Productivity Academy Live Q&A Nov 29th, 2017


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Hey everybody, welcome to the weekly Q and A with myself, Adam, and The Productivity Academy. Doing a little bit of a new process here, so bear with me and we’ll get going in just a second.

Real quick, I wanted to let you know this week we’re going to cover dealing with all those little tasks. You know, when it feels like you’ve just got a ton of little things that are constantly popping up, or just bugging you, and messing with your productivity, and your process. Going to go into that. Ways you could be just in general somebody had a question about being more productive and self-motivated. And then as well, why our meetings seem to be such a productivity suck. So, we’ll take that and go with that.

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All right. So, let’s get into it. I thought this was a really good question. I think this comes up for most people in many different forms. And what I’m talking about there is having a lot of these little tasks. And it happens to myself, it happens to everybody. Sometimes you’re just kind of feeling overwhelmed by these tons of little tasks. So, if you don’t have a process to deal with this then that’s where the problem lies. That’s the root problem.

But what is that process? For me, I would say that the first level of this is that you set a time to gather all of this together. And you do it as much as needed in the sense that if you can do it once a day, that’s great. I do this as part of my daily routine of review and planning for the day. What I mean by this is literally like Post-It notes, grabbing those. Anything I’ve written down. Do I have a three by five index card over here? Is there something on my phone that I had up? Do I have my journal that I need to grab something from?

The point is all of those things and whatever you might have as well that might be different, you set a time and bring all of that together and have a system for where do you put that. For me, right now it goes into To Do List. And then from there I can, “Okay, an email needs to go out to somebody. I need to do this, I need to do that. Put something in my calendar.” But it goes into To Do List with an action item. It doesn’t just say, “Maybe you should read this book.” I’d say, “Hey, there’s a book that somebody recommended. Look at it and then decide whether to put it in your To Read Later list. Or buy it and set a time to read it.” So, specific and actionable. I think that’s really important on the actual task side.

Then the next step of this is batching. Let’s say you’re really in the moment, you’re dealing with stuff you have to do today. So, you’ve gathered it all it. Then what you want to do is batch it. So, gather things and say, “Okay, this is things that I need to do on the computer,” maybe is one. Again, you’re going to have to discover what works for you. Maybe I’ve got some emails to send, I need to order a couple of things from Amazon, I need to check on my husband or wife’s flight coming in. Those are three things I know I need to be at the computer. I’ll do those together. Then maybe some work stuff. I’ve got to do this and that, personal stuff. I need to run laundry and do this. Okay, you get the idea. Batch that stuff together.

Now you’ve got things that make sense and are grouped together, and then prioritize those. What’s more important? Maybe to do laundry is your top priority. But maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s dealing with the work stuff upfront. And then saying, “I’ll put it in afternoon. I’ve got time, I can do the laundry.” All right that’s the general idea.

Now as you go through this, that’s the real basis right there. But you look at and can you delegate any of this? Do you have a business partner? Do you have a VA? Do you have a child you can have do the laundry or start teaching them? Can you ask someone for help with this. A lot of times we ignore that and we just try to take on more and more and more. So, whether you have an employee, you’re an employee, you have business partners. You can ask people for help.

Once you’ve done that, get after it. That’s the way you get these things done. You’ve batched, you’ve gotten the stuff together, you’ve prioritized and get to it. Attack it, get it out of the way.

And then iterate. Iterate this process because this is kind of like a framework like I just described. But it’s going to depend exactly on what you need. You’re going to have something in there that’s unique that you need.

From that point, you just go through it. Maybe set a reminder that once a week you think back. Take 10 minutes and say, “How did this go where I gathered my tasks? Was I forgetting something? Was there a note pad in the kitchen that I’ve been scribbling stuff down on and I generally forget that in the morning? How can I make that work? Can I do my morning review in the kitchen? Or do I just need to remember, “Hey, I need to go down there and grab that and make that a part of it?”” Over time, you can really build some bullet proof processes this way.

Cool. All right. So, next is a question about productivity and motivation. “How can I become more productive and self-motivated?” Obviously, this is a really big question. This could cover a lot so what I will say as far as this question is I think I want to start small with this and say that you create systems. And the reason behind that is you’re creating these systems to help you become more productive.

And by systems, I mean systems and processes. Things like automating or writing down a list of how you do something. And then that also helped you take something that’s like, “Oh, I’ve got a goal that I want to reach. That’s great. But how do you get there?” And instead of saying, “Darn, I meant to do more this week.” What do you want to do this week? And then break that down into actions. Like, “Oh, I actually meant I wanted to finish out the day having responded to all emails and done whatever else.

