Tag Archives: Time management

Be more productive in 2014 by organizing your information based on tasks


Our lives are filled with information. Online and offline, scribbled notes, post-its, to-do lists, research, web history, and much more. With information being a huge part of our lives these days (especially with the internet and our busy schedules), organizing them may be tough.

Why not organize based on the tasks we are doing?

We remember actions.

You can only know how to drive by actually driving. Apply the same concept on our information, and you can see that we remember what we were doing instead of what category it falls under. So instead of saving bookmarks under the category “Programming”, save it as “Learn JavaScript Programming” or instead of writing cake recipes in a notebook called “Recipes”, call it “Bake Cakes”. This makes it easier to refer back to our notes.

Actionable to-do lists.

Writing actionable to-do lists is a great productivity hack. It gives your tasks a meaning and makes it easier for our brain to comprehend it, hence increasing the chances of getting it done. Instead of organizing all your holiday planning and travel research under “Travel” or “Trip to San Francisco”, save it as “Planning trip to San Francisco”. Not only does it make you complete the task, it also makes it easier to refer back to all your travel plans.

Repeatable tasks.

Better organization just makes it easier to refer back to our information. Now that I have all my travel plans organized under “Planning trip to San Francisco”, the next time I go there I just have to look back at that task and view all the information that I have in there. This would even work for really small tasks you do everyday. For example, save all your favorite design websites in one task called “Get design inspiration” and you would be able to access them easily every time you need design inspiration.

Be specific.

It’s better to organize your informations in smaller, more specific tasks so it’s easier to search for them. Instead of saving programming resources as “Learn Programming”, split it to “Learn JavaScript Programming”, “Learn Python Programming”, and “Learn Ruby Programming”. Being specific would keep the information in smaller groups, making it easier to find them. You can also store them as subtasks to a larger category for better organization.

Get an app that does just that.

For those of you who spend most of your time online and need an app that saves all your information as tasks, use Overtask. It’s a Chrome extension that saves all your sites based on the task you are doing, allowing you to refer back to sites easily. Using Overtask, you are not just limited to saving research information, but also web apps that you need to complete the task. For example, have a task called “Write report for group assignment” and have web apps like Google Drive saved together with your research sites, communication tools like Facebook and Gmail, and team management tools like Trello.

Make 2014 a great year by organizing your information based on tasks to stay productive and organized. Happy New Year!

Written by

one word, ambitious.

Published December 31, 2013

 

“This week” is the answer Stress-free. Sanity.


“Honey, can you make the insurance payment? ” my wife would ask me.

“Sure dear, I’ll take care of it,” I’d respond.

Early in our marriage there were often fireworks due to such seemingly innocuous conversations between my wife and I. It took me a while to figure that my wife meant, “Can you get the insurance paid NOW!” And it galled her no end, that my response meant, that I’d get it done one of these days.

Fortunately for us, we arrived at a compromise that all such conversations, especially ones where I needed to get something done, meant I’ll get it done that WEEK! Twenty years on, we are still on talking terms largely due to this one agreement.

Each year, as I work on new projects and often with new team members, I learn a thing or two about managing my time better – even if it’s only what not to do. From my early Franklin planning days of the early ‘80s through the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People all the way through Getting Things Done and Wunderlist, I’ve tried my share of tools and methods to be more productive and get more of the right stuff done in less time. Truth is that it’s still a work in progress and I continue to struggle with procrastination.

As the parent of two teen girls, child of an aging, recently widowed parent, as a slightly overweight middle-aged man trying to get in shape, the operational head of a non-profit and spouse of a professional musician, my to-do list is overflowing. Even when it’s incomplete.

If you are like me, your to-do lists are ambitious – maybe more hopeful than practical. The very act of opening them is daunting. But we still put too much for a day on ‘em. It finally dawned on me to apply the lesson I’ve learned in making commitments to my wife. Seek balance over a week – and not try the impossible of trying to achieve it each day.

Plan your to-do list for a week. Yep – not just for the day. The reality is some days you’re going to get only one thing done, if that. On other days you’re going to be on fire. By keeping your to-do horizon to be a week, rather than the day — things will be a whole lot less stressful. Sure the first week you’ll over commit, but very soon you’ll get the knack of it.

Now say after me, “I’ll get it done sometime this week!”

Further Reading

Three things a day

 — Simply plan your next day.. that’s how I finished my app.

Written by

Entrepreneur, Marketing Evangelist,Writer, Father of Girls-Two – I blog at http://ksrikrishna.com/

 

A productivity technique every founder needs to apply


by lucamascaro, creative commons license

by lucamascaro, creative commons license

You think you are a productivity genius, the multitasking master who gets things done like no other. You can answer an email, talk on the phone and check the user growth rate, all in the same time. I used to think I was that productivity genius. And how wrong I was!

There were days when, after working for several long hours, I actually had no achievement. It was frustrating and daunting. But it was not my fault. I was working, right? No, it was just the lie I was telling myself.

There were days when I was catching myself staring blank in the middle of a task having no idea why I was losing my focus; or days I was spending looking for an incentive to finally start writing that blog post. Distractions were everywhere vying for mindshare. Interruptions were taking their cut and procrastination excuses were produced by my brain with the speed of sound. My attention was constantly drawn to notifications and all kind of ideas to improve something or to get something else done. And it was damn hard to disperse all this noise.

That’s when Vlad, our CEO, proposed an experiment – use The Pomodoro Technique [video] as a team and see if there are any improvements in our workflow and productivity.

The Pomodoro Technique

Before letting you know how it went for us, here’s in brief what this technique is about.

It was invented in the ‘80s by Francesco Cirillo “with the aim of using time as a valuable ally to accomplish what we want to do the way we want to do it, and to empower us to continually improve our work or study processes.”

Basically, it builds on the idea that it’s difficult for us to focus on a particular task for more than 25 – 50 minutes without taking breaks from it, 25 minutes being the optimal time for most of us. So, you break things down into units of 25 minutes of focused work (no interruptions allowed) followed by a 5 minutes break. Such a unit is called a Pomodoro.

The technique has three main stages:

  1. Planning the activities you want to do, including the estimate of the number of Pomodoros needed for each task (at the start of the day).
  2. Tracking the actual number of Pomodoros you spend completing the tasks (throughout the day)
  3. Reviewing what you got done, how long it took and how accurate your estimations were (at the end of the day).

Then improve.

Some basic rules:

  • A Pomodoro is indivisible. There is no such thing as a half of a Pomodoro or quarter of a Pomodoro.
  • Break down a task that takes more than 5 – 7 Pomodoros to complete, combine tasks that take less than a Pomodoro. A Pomodoro is the work unit.
  • No interruptions are allowed, be them internal or external. If you get hit by a new idea in the middle of a Pomodoro, write it down and return to it later. Turn silent all notifications, close the email window. If you’re working in an office, explain your colleagues that you’re experimenting 25 minutes slots of focused and uninterrupted work and that you’ll get back to them later. Keep in mind that most of the time, so-called ‘urgencies’ are not so urgent as one may think at first.
  • After 4 Pomodoros in a row take a longer break of 25 minutes to freshen up and move around a little bit.

To fully understand the technique and to make the best use of it,you should also read the ebook and have a look at the cheat sheet.

The upsides and downsides

Overall, The Pomodoro technique gave us a sense of control. It boosted our discipline, focus and clarity in thinking. But most of all, it helped us stop feeling overwhelmed and somehow stuck. Before turning to it, we’ve tried a few alternatives, but it seemed that the best fit for us were chunks of 25 minutes of uninterrupted work.

Upsides:

