In response to reading “Getting things Done” I have captured a few of the ways I stay productive. Hopefully they help you get things done, too.
Here’s how I stay productive (even after all these years)
a) Asana is great for managing the workflow of a project piece by piece,
b) Lo-fi is great, too. Nothing beats moving away from the desk and drawing things out manually on paper.
c) To Do Lists are the bomb- and writing them in the morning allows me to collect my thoughts and face the day.
d) Organising things needs to be fun. No matter how wonderful the system of organisation seems, if you don’t like it or don’t get it, you won’t use it. Trust me.
Routine is a fantastic way to stay productive and should be embraced by any means possible!
a) If you need to chunk through big tasks give yourself isolation time. It takes about 20 minutes to really get into thinking mode, so don’t blow that flow by being bugged by emails, social media or phone calls.
b) Routine is super helpful. If you train yourself to wake up, do a set routine for the start of the day and stick to it, your productivity will increase.
c) Play to what suits you best. Example- A lot of people think I’m a little nutty for always working out of home by myself and only crossing over for pairing or meetings or workshops but it’s my preferred way to work because my desk and my keyboard are at the right heights, I like my music loud, love having incense burning and talk to myself without having to worry about sacrificing comfort or having people think me slightly loony. Having dogs as company helps too.
d) If you don’t enjoy where you work currently, you need to change it so you do. As simplistic as that sounds, being in the flow is you optimal state of being. And that means the right amount of challenge to keep you interested
e) Avoid the trap of being an “email jockey”. Emailing is a form of communication that facilitates work being done… it isn’t a replacement for it. You can’t stay productive if you’re bogged down in email all day
f) Getting things done and having something to show for it at the end of the day is the name of the game. So if your production is stymied for some reason, change tacks until you start feeling like you are getting somewhere.
Here’s another article to drum that home.
a) I avoid doing meetings for meetings sake. My alarm bell sounds whenever meetings exceed 20% of the time I spend with a client because it means it’ll be impacting my production. If it starts scaling up, I follow these steps.
b) I always try to save meetings up and book them all on one day where possible. That way, you stay productive by being in the same mental framework
c) Long agendas only ever make you feel like your racing against the clock or invite the feeling of being overwhelmed by what you need to achieve. And are usually just for showing off purposes anyway- so I don’t entertain them.
d) Public transport helps me think – and has improved my productivity by giving me the right amount of thinking time before and after meetings. If you don’t have the luxury of a minute bus ride to town and back, try these.
Dealing with Interruptions
a) I try to book calls where possible as opposed to have an open door policy of communication so my brain doesn’t un-weave itself.
b) I close everything down (email, phone, social media etc) when I need to focus to minimise interruptions. It’s a great way to stay productive because you, not the devices or platforms, are choosing when you next engage
c) I use a Sometimes/Maybe board next to my desk for the cool “wow” ideas and tasks that hit me I haven’t had time to look into and I go back to it every couple of months to drop off any ideas I thought were cool at the time but have lost their sheen. It helps me keep my brain focussed when a new idea keeps bleating for attention when I have other things to do.
d) I’ve learnt you do have to get back to people in a timely fashion, but immediacy isn’t necessary. That’s a hard one for freelancers to learn I know- but it will help you in the long run too because you won’t train your client to expect you to get back within seconds every time.
e) Only take “urgent” on if it is really that urgent. If someone needs to derail what you are currently doing with a super important, time pressured task, make sure it is absolutely 100% something that really needs to make you halt production. Think of yourself as a big old fashioned printing press. You stop that midstream you lose a LOT… so it better be worth it.
a) I read roughly 20 hours a week, maybe more depending on weekends and holiday time- books, not internet or magazine articles. I find it helps me concentrate to switch how I obtain my information (I get too scattered if it’s all from the internet all the time) and it also helps me keep up with marketing, writing styles and how people translate ideas effectively. I’ve included podcasts and audio books in this as well
b) Unlined A5 journals accompany me everywhere I go to minimise losing a good idea- and they contain everything from doodles to summaries from meetings, conferences and books I have read.
c) I capture project work and other ideas based on their purpose and the values. I often add pictures and writing and hang them up looking all groovy. This really helps to clarify things as well as make me feel creatively inspired as I create them. In fact, making the boards helps me generate other ideas for those projects so the cycle continues.
Feel free to share what you find works below in the comments. I’m bang up for anything that improves productivity!
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