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 June 21st, 2018 above, or you can review the transcript below.
In this episode we talked about:
- What free software can I use to manage household tasks?
- I have friends but I like spending a lot of time alone. I also really like doing work for my job and will often stay late or work on the weekends rather than spending time with friends. Is there something wrong with me?
- Integromat – new app that I’m starting to check out, does anyone have experience with it?
- What are some good strategies to stop wasting much of my free time on electronic devices?
- How do I be energetic and active throughout the day?
- What is the best thing to do when you have free time?
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Welcome to this episode of the Real World Productivity Q&A. I’m Adam with the Productivity Academy, and we’re going to get started here in just a minute. We’ve got questions covering household tasks, how to feel about spending time working versus not working, strategies to stop wasting time with your electronic devices, looking at energy and activity throughout the day, and working with free time and how to best utilize that, or if you should.
First of all, though, before we dive into it, just wanted to say, if you’re watching this in the group, thanks, and I appreciate you being here. If you have any questions, you can just type it in. I’m literally looking at the screen, and I could see comments as they come in, so if you have any additional questions, you can just type them in there.
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The first question was, “What free software can I use to manage household tasks?”
Good question. I think, like anything, it’s going to take a little bit of trial and error, but I would say definitely want something that’s mobile because you’re probably going to share it, I’m guessing, in a household, and you want something that works for you. The “works for you” part comes in as figuring out, maybe trying a couple, and then something that you can share that’s gotta be free.
Todoist I think would be a great place to start. I use it for a task manager. My assistant uses it for a little bit of project management, although we’re kind of moving away from Todoist for that, but it is free, and it’s really flexible, and you can share, like create shared projects within it, so you can have, I don’t know, cleaning or groceries, things like that where more than one person can see that. That’s pretty handy. You can look at things. You can give them due dates.
For example, let’s say you wanted to have cleaning stuff, chores, and you could even assign it, have dates, and see what’s due or things like that, so if you want to get really involved with it, but if not, it’s also just really easy to have a to-do list there. That would probably be my first one.
Then there’s a ton of other ones. If you … Google Keep, I know a lot of people use. I personally can’t vouch on the mobile nature of it. I’ve just played around with it a little bit. Evernote is another one. All of these I’m mentioning too you could use them for a lot more, but I think that that’s, all of these are perfectly capable of it, and if you’re already using one, it might be good to start there and then see if it’s overkill or not.
In the very simplest, use a pen and paper. Now, I’m laughing just because sometimes it can be good to do that. I find that people, having a whiteboard or a pen and paper helps you literally just go through the process. If you say, “Once a week, I’m going to go through the household tasks, and we have it on a piece of paper or on a whiteboard where everyone can see it,” and that just helps solidify for yourself what’s going on. Then obviously, literally if other people need to see it, sometimes that could be a way to do it instead of, “Oh, I didn’t get a notification,” or something.
Good question. Tons of good apps out there and software you can use, but like I said, I would make sure it’s really, it’s on your device. I know that there’s some apps out there that are iOS-only, so depending on what devices you have, you may want to make sure that it’s usable, but Todoist, which I recommended it first, is cross-platform. It’s available on just about everything. Good question. I like that.
Second question here is, “I have friends, but I like spending a lot of time alone.” I can identify with that. “I also really like doing work for my job and will often stay late or work on the weekends rather than spending time with friends. Is there something wrong with me?”
No, probably not, but really, you’re the person who can answer that. I think instead of just saying whether or not it’s good or bad is you really need to answer that question for yourself. If friends are saying, “Hey, would you come out with us?” and you don’t want to spend time with them, then maybe just ask yourself, it doesn’t mean that you don’t like them, but what’s the reason? Is it more compelling or you feel more compelled to do work? Are you just literally more interested in doing your work and you’re really passionate about it? Maybe something you want to do is look at spending some time … I always hate to use this phrase, but “getting to know yourself.” That sounds pretty bad, but man, just, I mean, what are your goals and the idea of, if it was me 10 years from now, and I look back, would I be happier that I spent more time and spent overtime, worked on these projects and furthered my profession and my skills, or would I have wanted to have spent that time with friends and family, or is there somewhere in between?
There’s literally no right answer. That’s up to you. You may say, “You know what? I am super passionate about this. This is one of my life goals. I want to work more, and people that don’t understand that, that’s okay, but that’s where my priorities are at.”
Then you may say, “Yeah, you know what, maybe it’s a long-term goal, but I am going to have my whole life to work on this. I want to develop these relationships and keep in touch.” Just some pros and cons and something to think. It’s something that changes over your lifetime, so I think it’s good of you to be thinking about this and just say, “Yeah, it seems abnormal maybe to other people,” and then just ask yourself really what’s the motivations. Once you have that, I think that that makes it more clear to yourself. If your reasons for doing things are maybe avoiding other areas, then that’s when you’ve gotta consider, “Hey, I need to change maybe the way I’m doing things.”
