I might be one of the most productive people I know, and still I am still struggling with applying basic theories about productivity. Aren’t we all? Why do we find it hard to get things done? So now I wonder: wow could me – and you master time even better?
Exactly one week from today, we are bringing home a one year old Doberman from Ireland and from that moment I will have to master my time and peak my productivity – “no excuses” style. (read more here about why I think that every Entrepreneur needs a high activity level dog) So, what do I have to adjust immediately, and why you just might want to do the same?
I have read countless books and articles on the subject and (despite this blog post) I am quite alright at mastering time and prioritizing my tasks wisely. I am doing fine. But now I am talking about next level, about becoming razor sharp and getting so productive that I… astonish myself every single day. Do you care to join me in this journey where we, once and for all, master time? This is my MASTER PLAN, feel free to use it:
We know that we have to, still we don’t go all in on it. Monotasking is the new black and there are so many studies on how our brains function better one task at the time, but for some strange reason, we just can’t shut down the world around us. The FOMO has taking over our sanity, we need to be present where it happens… at the cost of being constantly distracted.
Did you know that it takes approximately 20 minutes to come back to full focus once distracted? If you are working in an environment where you need to concentrate on something and yet are surrounded by people that need your help more than 3 times per hour… you do the math. Most of the time, however, it’s our lack of discipline – or just a bad habit of constantly checking for updates – that’s sabotaging for us. But you could actually help yourself to master time by turning off all notifications on all your devices (don’t forget your laptop) and actually keep your hands off social media and your e-mails while doing something else.
I plead guilty to checking my e-mails as they arrive. Most of them, however, do not require immediate action, so I really wouldn’t have to do that for my work. It has simply become a habit, and a part of the service minded mindset that wants to deal with an issue right away. I love the 2 – minute rule (see “Getting things done” below), but unfortunately, I tend to do it wrong if I’m not observant. When it’s THE RIGHT TIME to check your e-mails, do the 2 – minute rule without exceptions, but not per default as soon as an e-mail comes in. Which brings us to the next subject:
What is Batch Processing? It’s simply collecting all tasks of the same sort and doing them at the same time. At the moment, my podcast partner Åsa Wallenrud and I are recording all podcast episodes for the autumn during just a few weeks. That is Batch Processing at it’s best. This is something I am quite good at, actually, but you can always get better! Earlier this spring, I discovered a priceless tool that helps me batch all social media updates for weeks in advance. Check out CoSchedule here. That one really helps me master time.
I start every work day with a few minutes of decluttering. Partly because I am a minimalist and like it best when I have very few things around me when I work (here “things” are not just physical things, but also digital stuff). So I give myself some time to answer those quick e-mails, complete whatever is on my latest post it note, put away what I don’t need to see etc. That helps me focus on whatever is in front of me and is one more way of eliminating distructions and clearing my head.
That one is tough, right? Well, it actually isn’t. It’s all about how and why you say NO to things. If you explain that by saying YES, you would neglect something that is more important to you, then the person will understand. If you say NO because you know that you won’t be able to deliver good work, then people will see you as a honest professional. My day is usually 90% NO and 10% YES, which I think is too much at the moment and needs a step up. And I know that this is still better than most of people, who tend to say YES to LOTS and LOTS of things they don’t want to do. The moment you get the guts to say NO to something, you say YES to yourself and your own agenda. It’s worth it every single time. (of course you should help out your nearest and dearest, but that is not at all the same thing, we all know that.) So please never try to justify saying YES to things that you just couldn’t say NO to.
We absolutely love checking things off our task lists. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t find satisfaction in completing assignments and clearing their to do:s for the day. Plus, being “busy and important” has become a status symbol for many. However, there is a major difference between being busy and being productive, especially if being productive equals revenue. Think about it: how may times do you do the easier tasks during the day, so that you can check them off, realizing that the task that will bring you the most money is still untouched? (because that is the toughest one?) Guilty, GUILTY! I do that all the time! And that is the single most important change that I need to make once the dog arrives, because from that day the time will be an issue. Some days there will only be time for a limited number of tasks, hence I need to focus on the most profitable ones. Hand on heart, would you also benefit from this type of minset change?
You have heard this one before: “you need time off to become more productive”. You know in your head that it’s absolutely correct, yet it feels bad to relax and chill with an overwhelming work load. Welcome to my world. That is my single most important reason for getting a high activity level dog. That is the only thing that will make me stop working non stop. And I know that it will also make me so much more productive. Apparently I think that it’s OK with time off for taking care of an animal, but I struggle to just drop everything and focus on myself. Well, whatever works works, right? Find whatever kind of time off works for you and watch what happens with your productivity. I think that you can master time only when you have established this balance for yourself and I can’t wait to get there.
Good stuff to read about productivity: