Productivity Academy Live Q&A – Episode 82

Join us live each week at www.productivity.academy/live and get your questions answered by submitting them at any time right here: www.productivity.academy/questions.

You can watch the video for the past episode recorded on May 9th, 2019, above, or you can review the transcript below.

In this episode we talked about:

  • How to focus and resolve the underlying issues
  • How can I be productive throughout the day?

To find recommended tools and other great resources, check out the Productivity Academy Resource Toolkit: https://productivity.academy/resources

All right, everybody, we are live. This is Episode 82 of the productivity Academy weekly Q and A. Got some good stuff. We’re going to be going over today, talking about how to focus among a couple other of topics, as well if we have time and then of course, anyone who’s watching live feel free to ask questions. Again, I can’t guarantee I’ll get to them but as time allows, will definitely go through that.

So first of all, if you’re watching live, thanks for checking it out. Secondly, if you’re watching the replay, whether it’s on Facebook or YouTube or on the website, you can always join the real world productivity group and you can find the link down below.

To hop into that you do have to answer a couple questions want to make sure you’re actually interested in productivity time management, team building, all that sort of good stuff. If you check them out on YouTube, you can also click subscribe stay up to date with these weekly Q and A’s as well as other videos have put out whether it’s app reviews, other reviews like books, and updates and how to things like that. So if that’s up your alley, go ahead and do that. Alright, let’s get into it.

Today, like I said, I wanted to talk about how to focus. I think this is a one, it’s a hugely important topic. And to it was something that a couple of people have been talking about in the world productivity Facebook group. And it’s something that comes up in questions as well. It wasn’t just that, but there was a good conversation about that. So I wanted to touch base on that. So let me move some things around here and we will get started on this. All right.

Go over here. This is the fun part where you get to watch me figure out how to do this. Okay. So as far as how to focus on you know, there’s a lot of different methods and what I will say as a disclaimer for this is that it’s what works for you. But what I’ve got are what I believe to be some guidelines that are generally true for most people. And you need to take what I say and make sure that it works for you. And that’s one of the last things that I’m going to talk about.

So keep this in mind is that, you know, do one of these things, learn from what I’m telling you, but then understand that you have to iterate it and make it work for yourself. And if you’re not looking back and looking at your own results, then you’re missing a big part of this. Okay, so first of all, what are you know, some of the symptoms of you know, if you if you’re not able to focus, you know, you’re wondering where to start, maybe, you know, you feel like I’m spending all my time just looking at all this stuff around me. You know, my task list is like 100 things long.

I don’t know what I should be doing. Okay. That’s definitely one of the symptoms of loss of focus. Another one is, you know, having to look at each thing and saying it’s got to be 100% done, or it’s got to be perfect or I can’t do it at all. Okay?

That’s going to totally distract you and not help you but make you eventually lose your focus. The third major one is going to be no time to plan. Okay, I hear this a lot people say, you know, well, this is neat. You know, you’ve got productivity strategies, you’ve got tactics, you got these methods, but I don’t have the time to do any of that. Okay, so if you find yourself saying any of these things, just know you’re in good company. These are frequently heard issues with focus, as well as productivity in general, and you’re certainly not alone.

But while those are the symptoms, what I want to talk about are the underlying issues underlying each of those and then what you could do to get around or overcome those obstacles and those issues. Okay, so in the first one, we said, you’re wondering where to start, okay. And this one to me has a somewhat simple although you know, the devils always in the details.

Solution to this. You know, if you’re wondering where to start, then to me that says that you’re not truly prioritizing and this is something you probably need to put some more time into. And we’re going to come around to the third one being not enough time, so stick with me. But if you’re not correctly prioritizing, and this is part of my daily review, it’s what I talk about in the foundation.

That’s what we talked about in the 14 Day Challenge. You know, this is a big part of it, you get in your sticky notes, you go into your to do list your Evernote, your best self journal, your pen and paper, whatever it is, but you get all those things in one place. And then you have to spend the time prioritizing and it could just be the worst spending maybe too much time on collecting everything and then we just get started.

And you need to build that habit of saying Okay, I’ve got everything that’s great, but now I need to prioritize and put that into my calendar and say, Hey, I can only actually do these four things are these truly the four most important things I need to do because I have 20 things on my list and I know that I can’t get them all done. So what needs to actually happen. And then, like I mentioned earlier part of this process is just doing it because you’re going to get better over time.