Grab some water for this next question. I also want to say today, I didn’t have time to set up a screen share, which you probably heard me talking about Zapier. I’m definitely going to do some more, kind of show putting together some Zaps that can really save people time. I’ve talked about it for content stuff. There’s a lot of organization stuff that’s cool. If you have recurring complex or simple task, you can do stuff like set up multiple Trello cards or a lot of these different programs. You do it once, and it’s really cool. Things like somebody fills out a form. It takes that data, puts it into another program, sets it all up to go. I mean, that’s just two or three steps, but you can get some more complicated stuff if needed. That’s really neat.
I’ve come across another one called, and I’m probably going to butcher the name, but Integromat? I-N-T-E-G-R-O-M-A-T. I’ve just started playing around with that because it looks like it’s got some really interesting features. It’s got database integration, or essentially, it looks like it might be inside the app itself, like ability to store information, and then tons of connections, some stuff that I think Zapier might not even be connected to, or at least using it in ways that it can’t. It looks potentially more powerful, maybe a little bit steeper learning curve. I’m just playing around with that, but if anyone’s out there who’s got experience with it, please leave a comment and let me know what you think about it because I’m going to start diving into that and using it for probably at first just helping get KPIs, key performance indicators for businesses together to put on a dashboard in like Google Data Studios or whatever ends up working out the best. A little insight into some stuff I’m working on.
Back to the questions. The next one is, “What are some good strategies to stop wasting so much of my free time on electronic devices?”
This one’s really simple, I think. Again, I think a lot of things … You owe yourself a little bit of introspection here. Are you saying, are people telling you you’re spending too much time, or are you waking up or going to bed and your eyes are strained and tired and you’re giving yourself headaches? I think just take a look at that. Do you wish that you would’ve spent the time doing something else, like at the end of the day, you’re like, “Man, I spent like two hours on Reddit or Facebook, and I wish I would’ve gone for a walk and read a book, and then spent 30 minutes on social media.” First of all, answer that question for yourself.
Then help yourself. Maybe start a time … I think a lot of times, during the day, it’s actually a little bit easier. You have to be forceful with yourself, but grab your phone and walk over at the futon over here. I’ll throw it over there. It’s now no longer within reach because I find that that’s one of the habits. Even if it’s in our pocket, it’s just so easy to pull it out and, “Oh, I’ll just check the email real quick. I’ll do this, do that.” Out of arm’s reach, leaning reach. Get it out of there.
I think that that’s really simple, but you know what, it’s really effective. If you’re at work or you’ve got a office environment, maybe stick it under the desk or put it, if you got a place to put some clothes or hang stuff up, just get it away.
Then as far as other devices, it just depends how far you want to go. You can lock down devices with Internet usage. Let me find out. I forget what it’s called. “Stop using the Internet on devices for a period of time app.” Okay, I think freedom.to, FocusMe are two I’ve heard of. I think freedom.to … do, do, do. Mac, Windows, and iOS. Yeah, so check that out. I think that’s interesting. Personally, since I do everything online, just about, it’s not really an option for me, although some writing times I think that would be good.
Then the second part of this kind of get some freedom from electronic devices is set times. If you find yourself really doing it in the morning or in the evening or there’s longer periods of time instead of just this sporadic checking is to set a calendar reminder or whatever to-do list, or if you’re time-tracking, or write yourself a note that maybe when you come in the door, you put your phone in a drawer or something. I use phone because that just has to be what it is for most people. If it’s tablet, if it’s computer, you can adapt this as needed, but try not using it for maybe start with an hour when you first get home, or whatever it is. Again, you need to adjust this obviously to yourself.
Just get in the habit, and then you can say, “Yeah, you know what, this is neat, but I don’t really need it,” or, “Hey, wow, this is neat. I noticed a big changed when I don’t have ready-access to this. I like it, and I think I’ll either extend it or I’m just going to keep doing this.” Be patient with yourself. You’re probably going to grab it sometimes or you gotta answer a call or an email. Things happen, but I think that’s a great place to start and could definitely help you. Again, some reflection here is really good after. Try it for a week, and just see, “Hey, do I like this or is it worth it?” If it’s not, change it or drop it.
Cool. Good question, and always good to check that out, see if you can spend your time doing something more productive or something that benefits you. If you just feel better about doing it and it’s your free time, then great.
Speaking of, next question was, “How can I be energetic and active throughout the day?” This is definitely one that I’m … This is like … I think this falls under the lifeline working on this. I think that one of these is starting to answer for yourself, what makes you energetic and active. If you want to just be literal, I would find out, are you better in the morning, are you productive? Work out your rough schedule, and adjust that as much as you can. If you’re in control of your own schedule, then guess what, it’s up to you.