  • Clear focus. No more wasted energy while trying to multitask or to get back ‘in the zone’ after an interruption.
  • Kicking the brain’s system and motivation into high gears. You see actual progress and you keep on going. You’re in control and you feel increased satisfaction from being able to have a sharper focus and to solve problems in less time than before.
  • Getting down to work faster. No more excuses and dawdling when starting something that scares you, or bores you. You start the timer and dive in the task at hand. Really. Do that. That’s it. It forces you to step on your fears and get things done.
  • A discipline challenge you are throwing down to you. And we all love challenges that involve improving ourselves, overcoming our limitations and getting things done faster.
  • Prioritized and clear objectives for a work day. Gone are the days when you feel overwhelmed by your endless to do list and you run from task to task in a failed attempt to get everything done. Most of the times, we tend to put things on the list because they seem urgent and need a solution as fast as possible. We forget to take into account that we can work only so much during a day. Planning at the start of the day and estimating the needed time for each task saves you from the frustration of not checking everything on the to do list. And it gets better and better over time, as accuracy improves.
  • More efficient meetings. When the whole team starts thinking in terms of Pomodoros, everyone tends to pay more attention to how they spend their time and how productive they are. That translates into shorter, more focused and productive meetings.
  • It forces you to review what you got done at the end of the day. This is another motivation booster and it helps you better understand how you spend your time, which is your most valuable resource. We are sharing our daily achievements with the rest of the team using an amazingly simple tool – iDoneThis. [disclaimer: we've invested with Geekcelerator in iDoneThis].
  • An opportunity for continuous optimization and better results. You get to see if the most important activities get the most of your time – cause this is how things should work, right? – and how much actual work you got done during the day. That’s how you can eliminate unnecessary tasks while achieving better results or, as Pareto would say – concentrate on the 20% work that provides 80% of the results. That’s how we’ve realized how much time we were spending on emails, organizational activities, time that can otherwise be spent improving our products, writing a new post or have a productive meeting with one of our portfolio teams.
  • Creating a timetable. This is truly helpful for those with many activities during a day as it allows them to better concentrate and better organize themselves.

Downsides and how to avoid them:

  • At the beginning, it can be annoying not to be immediately available for incoming phone calls, requests from team members, friends, family or customers. It can get uncomfortable and naggy. But it’s important to realize that it’s better for everyone to give them your full attention when you do have time, than to try and squeeze them in. The hack is to invert the dependency on interruptions and make the interruptions depend on you.
  • If you don’t have 25 minutes (let’s say you have only 15) you tend to decide to not work in that span. In these situations, I choose to turn to my reading list on Pocket, as there are always a few articles waiting for me there. The hack is to still do something useful, be it reading, organizing your desktop/papers or returning a call.
  • You can get a feeling, especially if you are not used to self-discipline, that you are controlled by something external to you, by the Pomodoro Technique. This is not the point of it. Keep in mind that its sole purpose is to help individuals or teams improve their workflow and productivity.
  • For results-driven people, the Pomodoro Technique could seem an invitation to work faster, so they tend to take unhealthy shortcuts. This is not the right track. You get to improve your productivity and overcome your limitations by tracking yourself, observing your way of working, and always improving on your current metrics.

Tips to start using the Pomodoro Technique

The good news is that you need no preparation at all to start applying it. So you can get immediately to work. The basic requirements are:

  • a timer (you can use a kitchen counter, your phone, your laptop etc.)
  • pen and paper to plan and keep track of Pomodoros (you can use a normal notebook or the templates)
  • willpower and patience :)

It’s as simple as it sounds.

Also, keep in mind the followings:

  • Expect interruptions and think of strategies to avoid them (there are several suggested in the ebook but you can get creative here).
  • Internal interruptions generally disguise our fear of not being able to finish a task either the way we want it or when we want it. And fear has a cure – action!
  • Pomodoros will get better and better in time. The initial ones will be more difficult, that’s why you should celebrate the first uninterrupted Pomodoro.
  • Mastering the technique takes from 7 to 20 days of constant application. We needed approx. 2 weeks. Also, mastering it, means to have timetables, which involves splitting your day in chunks in which you’ll be focusing on solving a specific problem or a set of similar tasks.
  • Start with the goal of completing 8 – 10 Pomodoros a day and slowly increase to 14 – 16 Pomodoros/day. That’s when you can call yourself a Pomodoro master.

Tools to help you apply the Pomodoro Technique

Our first pick was 30/30, an app available for iPhone and iPad. It is simple to use and straight to the point, but it lacks some core features like the history of previous days and a way to visualize how many Pomodoros are needed for a specific task. In other words, it is good enough for planning and tracking, but it fails at reviewing and optimization.

FocusCoach (on the right) offers a nice way of visualizing estimated Pomodoros vs. done Pomodoros for a specific task. 30/30 (on the left) is simple to use and straight to the point.

Right now, I’m using FocusCoach, an iPad app specially designed to be used with The Pomodoro Technique.