Some of these are tough, I’m not going to lie, you know, you have 20 things and you can only do four, you may not know right away, what is the most urgent or important, right? You don’t necessarily want to do the urgent you want to do the things that move the needle, whether that’s, you know, being helpful to your friends and family, whether it’s a business project, whatever that is.

So that’s something you kind of need to define, but you’ll never get better at it. If you don’t go back and say, okay, in the last week, what I did was, you know, x y&z I laid out, you know, I took 10 or 15 minutes to prioritize, did that actually work for me? And if it didn’t, why not? And if it did, okay, great. Well, let’s keep doing it and how can I make it better?

Alright, so hopefully that makes sense.

Now, secondly, we were talking about you know, having to be a hundred percent complete. And you know, kind of the idea that you know, things have to be perfectly done, or you know, they’re not going to be done at all. And for this, you know, the world is kind of an 80-20 right the credo rule, the results will speak for themselves, almost nothing can be done 100% and a lot of projects, tasks, whatever it is, you know, you’re going to see much more diminishing results if you continually try to push for 100% and don’t take this as you know, don’t do a good job, don’t complete a project. It’s nothing like that.

But a lot of times we need to move the ball 80% of the way there and then we can hand it off. Maybe there’s something we can shortcut to get the rest of the way. Delegate it, whatever it is, but also it’s realizing that people are waiting or want your results Okay, and this is really important in the business sense as well as a personal if I had waited for perfect, I never would have started recording or putting out these live streams, I never would have created a Facebook group.

All right. And I didn’t know exactly how to do it, and I still do it. You know, we have technical issues. Sometimes things get cut short. And if I waited for it to be perfect, though, I wouldn’t be able to help anyone and I wouldn’t ever get any feedback. And so it’s that that line between, okay, I just need to be comfortable, put myself out there and get some feedback and realize, okay, I’m going to do the best that I can. And over time, I’m going to continually to get continue to get better and better.

And, you know, whatever that is, maybe it’s writing an article, it could be putting together a book, if you’ve never done any of these things. It can be a little scary, like building a website, but you learn by doing either that or you go out and get an expert to do it for you right there. There’s all these options, but you either way, you have to take that first step. So I would just say that, you know, understand the 8020 rule applies in a lot of areas and that we’re aiming high, but you can’t wait until you’re 100% done right?

People wanted to join the my facebook group, people will ask questions and I answered them here. And if I waited until I had the exact perfect setup, and I had the structure All right, then I wouldn’t, you know, be able to do that. Well, or I wouldn’t have been able to do it for the last two years, and I’d be waiting until some definable point in the future.

Let me see.

Ah, Melissa says hello. So, yes, Melissa, you are here. Hey, how’s it going?

I’m going to hop back over. We’ve got this up on our side screen so they don’t stare at myself like talking. It gets very weird to watch out while I’m trying to trying to talk.

Okay, so let’s see the underlying issues for no time to plan.

This one’s an interesting one. If you think that you have no time to do something, then and this is from personal experience as well as other people and observing people around me. Then generally you don’t believe that it’s actually going to work. Otherwise you do it. Right. So if I thought, you know, I don’t have any time to work out, well, it’s because I don’t really believe in the results. Because I, you know, I could say, well, working out is healthy, and I’d like to look better. And this that the other thing, but I don’t believe that either I can get those results, or what I’m going to do isn’t truly like the best path forward for me to do that.

And one of those is it’s a kind of a dangerous loop to get into, and we’re going to go into how you can get around that one. Because it’s not just that, you know, you think that, you know, there’s a problem and it won’t work. And that’s the end of the story. It certainly isn’t. But a lot of times if we said, you know, hey, I’ve got this problem and somebody comes up and says, Well, hey, just do these three things. And you know, it’s going to work.

And we would say, Okay, well, let’s just go do it. Right. I mean, if we’re guaranteed the result, then why wouldn’t wait, but a lot of times, we’ve never seen the results we want so you know we shy away from it. Maybe we’ve tried planners and the terms of productivity. We’ve tried journals, we tried different methods.

And for us, it didn’t give us the results we want or we weren’t even clear maybe on what results we expected. We just were told, like, Oh, it’s going to make you more productive, which isn’t really a thing. So that can be a problem in and of itself. Okay, so just to recap, we’ve talked about three underlying issues for focus.

Okay, not prioritizing, expecting perfection or 100% completion. The world is at 20, right, you’ve got to get started and get some sort of action, while also planning and trying to put out good results out there and then iterating over time and becoming better. And then last but not least, it with no time to plan your it’s kind of telling yourself you don’t really believe in the process, because otherwise you would do it because you think it’s going to get you the results that you want.