If you’re not so much or you have fixed hours of work, then you need to make that work around you, but there’s obvious things you can do. If you have to get up early in the morning, stop staying up late at night if you need eight hours of sleep. Get up in the morning. Don’t snooze, don’t lay there forever. Get up and take some time for yourself. Be a little active in the morning. Go for a walk or exercise if you need to do that, then if you don’t have time later in the day, more intense, maybe a run or ride a bike. Just do that. That does wonders for most people.
I’m not a doctor. I’m not going to say that this works for everyone, but everyone I’ve known who does that, it’s just a good thing. I try to do it. I’m a runner, but I don’t run in the morning, but I do get up and go for a walk. I find that that’s really helpful. Then I do that again throughout the day. what I do is, around lunchtime, I go for a run about three or four times a week. If I’m not running, I’ll go out and just go for a walk again, and do that.
I also use a standing desk, or like a sit-standing desk. Today, I’m trying out sitting down during this, but usually I’m standing up. I find that helps not so much active, but it definitely keeps me alert, and I feel differently. You can tell it. When you’re sitting down next to someone, you’re more relaxed versus the energy when you’re standing up. It’s not like I’m bouncing off the walls or anything, but it definitely helps.
I think a lot of this can be done by giving yourself then the reminder to do this because it’s one thing to say, “Hey, I’m going to go for a walk,” and then you never go for a walk. Set yourself some reminders. If you’re using an app like Todoist, maybe Google Calendar, just whatever you’re using that can give you a notification. If you want to, use a sticky note and slap it on the computer or wherever you’re working, and then make that work because you do this if you’re at home, if you’re on the road. You can work this stuff in. People go for walks.
Then there’s so much more to this that I’m not even going to dive into. This is scratching the surface, but finding out your own rhythm, how you work best, and then literally staying active a couple times throughout the day will really help this. Then from there, going into things like more fitness and diet, but that’s a really deep subject, and I could probably bring someone in who could speak a lot more to that, but if you want to, finding out how you feel, how you react, what are you eating during the day, is there something better you could be doing, and you can start fine-tuning stuff if you want to. Good question. Simple, but a very big question.
Last question, and I will check back in the group and see if there’s any more questions in a minute. Let’s see. “What is the best thing to do when you have free time?”
Interesting. The best thing to do when you have free time. I would say that that is totally up to you. I thought about this question a little bit ahead of time. I think it’s interesting from several points of view. One is that it’s good I think that you’re thinking about this. That’s kind of the approach I’m going to take here with answering this is the best thing to when you have free time is, you’re on the right path. Just think about it. Do you want to have unstructured free time? To some people, that may sound crazy. You’re like, “What? Of course. It’s free time. I want nothing,” but for other people, they may not like that. That may not appeal to them, so it’s totally up to you.
I think spend a few minutes just thinking about, “Does that sound appealing? Do I just want to have time where there’s nothing going on, nothing planned, anything could happen. Does that sound good, or do I want to have a plan and generally know what I’m going to be doing?” You can have both. It doesn’t need to be one or the other, but just understand how you feel about that. I think that then you can go and start to plan your free time and say, “Maybe instead of just having the day off, I’m going to write down the three things I want to get done, and that’s good enough, and one of them is going to be a fun activity.”
Try these different things, and maybe some of the people, maybe for you, you want to list it out like it’s a normal day, and do time-blocking. You go through every hour, and you may not stick exactly to it, but you write out, “Hey, here’s what I’m going to be doing.” A lot of it is up to you. There’s definitely no best thing to do for everybody. A lot of that’s up to you. Some people like to feel productive on their free time. Other people, it’s, “Hey, grab the couch, make sure it doesn’t fly away, and turn on Netflix.” I think for the vast majority of us, we’re somewhere in between. All of us enjoy doing the things we enjoy, but we also need some downtime and time to let the brain unwind.
I would suggest, then, as a first thing to spend a few minutes and look back over when you do have free time, what is it that has brought you the most benefits and happiness and start to just, maybe even write it down. Just say, “Oh, that time I was playing soccer on my day off, and then doing this, doing that.” See what it was like. Is it more structured or not, and how can you get more of that out of your free time. Good questions today.
That is going to wrap it up. I don’t see any more questions. Again, if you want to ask a question ahead of time, you can go to productivity.academy/questions, and you can join us in the Facebook group and ask questions live if you want as well as get some other content and interact with everyone. If you’re watching this on YouTube, you can check out the link below. If you’re watching on YouTube as well, you can hit subscribe and stay up-to-date. Other than that, I am going to get going, and I will see everybody next week.