Here are some of its features I like:

  • A nice way of visualizing estimated Pomodoros vs. done Pomodoros for a specific task;
  • A built-in calendar so you can go back anytime and look for patterns;
  • It calculates the average number of Pomodoros per day and it helps you understand the way you’re working by displaying statistics such as the number of Pomodoros done yesterday, the current week, the week before and the current month.

Unfortunately, it’s kinda buggy and it doesn’t look that it’s going to be updated anytime soon. With a bit of effort (meaning you learn the bugs and how to avoid them) you can hack around the app and use it pretty smoothly.

Other tools to consider: tomato.es (it is like a web based social network for programmers who use the technique), Focus Booster (it provides a desktop version and a web based one) and Pomodroido (an Android app with some game mechanics inside).

So, we put the Pomodoro Technique at work by customizing it to our needs and we got pretty impressive results. It proved to be a successful experiment and an experience worth sharing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts as well. Tweet me @andreeamih.

Written by

Creative problem solver passionate about technology and transculturality. A doer in love with drawing and productivity hacks. Geekette @geekcelerator

 

Some Productivity Hacks for a Better 2014


To start off the year on the right foot.

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”
M. Scott Peck


Every year, during the holiday season, I think I’m not the only one reflecting on the year that’s ending, wishing I was a bit more productive in order to get a little more time to spend with my friends and loved ones, or simply get more things done.

So I thought it would be interesting to give you this lightweight list of 10 of the best productivity hacks I know and try to apply every day:


  1. Do not get sucked into unnecessary meetings.
    We all know that time is the most important asset in life. It is very tempting to meet as many people as possible for networking purposes but you risk to loose sight on what really needs to get done. Learn to prioritize and to choose what meetings to refuse. Spending more time on the most important meetings is one of the keys to success.
  2. Create to-do lists.
    Write down everything important that goes through your mind. Don’t believe you can remember everything. You can forget crucial elements that could have been translated into an enormous success. This only takes a few minutes a day and helps you understand what’s really important or not and create your game plan.
  3. Forget conventional wisdom if something else works better for you.
    Make your own rules and processes. You are the one who knows yourself the best. This has significantly increased my own productivity. You should try it.
  4. Delete emails without fear.
    And classify the rest as soon as you read them. You will save a lot of precious time.
  5. Simplify your information stream.
    Spend some time going through your twitter account, newsletter subscriptions etc…and edit aggressively. Think about what really matters and delete the rest. You can always go back if you really miss something.
  6. Put your phone/tablet away when you really need to get things done.
    Unless you are working on them of course. In this case, turn off notifications. This is one of the rules that work best for me.
  7. Don’t overestimate what you can achieve.
    It often leads to disappointment and bad time management. Every evening, think about the three most important things you need to get done the next day and prioritize accordingly.
  8. Choose and stick to a recreational activity.
    And make it a routine, preferably at the same time each day. Of course, going to the gym or a daily jog are great activities that will also keep you healthy but it can be anything: writing, arts, learning a new language…this will help you refocus and be more productive. The best ideas or solutions to problems often come up during those recreational moments.
  9. Work on one thing at a time.
    You may feel better about yourself and more productive while multitasking but avoid it as much as possible. Focus on one thing at a time and do it well. You will achieve much more that way.
  10. Outsource everything you can.
    Look into solutions like Fancy Hands for example. Focus your time on what really matters and delegate the rest.

and don’t forget :

Written by

Tech entrepreneur / Kilimanjaro climber / Enjoying life in crazy Moscow with @theshaginian

 

10 Ways to Implement GTD Simply


Keep it simple.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. Albert Einstein

I thought I’d put a post up about implementing David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD). I won’t use this post to explain what GTD is as it is explained all over the place, but for a good explanation please look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done

I’ve been using GTD for over a year now and I have put together this list for people as a refresher (let’s face it we all fall off the GTD wagon), or for those starting out on the GTD path to productivity. Remember if you can are more organised then (theoretically) you’ll have more time to do what you want (and pursue your Lifestyle Project). So here are my top 10 ways to implement GTD simply:

1. Put everything you need to sort in one place first

Clear your desk, move all your files on your desktop to one folder, move your thousand emails in your inbox in to one folder. You will immediately feel less overwhelmed with a clear desk and inbox (even if the reality is that you have just shifted stuff from one place to another).