Then you can set these actions that are like, “Okay, it’s like a milestone. What do I need to do in order to make that happen?” And start breaking that down into actionable items so that you can there get there. And I guarantee you, one, this will make you more productive. And then, two, you’ll be more self-motivated because no longer is it this lofty goal of, “Ah, I’ve got this idea that I want to accomplish, but it’s just that looming sense of I don’t even know how to do it. It’s so big I’m just going to put it off.” That’s a problem.

So, you create these actions that you’re saying, “Okay, this is what I do.” Start knocking them off and that just builds your motivation as you go. Think of as momentum in the physics sense. You start moving and you just do one little task, “I responded to one email. Hey, that’s good. I got something done. Let’s do it again.” That’s something that I think is really good.

And if you want to do this a little bit better, I highly recommend that you do a daily review. You sit down and if it’s not something you’re already doing I think people can be organized already and be productive. But setting that time each day to say, “Okay, I’m going to sit down. I’m going to go over my day. I’m going to gather all of my information together. I’m going to get organized and then look out through my day. Do kind of a time scheduling and go.”

I think that will help you too as well as just being in general more productive but also being more self-motivated. You’re being proactive is what you are and saying, “This is what I’m going to do with my time. These are the tasks I need to do. Let’s go.”

All right. So, cool question. There are entire books written about that topic but that’s my take on getting started.

All right. And lastly today, the question is why do meetings wreck productivity? That’s a great question. I have my own take on it. Again, there’s whole books written on meetings, which I think can be helpful. Like most things, I think it comes down to a few ideas. And the things that I’ve seen in my life both as an employee and as the boss, I’ve seen these three things that came to mind. I’m looking at my little notes I wrote down when I saw this question.

There’s no clear goal for a lot of meetings. There’s too many people involved. And there’s no deadlines. So, those are the three that I’ll stick with for now.

No clear goal to me is the killer. And you can solve this yourself even if you’re not leading the meeting because maybe you have something you want to talk about. You have your agenda. And you can start, if you’re a speaker and saying, “Hey, here’s what I want out of the next three minutes.” Or, “Before I get started, here’s what I really need to have happen based on this.” And then launch into it. And make sure you follow up and say, “Hey, thanks for the discussion but we didn’t come to an actionable solution on this thing that I brought up.”

And if you are in charge, it’s up to you if you’re running the meeting to do this. Again, a lot of times it’s good upfront. State what is the goal? What are you meeting for? I’ve been to so many meetings where you’re not even aware exactly of what is supposed to come out of it. And that’s a killer. It’s a waste of time. So don’t do that.

Too many people. This one can be tough but it grows exponentially. It gets so much harder to have a meeting with five people then with two or three. Two person meeting, one on one. That’s easy. You can do three. It starts growing. Sometimes you need to have more people there. But it just gets more and more difficult.

So, in general if you can keep it to the absolute minimum required people. And that includes yourself. Maybe you’re not needed. If your not then bring that up. Say, “Hey, look, I don’t need to be here. Can somebody send me the notes? Are we writing the notes? If not, why not?” Something like that. And just saying, “Hey, I’m going to be more productive if I just get some action items out of this.”

And then lastly, no deadlines. During a meeting this is part of that, “Here’s my goal for what I want this meeting to be or what I want my section to be.” And then you need it to be deadlined. You can do this literally for the meeting itself. Like this meeting in 30 minutes and it ends in 30 minutes. Or, “Everything we do in this meeting needs to have an actionable deadline.” That might just be, “Hey, I went through this. Our goal is to review these three options. They need to be reviewed and summarized and sent out to the team in 48 hours. Okay?” And that’s great. Everyone’s aware of exactly what’s going on. Whoever’s doing the work has some sort of actionable step and there’s a clear deadline to that.

Again, that works for multiple reasons but I’ll just leave it and say that I think that those are the three. And if you’re in charge of meetings, keep these in mind. These are productivity killers not only for yourself but everyone else who’s in the meeting. And you can really help yourself and your team by trying to keep to these.

So, again, no clear goal; too many people; and no deadlines. So let’s go for clear goals at the beginning and the end. Keep it to the minimum number of people. And involve deadlines. And try to keep your meetings on time. I understand everything goes over from time to time but, man, if you can end the meeting or just keep it to time, that really does a lot for not only productivity but everyone’s time management and I found, obviously, just general happiness with people.

All right. So I think that’s it for today. If you have any questions be sure to just leave a comment or join the Real World Productivity Growth Facebook group. You can pop stuff in there and talk to other people about improving your productivity, your processes, your time management and anything else dealing with that.

Thanks for watching and I’ll talk to you next week.

About the author

Adam Moody

I'm Adam Moody with the Productivity Academy. Get your productivity, time management, automation, and organization questions answered here. Be sure to check out the Productivity Academy YouTube Channel.

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