I wanted to tackle a topic that I know interests most of you and after a bit of lurking I came to the realization that Productivity is general concern, and rightly so. Most of us who blog are usually multi-passionate which puts a lot on our plates every single day.
Having a custom strategy is important to ensure that you don't have deadlines coming out of your ears, it's also essential in preventing burn out – but sometimes just taking the time to build a realistic plan is far from possible.
I'm not an expert when it comes to time management and productivity but I haven't gone insane... yet. I believe that at least qualifies me to tell you which bits and pieces of productivity advice have worked for me when I didn't have a strategy or at times when life's challenges have thrown that carefully planed structure out the window:
01. Write Sh*t Down
Dave Kolo's WSD productivity method is the thing that makes the most sense. If you have something in writing to remind you of what you're supposed to be doing and when you're supposed to do it chances are, you will do it.
02. If it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now!
Is part of Davi Allan's GTD philosophy. Why write it down or stress out about it when you can get it out of the way? Quick calls, short emails or even small household tasks. Get them out of the way before seeing them in writing overwhelms you. Now, this is only successful when you focus on 1-2 tasks. There's no point in this if you end up spending an hour doing 2-minute tasks.
03. Eat your frogs
"If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." – Mark Twain.
Certainly Mr. Twain didn't paint the prettiest picture but it's great advice for those of us who constantly feel pushed to the point of not knowing where to get started completing our tasks. Work on the most difficult task first.
This is something I've always done, even before reading more about productivity. My approach is similar to the Power Hour technique. It's about limiting yourself to focusing on one task for 1 hour – my only exception is that I change the time-frame according to my needs.
This works only if I don't reply to messages, personal emails or even worry about other work that might be queued. If you're a natural multitasker and you're happy juggling things all the time, this will be difficult but it's done wonders for me.
After completing the task, I allow myself the time for out-of-work activities for 10 minutes, I use those to stretch, fill up my water bottle or maybe send out a quick tweet about something completely unrelated to work and then carry on with the next task.
05. Relax and drink water
Believe or not one of the things that stop us from being highly productive is that we are in constant reaction mode, to the point in which our productivity becomes sporadic through out the day without letting us maintain a healthy pace.
We're also trained to think that caffeine equals alertness, therefor ups our productivity. The reality is that caffeinated drinks not only make our stress hormone go off the charts it also dehydrates our bodies. Dehydration causes mental fatigue which results in lack of concentration. I make it an every day ritual to drink at least 2 liters of water and you should too.
Not taking care of our minds and bodies is the perfect road to hitting brick-walls. When you are not working it is important that you give yourself true relaxation time, be as intentional with the "doing nothing" part as you are with the work. Make it a practical and mental exercise to disconnect from your lists and deadlines.
Whether you want to take your weekend off or a couple of hours of your every day, this will change your complete approach.
You can apply one or all of the tips above by determining if it fits your lifestyle or not. The key thing to understand is that we will either run our day or the day will run us. Reclaim your productive life back by making it work for you.
How do you keep yourself from getting distracted throughout the day?
For more advice, tips and a full productivity strategy: Purchase my book 30 Days To Minimal Blogging.
Photography: Nina Holst with thanks.