2. Use paper for your lists — don’t use outlook, fancy online tools etc.

Lists and the use of lists are central to the GTD methodology. I have experimented with literally hundreds of online to do management systems, excel spreadsheet designs, outlook categories etc. What have I learned from this? Paper is the absolute best place to keep your lists. It is non-linear. Sure it is fun to play around with the latest system but there is bound to be something that it doesn’t do that will mean you just look for another system.

3. Get an physical Inbox and use it from now on

This doesn’t actually need to be an inbox; it just needs to be a designated place where you put all of your ‘stuff’.

4. Make “Do it, Defer it, Delegate it” your mantra

Write it on a Post-it note and stick it on your monitor and your inbox. Make it your mantra. Whenever you designate time to processing, say it for everything that you pick up to deal with.

5. The Waiting for list is very powerful.

This is especially true if you are delegating as much as possible. You want to do less don’t you? Then you should delegate as much as possible. The unfortunate nature of human beings is that they don’t always do what you ask them to. Keep a waiting for list so you can keep on top of everything you are expecting someone else to do. Simply initials of delegate, date delegated and task are the only things you need to record. Cross it off when it is done. I find that keeping the date delegated is useful when chasing people up.

6. Set up your filing system before you start and keep it simple.

For online filing just use an archive dump folder as search tools are good enough. For physical filing David Allen suggests a simple A-Z system. Personally I find myself filing physical stuff less and less so my existing system for papers works just fine. For my electronic documents search tools make just archiving everything the easiest thing to do by a mile.

7. Resist the temptation to read too much and try out every single new to-do list application etc. for your system.

That’s part of the reason this list is about keeping things simple. You can spend weeks of your life reading up how to ‘Sharpen your Saw’ and get your system as perfect as possible. The reality is that once you know the principles the best thing you can do is simple to apply them and start getting things done.

8. Simplify your email folders

Establish a filing system for your emails and keep it simple. That way when you have an email you will quickly be able to put it where it needs to go. Base it on the mantra, and remember if your system is simple and easy to use, then you are more likely to use it.

a) Do It — once you’ve done with the email archive it. Have just one or few archive folder for your emails rather than loads of folders for different things. You can use the wide variety of search tool to find emails in the future quite easily.

b) Defer it — pop it in a ‘Follow up’ folder and make a note of it on your next actions list — easy!

c) Delegate it — pop it into a ‘Hold’ or ‘Waiting for’ folder. You could of course set up some fancy rules to do this for you when you delegate someone something by email.

d) Delete it — If something is for information only or of no relevance then delete it. Or you could actually just archive it just in case. Either way if it no longer serves any purpose then get it out of your inbox and move on. Remember every time you re-read an email you waste time.

9. Process your email in batches at set times rather than keep checking throughout the day.

You’ll find that if you set aside a time to go through all of your emails in one go then you are more likely to stick to your GTD mantra and whizz through them. I actually rather sadly enjoy seeing how quickly I can get my inbox to zero (and get out of there!). If you spend your whole time with one eye on your inbox then you’ll be constantly distracted and unproductive. Switch off email popups etc and focus.

10. Make sure you do the weekly review.

I’ll admit it; this is by far the weakest part of my implementation. Setting aside structured time to do my weekly review is sadly lacking. This is stupid of me as I know how valuable it can be. I do find that I ‘can’t be bothered’ as much on a Friday so often now find that I do an ‘informal’ weekly review on a Monday as I set out my tasks for the week. The fact is when you do a weekly review and go through everything and eliminate as much as possible you have a much better grasp of what you have to do and how you’ll get it done.

Let me know how you get on or if I’ve missed anything in the comments! Do you use GTD? How simple is your implementation?

Written by

Problem solving, forever learning.

 

The life of a newly-wed entrepreneur


I’ll preface by saying I’m only 26, I’ve only been married for 3 months, and I’m only 1 year into my first venture. And by venture, I mean it’s something I do part time and from which I generate no income.

My speech teacher used to tell my classmates and I that you should start any presentation by establishing your credibility. I have a feeling I just did the opposite of that, but hopefully it at least frames my perspective.

Despite only having limited experiences, there are some very important life lessons I’ve learned over the last few months. The most important of which is having boundaries around your work for the betterment of your relationships.

