest trying to track your time if you haven’t done it yet. It’s really, really hard in kind of a fun way. It blew my mind how difficult it was.

The next question is, “What are some crucial questions …” Excuse me. “What are some crucial questions I should ask myself every time I organize my tasks?” I’ll stick to one for this. I think the most crucial question you should ask yourself is, “Is this important, or is it urgent?” Then you can prioritize based on that. If it’s important, that means it’s something that matters. It’s going to have a long term impact. It needs to be done in order to move a project along. It is not an urgent “there’s a fire I need to put out”, is the common term. It depends where you’re at.

If you’re at a job, this may be more difficult that you try to get away from putting out fires, but if you can make other people see the reasoning behind that and that, “Hey, I’m working on something with really long term gains. It’s going to have a big impact. Instead of having me stop what I’m doing, shift my focus, spend 30 minutes doing that, come back, try to get refocused, and get going again, and all that wasted time and mental energy that’s in there …” You can either explain that to people, which I’m not going to cover here, there’s entire books written on that, but that you want to really be thinking, “Is this important, or is it urgent?” If you can, you go through there and say, “Okay, great. Important tasks, they’re going to stay. Urgent tasks, I’m going to try to either delegate or to maybe push to a time block later.” Maybe you keep some time towards the end of your day where you can respond to these things or get them taken care of in some fashion.

Last question for today, “What is your number one productivity tip, the number one, the ultimate productivity tip?” Right now for me, it is just to sit down and in the morning, whatever that means to you, 5:00 am, 7:00 am, 9:00 am, give yourself at least 30 minutes and do the following. Collect your notes, whether you’re using something like Evernote or Todoist or you use a notebook, like The Best Self Journal, or whatever else you have. Get all of that stuff together. If you have any loose notes, there’s that random to do that has no label and it’s no project, or you’ve got the sticky note sitting on the desk and you need to put that somewhere like your Evernote, sit down, take the time to do that.

Collect everything, assign it to whatever system you have, and then go through and schedule your day out, including looking at your calendar. “What do I have coming up today, and maybe even tomorrow?” Some people go like a week out. I personally don’t do that. Look through there so there’s no surprises. You can look at your day too and say, “Oh wow. I had so much stuff scheduled. There’s no way I can get this done. Okay, great. I need to prioritize what’s important, what’s urgent. I need to keep the important tasks, maybe drop the urgent ones or delegate them, and see what else I can do in that matter.” That way, you go into your day knowing what’s happening. The day is not happening to you. You’re helping shape the day. You become much more effective and much, much more productive.

The other side of this is that work expands to fill the time allotted to it. It’s not that you can make something happen in five minutes that takes an hour, but if you’re just saying, “Well, I’m just going to do what I have to today”, all that time’s going to get filled up. I guarantee it. I think that sitting down and spending 15, 30 minutes on planning out your day, looking at your schedule, getting tasks and projects sorted out is well worth that 30 minutes and is going to make you much more productive.

Alright. Thanks everybody for watching. Didn’t have any questions live, but if you ever do, you can watch them … Sorry. If you’re watching on Facebook, you can ask them. You can go to productivity.academy/questions anytime during the week and ask your questions, and then it will pop into a spreadsheet that I check and answer from on here. Thanks again for watching. We’ll see you next week.

 

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