Let’s see. Alright, grab some water real quick.

Yeah.

All right, solutions. Okay, I think that this is also really important for going over because we’ve talked about the symptoms, we talked about the underlying issues and the hopefully you can identify with, with some of these I know I can literally, personally identify with these. But one of the most obvious solutions to me and not to minimize the the effort that goes into this, but it’s to prioritize.

And that’s why I do this. First thing in my day when I’m doing my planning is we talked about, you know, collecting all of our stuff in order to to use all of that wherever it’s coming from. And one of the things you need to do is prioritize and batch tasks. But let’s just talk about prioritizing, because this is something that, you know, maybe it’s not being given the appropriate amount of time, it can take a long time to be like, oh, what’s truly important today.

You know, me personally, I also have a lot of tasks. You know, I’ve got people pinging me on slack occasionally get some phone calls, got emails got these other things coming in. And I just need to ask myself what’s truly important, you know, is an email is someone else dictating my time important? And the answer is no, it’s not. Not saying that the information in that email isn’t important, but I have to go through and say, okay, when my goals and what the result I want, what is the most important, and you know, that’s something you have to do for yourself. And then again, over time, you get better and better about realizing what it is that you need to do.

So that is as far as not prioritizing it. I know that it sounds overly simple, but it’s one of those where you just sit down and you you get used to this practice of prioritizing and you make it part of your daily review.

All right. So as far as expecting perfection or nothing. Just looking at my notes here. I had some thoughts about this yesterday. I think it’s important and I find that a lot of times with expecting perfection or waiting until you have 100% completion is that you’re not really realizing that you know someone, even yourself and needs what you can do. So I use the example of me setting up this Facebook group, I’m not some sort of, you know, social media wizard, I certainly didn’t know 100% of what I was doing, I did the best, I could have found some good examples, and I did it.

And then over time iterating on that and saying, Oh, well, I could stream a video into here. But wouldn’t that be nice? or asking people questions? What’s going on? What’s your problems? You know, how have you solve these issues, and realizing that, oh, people are responding, and it is nice that, you know, I’m able to help them. Whereas if I have waited, that this actually wouldn’t be happening.

You know, until you get that out there. Again, this could be a Facebook group, it could be writing an article, it could be a project, work, it could be a relationship. But until that point that you take action, you are your own worst enemy and critic and that’s the voice you’re hearing.

So once you start taking action and you get something out there, you start getting real feedback. Because generally anything you’re doing, again, whether it’s work related, it’s a personal issue. You know, exercise, whatever it is until you start taking action. Again, you’re just listening to that voice inside your head, which is always your own worst critic, right? And sometimes your own worst enemy.

And we just need to realize that, okay, well actually want to do something. So I get feedback from other people that are helpful because I’m probably trying to interact with other people or do something for other people. And that’s the feedback I need. Not that little voice inside my head.

Yeah, well, it says it’s gotta be perfect may as well not even do it. You know, and I just all I can say is that, you know, if you believe that, I think that you know, you’ve got to take a step back and realize, how often are things perfect. You know, I use a lot of products have used a lot of services, and they’re not perfect, but they’re trying very hard to solve a problem solve an issue or provide a service.

Over time, they’re getting better. They can’t know exactly what I want. This is a good case for people who do maybe software as a service. And they log in you use it. And they asked for feedback because they can’t make it perfect. And they understand that and they said, Hey, here’s what we offer. If this is worth it to you, you’ll pay for the service. And over time, we’re going to iterate and take your feedback and get that going.

And so I try to apply that idea to a lot of various whether it’s writing, taking action on a new project, just you go out and over time you get better at this because you start to understand what do I need to make this good? And then the last step is I actually needed to get it out there and get feedback so that I can make it great.

I’ll get back to Melissa Moses got some good comments about this stuff. And then last but not least, okay, so we talked about one of the symptoms being no time to plan and the underlying issue there being that you think it won’t work, you know, otherwise probably be doing it. So, my, I implore anyone who feels this way to try planning or doing your daily review for the very first thing for six days, all right, not even a week, just try it for for six days and do it first thing, okay, you know you can do it while you’re getting coffee but don’t do it. You know, don’t wait.

Don’t get your coffee and then do it. You know, don’t Putz around the house and then do it. Do it in the same place. You know, sit down at your desk, sit down at the coffee table.

Excuse me and just use the same method. I’ve talked about this a lot before where you can do this with best self journal you a piece of paper, Evernote, but whatever it is, you’re just trying to build that habit for six days. So when you get up and get started in the morning, sit down and do this first thing. And like I said, the simple way just gathering all your to do’s look over your calendar, whatever it is you need to do and then prioritize. Okay, and look through there and then you’re just going to do this for six days.

That’s it 15 to 30 minutes. And then on day seven, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to write down how it has helped you. Okay? Did it improve anything? Did it actually hurt anything? And then, you know, if you can, if you’re watching this, come back to the productivity Academy, either real world productivity group, Facebook page, whatever it is. And let me know how that worked. You know, let us know, let everyone know what improved. Was there something that didn’t work out? And what are you going to do to get over that? And if it didn’t improve? Are you going to keep with it? Is there something you can iterate on and get better about?

And so let’s share with us let us know because in my mind, that is the really important part of this, you can have this great habit, but if you have no way to improve it over time, then yeah, definitely, you’re either going to stall or you know, it’s not going to work for you and you’re just going to stop doing it which is also unfortunate. So, six days, do a review in the morning, gather all your tasks.

Your appointments, get all that stuff together, prioritize, list out what you’re going to do for the day, go for it. Okay? And do that for six days set a reminder for yourself to get it done. And then on day seven, just sit down, grab a post it grab the same thing you were using the plan and just answer these questions, what worked well, and how can I get more of it? What didn’t work well, and how can I either get rid of that or you know, reduce it from happening? So and then come back and share? Want to know whether it’s good or bad? Either way, let us know for sure.

Alright, so I’m going to hop over here. Melissa has got several comments here.

To do to do to do to do doo, Melissa. Okay, this is a good one, too. So we’ve been moving around for 10 years living out of boxes and Walmart bags. We’re finally having our house built and have 10 years of stuff to go through. Okay. I feel your pain, having moved several times over the last few years.

I feel your pain and decreasing amounts because every time we’ve moved, we’ve gotten rid of stuff which has been awesome. That’s something I personally enjoy doing when I’m kind of a not a minimalism kick. But you know, looking at and actually reading several books like seven or eight years ago, you know about how things end up having this really high overhead just not in the sense of like, Oh, this room is full, or I need a bigger house, or I need a storage unit, but also mentally, just having that stuff. So that’s been really helpful for us. Moving was a great time to get rid of stuff.

But I also understand from moving and having to go through everything and I think this is a great chance to put to work something called Eat That Frog or eat the frog. And it’s just that idea. I forget who coined that term. I apologize, certainly wasn’t me.

But the idea is, maybe you have like one box per day that you go through and your goal is to go through the box, and you’re going to decide everything in the box down to the last thing and the box itself maybe is like things you’re going to keep Where are you going to keep them and things you’re going to get rid of how are you going to get rid of them and you just do that, or maybe it’s a Monday, Wednesday, Friday thing, but you set yourself that schedule, and you don’t make it, I’m going to go through a room today, or, you know, I’m going to do it all on the weekend, you know, which ends up being a huge task and probably won’t happen, but doing one small thing, but just doing it every single day and making that the first thing you do.

And I think this kind of ties back to what we’re talking about as far as doing the daily review every day. You know, a lot of times I hear people saying, I don’t have time to do these things. And it’s like, No, you make time for the things you really want to do. And once you start to see good results, you’ll naturally start moving things around to do them. So for myself, I realized you know, if there’s a job, there’s a business, whatever and the way it can be tough, but maybe you could go through like one box in the morning and then move on to other things. And you see as you start to see the pile of stuff diminishing i think that that you know can be its own motivator. I know for myself that’s been helpful.

Let’s see, Melissa says, my trick is creating a fantastic list with a killer title looks cool amaze myself, then I fell away somewhere that makes sense to me at the time that I forget where I put it. All right.

Well, I’m guessing either that’s is that for moving or is that for your to do list? So I mean, if it’s your to do list Yeah, you definitely need to keep, you know, your to do list and things like that in front of you. I will literally put sticky notes sometimes with when I’m changing, I guess my schedule or changing my process for my daily review, I’ll write a sticky note and put it on my monitor right here. Just to remind myself even though I also have in my journal, you know, that’s the way I am and I think a lot of people are we underestimate how hard it can be and we need to keep things right in front of ourselves sometimes.

Alright, got a few more minutes. Let’s see. And Melissa said we just had mass more things. Yeah, I mean, if you want ping me in the group, and I’ve got some suggestions, if you’re interested I did some reading on this because I was a few years ago looking for the same type of help in terms of, you know, how can I either not necessarily avoiding purchases, but I just I want to have things that I want. I don’t like waking up and being like, wow, over the past couple months, we just got a bunch of stuff like, I don’t know why habit. So if that’s kind of what you’re feeling, you’re looking for some ideas on that I can definitely point you in the right direction there.

So all right, let’s take a look and see if we’ve got anything else. Grab some water real quick.

Hmm. Okay. A quick question I had seen on the website was how do you remain productive throughout the day? Okay, there’s kind of a broad question, but it is one that I think is good. And I think that there’s a few kind of no big things that you can look at to kind of use the 20 rule here that will give you the most leverage right away. And one of those is knowing when you’re the most effective. I think most people have a general idea. But they may not do as good a job of blocking stuff out. So if you’re effective, or you know, like, once you’ve had your coffee, you’ve gone for a walk, and like you’ve gotten some admin your emails, you don’t have to think about that.

So like maybe by 9:30 in the morning, you really effective until you start getting hungry and that’s around one will then you know, say, hey, from 931 is a really important time, I should definitely try to block out meetings, I should try to get calls rerouted. I should not open my email, you know, I should really protect that time. I think that that’s one good way to do it is that you’re maximizing the time that you are effective and productive, so that you get a lot done there.

And I think a lot of people and you know, two to four hours can get more done. When they’re really focused then you know, eight hours of just mediocre kind of interrupted work. The other thing is taking breaks, even within that time depending on how you like to do it. Maybe you do like the pomodoro technique and work for 25 minutes and take a break for five or work for 45 and take a break for 15 but also remembering then to do that throughout the rest of the day so that you don’t get to like four o’clock and you know have like eyestrain and just exhausted, you know, and this is something I definitely work on.

And I’m sure it’ll be kind of it’s one of those lifelong things but just getting better about maybe set a timer continuing to do the Palmeiro technique throughout the afternoon, or just setting sometimes it Hey, every day at two o’clock and go for a 15 minute walk. Especially if you work at computers are sitting down all day, you know, get a little bit of exercise, give your eye and brain a little bit of relief and you kind of schedule these throughout the day. So you know, in my mind the goal isn’t to get done with the day and just be exhausted right you know, it’s like super productive, but now I’m just going to crash and burn.

You know I want to get done with the day and and feel as good as I can and go on and do other things. You know whether it’s go outside, go on some activity, go have dinner, whatever it is.

And then last but not least, I’ll just say iterate. You know, maybe you’re trying some deep work techniques. Maybe you’re trying Palmeiro, you’re trying some different break times. You know, set a reminder maybe once every few weeks ask yourself, Is this working? You know, what’s made me what made me feel the best what days have been the most productive? And you know, why was that do a little digging, he knows could only really take up 10 or 15 minutes, but this is going to help you in the long run, continue to get better, better and better.

Right.

Okay, so, Melissa, I’ll answer this or talk to this one last point and then we’re going to wrap it up for today says I can stare at all the things I need to do for hours. And I would just say them just stop doing it. Right. You know, this is one of those where a lot of times we have to break out of the mold and if we keep doing the same things and expecting different results, that you know, so I forget what the quote is. But like, that’s the definition of insanity. And not to say anyone’s insane or crazy or anything like that like, but a lot of times, we have to remind ourselves like, okay, I keep doing the same things over and I am not getting the changes I want.

So therefore, I need just need to try something different. And a lot of times, you know, that’s uncomfortable, it’s getting out of the comfort zone, but just saying, you know what, today, I’m going to set a timer for 15 minutes, I’m going to do the best I can to prioritize, maybe write little notes about what I think is important, or highlight the 10 things I think are most important, and then cut them in half. And then I’m gonna just try it, and I’m going to do those things. And I’m going to stop, and then I’m going to look around and see did the world explode? Like, you know, think something like that and be like, No, of course it didn’t. I’m not saying that nothing bad can happen.

You need to stay on top of your tasks and your responsibilities. But a lot of times we do need to take that step back and say let’s try something different. You know what happened? That Good, what happened that was bad and then move forward from there. So, thanks for watching. Whether you’re watching live whether you’re checking out the replay, this can do it for Episode 82 of the weekly q&a.

Thanks for watching. If you are checking out the replay and you’re watching on YouTube, you can hit the subscribe button or you can also find below the link to come join us in the real world productivity group. That’ll do it for this week. I will see everyone next week.

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