As an aspiring entrepreneur it’s hard for me to think about boundaries. I’m young, I’m hungry, and I desperately want to create something “cool.” You have to be working all the time to do that, right? Wrong.

I also have a wife (and a life) and I have a terrible tendency to put them second to my work.

A few weeks back my wife broke down one night when we were going to bed. I had been on my computer all night, doing nothing terribly important and she said, “Why can’t you give me the same attention you give everything else?”

My first inclination was to say “What? No. You’re wrong.” But, actually she was 100% right: I had replaced her presence with superficial work all because I thought it was what I was supposed to do. And she was, understandably, veryhurt by it.

After that night, I realized I’m rarely doing things that actually matter when I’m “working.” In these moments, I care more about saying “I worked all day then I worked all night” for prosperity’s sake than I do for showing real productivity. What I’m really doing is pushing my wife to the side and telling her I have more important things to do. (Not good)

This made me realize how important it is to set boundaries in your work, and to create those behaviors early on. As a person who tends to over-focus, I easily get lost in my computer and am constantly stumbling on new things to do with no real purpose. This is great for when I want to waste time, but not so great when I’m trying to figure out what it means to be a husband.

Previously I would rely on my memory when I had an idea and I would try to recall it when it was time to work. That’s what ultimately got me into trouble. Rather than siting down and being intentional about my work, I found myself jumping from one thing to the next while never really doing or finishing anything. Before I knew it, it was 1am and I had nothing to show for.

You can see why my wife said what she did.

In an effort to change this I’ve started setting up a framework to help me be more efficient with my time. Instead of relying on memory, I’m forcing myself to write stuff down. I’ve been using and enjoying Flow to create and manage tasks. It helps me prioritize things that need to get done and limit the amount of time wasted. It also helps me put my ideas into action: rather than creating tasks that say “figure this out” or “think about this,” all of my tasks are action oriented (“do this,” “finish these,” “order this”).

Also, instead of thinking everything needs to get done at the time it arises, I’ve been doing what’s most important first and saving the rest for later. I give myself an hour each day and do whatever it takes to get the pressing items done. Everything else is pushed to the next day. I’ve actually found that the things I previously spent the most time on where among the least important, and that the important things, while few in number, were being put off because I had no action items around them.

These simple changes have helped me tremendously both in my relationship with my wife and in my general productivity. For a newly wed (or for anyone in any kind of relationship), I couldn’t stress the importance setting these kinds of boundaries at a very early stage. As an entrepreneur it’s very easy to ignore what’s most important in exchange for things that don’t matter. In the end, it’s not about looking busy, it’s about getting stuff done and enjoying the life with which you have been blessed, with the people you love most.

Written by

My name is Matt but one time I introduced myself as Math. Co-founder of @vinylmeplease

View story at Medium.com

 

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Procrastination or maximizing a sense of urgency


Is it a flaw, or a virtue?

 

Often times, the question comes to mind, “Is procrastinating a bad habit or is it a virtue?” When I want to make up an excuse for my tendency to justify the lack of promptness, I believe in the notion that it depends on your personality, and what you choose to work on instead of doing something else (the more important task).


According to Psychology Today, Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions. Procrastinators may say they perform better under pressure, but more often than not that’s their way of justifying putting things off.The bright side? It’s possible to overcome procrastination—with effort.

So, PsychologyToday.com (for those not aware of this site) is a website where professionals, or leading academics, contribute to provide insight on human behavior.

Let me go back to the last statement of what they said about procrastination;

Procrastination. The bright side? It’s possible to overcome procrastination—with effort.”

Sounds like a disease, and like the majority of articles that focus on procrastination will tell you that there is a cure for this bad behavior — and even show you how to avoid it – or in other words learn to put it aside.

But wait, isn’t putting something aside another form of procrastination? Should I go and seek help now because I myself have procrastinated??? Nah, I’ll do it later.


Quick back story, two summers ago I participated in a Startup Weekend event in San Francisco where you’d pitch ideas,form teams, whichever gets voted the best will have the opportunity to be worked on and hopefully develop a prototype of the product. I was in a team of 10 individuals – our goal was to develop a mobile app and web site about online confessions with sufficient business development aspects. At the end of the event, which was Sunday evening, we developed a working product that was presented to a panel of judges. All in all it was a success. Had fun, it was awesome!

