Join us live each week at www.productivity.academy/live and get your questions answered by submitting them at anytime right here: www.productivity.academy/questions. You can watch the video for the past episode recorded on December 20th, 2017 above, or you can review the transcript below.
To find recommended tools and other great resources, check out the Productivity Academy Resource Toolkit: https://productivity.academy/resources
Hey. This is Adam with Productivity Academy. Thank you everybody in the Real World Productivity Growth Group. Today, I’ve got some really good questions. We’re gonna be talking about three of the best habits, that really productive people have. Some of the best apps you can use. And then, what books are good for increasing your productivity, things like that. Before we get into that, I was gonna say, if you haven’t yet subscribed to the YouTube channel, be sure you do that. You can just go over to YouTube, type in productivity academy, or I’ll pop a link on here as well. And then, also be sure to check out the guide book.
I’ve taken a lot of what I’ve talked about and condensed it down into something really, not so much short, although it is about 25 pages I think is what it ended up being. Taking a lot of that information and really compressing it, because I found that I don’t necessarily need a full book, something with hundreds of pages, to describe how you can really set yourself up for a solid foundation. I think the continuation of that and maybe some of the specifics, like if you went in and said, “Okay, I need to take my entire business and develop the processes and all that.” That can be a huge topic, but personally, to get yourself started with a daily review, and the really important aspects of that, condensed that down into the guidebook and something that’s literally the cost of a cup of coffee.
My hope is that people will grab that, get themselves started, and then that puts them on, kind of an even playing ground, so that they have the base foundation to go on and try to tackle some of these bigger things, or take on some of these really cool productivity tools, but if you don’t have the right stuff in place already, then it’s not gonna work as well for you.
All right, let’s get into it. The very first question today is, what are, if I had my questions in order, what are three habits that highly productive people have on a daily basis. Okay, I think there’s … I had to narrow this down to three. I think that’s good. I think having these narrow focus on what it is that you wanna focus on, and things that I’ve seen from asking other people, who I consider to be highly productive, and people who are organized, as well as things I’ve incorporated into myself.
These would boil down to the following. One, having a daily review, or planning session. Okay? There’s a lot of different ways you can do this. You can do this in the morning, as a planning session. You can do this in the evening, as a review session. You can do both. You can break it apart. Having that discipline, as well as the habit to do this, will open up a lot of opportunities for yourself.
One, you’re gonna get better about using your time, because you’re consciously working at identifying how you’re spending your time. All right? It’s doing the ordinary, but doing it extraordinarily well, because everybody knows, well, I’m planning my day, or, sure I’ve got these on my to-to list, but the time you spend, just the five, 10, 15 minutes, you spend planning that out, over time, you’re gonna get much better at using your time, and then seeing, “Hey, what else can I do? Can I batch tasks? Can I prioritize better? Can I work on specific projects for one day and then move on another day?” There’s a lot of things you can do. People who don’t take the time to look at this, are never going to get as much out of this.
Additionally, if you can incorporate a review, in the sense of past tense … You could say, “I’m planning my day, but then I’m looking at yesterday. What worked well? What didn’t? What could I improve on?” Being honest with yourself is just incredibly powerful. All right, the second habit would be delegating, or deleting. Okay? This just means going through your tasks and saying, “Hey. What do I got here? Okay, I’ve got these five things. I’ve only got time for three of them. Is there something I can delegate? Do I have an employee? Can I hand this off to a family member? Can I put it off to another day?” Okay, we tried not to do that, that’s kind of the last choice, but maybe it makes sense.
Maybe you’ve got a time block, that you got for this other project. Put it there. Don’t do it today. And then delete. You know what? Is it that important? Is someone trying to get in touch with me? Do I have to respond? Okay, is it not that important? Is this task, just a task that I made, because it came to mind? Great. Take a solid look at it. Is it important? Is it something that just needs to be done, or is it urgent, cause it just happened. Maybe I can file that in my notes for stuff to look at once a month. And then, if it’s important, I’ll definitely know that, okay, I’ll actually get to that.
And then, the third one would be guarding your time. Being strict with yourself about your own time. This doesn’t mean you have to be mean about it with other people, but start with yourself. When you say you’re giving yourself 30 minutes to do a task, stick to it. Okay? Be on time. Don’t be late to meetings. Then, turn that around. You should expect that from other people.
Why I said, take care of yourself first, because other people are not gonna respect your time, if you don’t respect your own time. When you have a meeting, you do your hardest to keep it to the time that you allot it, okay? If, you’re using someone else’s time … If you said, “Hey. I need 10 minutes of your time,” then stick to it. Don’t stay there for 20 minutes and take up more of their time. I think that, that will definitely help you in all the other areas. It can be a tough one.
Again, taking care of your own time first, will help you deal with other people, trying to use your time. If they see how well you manage your own time, then I guarantee you, that, that’s gonna follow over into how they treat you. Think those are three great habits that highly productive people have on a daily basis, and it’s something that we can all work on and incorporate into our own lives.
Okay. Question number two. What are some of the best personal productivity apps that people use? Okay, there’s definitely a lot of apps that could be used. I get ’em. This is personal preference. There are some that are based on really, highly acclaimed and well used apps. You can go, for example onto the app stores for Android, and IOS, and see, which of these apps have huge install user bases. Okay? That doesn’t mean it’s gonna be perfect for you, it just means that at least there’s a large user base. There’s probably development going on. It’s been used for a while. You can see how long they’ve been around. Okay?
For myself, it’s Todoist. It is one of the best, I’ve found, to-do lists. I use it with my assistant as well. I think it’s really handy. It’s very easy to track. It’s on all the platforms. It’s just easy, is the word I like to use. Focuster is another one that’s newer. I’m a big fan of it. I love that it ties into the calendar automatically. For example, you have your to-do list in Focuster. You tie in your Google calendar, and it automatically slots in your tasks that you assign, based on how much time you give them, into your calendar, so that’s really handy.
If you’re going all digital, I highly suggest that you do that. My self I’m sticking, right now with the Best Self journal. Pop that up. I’m writing our my day, and doing some time blocking that way. Focuster, I still do use it, and for anyone who wants to be digital, with their to-do list, and integrating and looking at their time, and their day, I highly suggest using that.
And then lastly, Evernote, okay? I think Evernote is amazing. I don’t use it in the GTD method. I use it as a template area, for meetings and webinars. And then, also as kind of a brain dump for, okay do I have something on my mind, I’ll type it out in Evernote, give it a tag and a title, or if I see something, I’ll take a picture of it, and same thing, give it a tag and a title. And then, that’s part of my daily review process. Just like these other apps.
It’s pointless, if you just have Evernote and you’re just filling it with stuff and you never do anything with it. You need to incorporate it into your daily review, weekly review, however you do it, so that you can say, “Okay, what’s the actual process for this? If I put something into Evernote, then what?” You know, do you daily do through it? Do you file it? Do you have folders, and when do you do that? How does it happen?
Laying that stuff out is something you can build as you go, but definitely, you just start with a plan, and then you adapt from there. What you don’t want to have happen is, just to have these tools, and then no plan for how you implement them. That’s the problem. They’re just tools. A lot of them can help you. If you don’t have that basis of how to use them, or a process behind it, then they can become a problem.
Okay, last question is, Which self improvement books do you recommend for time management and productivity in life? Okay, there’s a lot of really good ones, and it’s definitely subjective. It depends on the author of course and how you feel. I have my personal favorites. I’d love to share these. Deep Work, by Cal Newport, is a great book. Actually, I’m trying to get him onto the podcast for Productivity Academy, to talk about this, because he’s in the academic world, and talks about how he has set it up in his life, to use these big time blocks, and to really dive deep into topics, and to be able to work without distractions.
I think is a really good idea. I think it’s a lot harder for people outside of that world to get multiple hour time blocks, but it’s still possible. And then, how anyone else can use this. I think it’s a good reminder that you need to really dive into your projects, cut down the distractions. I mean it sounds simple, but how do you spend three hours on one project? When’s the last time you actually spent three hours, without distractions, working on one thing? For most of us, it’s probably been a really, really long time, or never. You know, maybe it was back in school writing a paper or something. Incredibly good book. Well written, and interesting to read. It will give anyone some ideas, I think, on how they can approach their use of time.
Second book is by a friend of mine. I am going to pop a link in here. I’m just making myself a quick note here, but it’s by Kathryn Jones. It’s available on Kindle and it’s called, Automate Your Routines Guarantee Your Results. Okay, this is really cool. I know she wrote this when I saw her last year. And then, I actually just read it now, about a month ago. It was really good. Okay? It’s written very well. It’s very easy to read. It’s about the title, right? Automating your routines to create results.
She goes into great detail and provides some help about how to do that and stuff, what may seem as simple as, “Hey, I wanna have a really healthy morning. How do I do that? How do I feel better? How do I make myself eat a healthy breakfast, instead of swinging by Mcdonalds on the way to work?” Gong through and saying, “Here’s the literal steps you can do to get control of that, and then to make it easy for yourself.” If not just good, and fun, that you no longer have to worry about it. Really powerful. Suggest it. Quick read. You can implement something from that, like, the day you start reading that.
And lastly, for my recommendations, I would say, Work The System, by Sam Carpenter. I believe there was an update in 2017 and it’s a fantastic book on processes. What I would say is, anybody can use this, especially online entrepreneurs … I think this is really important that we understand that, although you’re at the computer, you can direct people. You can be on Skype, and Slack and Hangouts, and this and that. You still need to have processes for your business, for your life. How you can control these and get a lot more out of it.
It does tell a personal story, as well, of how he came across his systems, and then goes into, here’s how you can implement these and gives examples of ’em. And just for example, it’s how you can make a business run better, which is nice. Okay? That makes you make more money, which is great. Also, how that results in a better business. How customers like it more, how you can retain your employees for longer, because they’re happy, because they know what’s going on. They know what systems work, they know what they’re supposed to do and how they’re supposed to do it, instead of kind of flying by night.
You being in control and having to manage and do all that, that setting up these processes and how you do it is very important and can really be liberating and literally make your life better and other people’s life better. Highly recommend that read. A lot of good information. And then from that book, I think you can go into more specifics and process stuff if you’re into it, getting into project management, and how that all works.
Hopefully that was helpful. Those are some really good question. The apps one is always interesting. I mean, I love talking about apps, but it is definitely a personal preference. I suggest trying apps, but I think it’s good. You can look and try some new ones. I know I said look at the ones that have a big install base. I think that’s just to be safe, to make sure if you’re starting and you wanna try something, that, that’s good one, has it been around for a while? When was it last updated?
You know, if you want, devote yourself some time to try new apps. It’s what I do. I like sharing the information with ’em. I’ll try some new email app. You know, it’s gotta be better than the last. I don’t just try it and then make it part of my systems. I’ll give an app a week or two, and test it out, and see if it works. A little bit of that each month goes a long way. That’s how I find new systems, or bring new things in for our teams. All right. I’ll catch you next week.