The point of the story is, we were a group of different individuals with no clue of strengths and weaknesses or how the other person’s behavior will impact our project. But the truth is we had very limited time, yet, we came up with a minimum viable product – or better, a functioning web/mobile application. How did we accomplish this? With a sense of urgency (IMHO).


I’m involved in a public speaking workshop (I get stage fright) and in one of the meetings, it was confirmed that I had to come up with a topic for a speech, considering it was my turn to do one. We met every other week, which gave me about two weeks to prep. I was trying to find a topic for my speech since I had left that meeting. Mind you, I had a lot of topics I wanted to talk about, ideas running crazy in my head, but for some reason, I couldn’t begin one. Just could not. I tried everyday for 11 days, and the closer it got to day 14, I had nothing, no substance whatsoever because I was distracted.

Image representing Paul Graham as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

It was finally the day to do my speech and earlier that day, I read an email from the organizer asking that we submit our topic and title to her. Red Flag! Because at that moment, I needed to get started, I was pressed for time! I looked at the clock and it was 3:35 pm, and within minutes, this topic of procrastination came to mind. I did my super quick research, came up with my title/topic and sent it off to her, wrote the outline, and completed my speech which you are now reading.


Now, to some this would be considered bad behavior, but to few others, the sense of urgency may bring the best out of us. To be honest, this is not an isolated incident for me because I noticed that I produced the best when I have a sense of urgency – and throughout my college experience, I was able to produce quality written work in a matter of couple of hours. So this behavior that I’ve developed and learned overtime has helped me effectively apply it to a lot of things. In other words, I’ve learned to procrastinate…better.


I leave you with this:

Is procrastination a flaw or a virtue? I say it’s neither, it all depends on your personality type, and how it’s managed. As for myself, I believe in seeing it as having a positive trait.

Keep in mind, I’m not advising on how to be a good procrastinator, nor am I condoning what is believed to be a bad character trait. I’m merely stating that it depends on how one would perceive the difference between delaying things is bad or good— Paul Graham said it best,

“ Good procrastination is avoiding errands to do real work or organizing tasks – in order of importance “

In my defense, completing my speech last minute was a result of having a sense of urgency.By the way, I completed my speech 45 minutes before I had to present it.

So do I need help? Perhaps, if it meant having my own personal assistant. Kidding.

 

 

 

 

Do What You Say You’ll Do.


What you actually do matters much more than what you say you’re going to do. Anyone can talk a big game or over-promise, but the actual follow-through is what creates lasting success.

For the last 15 years, part of my unique selling proposition is that I do what I say I’m going to do for the people who hire me. When I tell someone I’m going to do something, I do it (in the amount of time I say it’s going to take). Sometimes I do more, but never less.

Following through is much harder than it might seem, and that’s why people often fall short. Here’s how I make sure that I do what I say.

Never agree to or promise anything unless you are 100% sure you can do it

Saying “yes” is a contract. From telling someone you’ll call them for lunch next week to saying you’ll have a project finished in 3 days, anytime you agree to something, you’re asking someone to trust that you’ll do it.

Say “yes” only to things you are sure about — sure that you’ll make them happen and sure that it’s something you want to do. Half-assing something or not finishing a task is far worse than saying “no” upfront. Commit with complete conviction or don’t commit at all.

Say no

Telling someone upfront that you can’t or aren’t interested in doing something re-affirms your commitment to your current schedule and tasks. Saying “no” means you not only respect yourself; you respect the other person, because you can’t guarantee to finish or commit to what they want.

Have a schedule

Anytime you say “yes” to something, put it in your calendar and set a reminder (or several). These reminders could involve anything from completing part of a client project on a certain day, to making an agreement with yourself to work out twice a week. Own your tasks to ensure they get done.

And remember that most things will take longer than you expect, so account for setbacks, other commitments and the fact that sometimes life in general will throw you off-course.

Don’t make excuses

Sometimes things happen that are beyond your control. From car accidents to computer crashes to family issues, life is unexpected. You can’t account for everything when you make a commitment, so if something forces you to break your promise, own it—even if it’s not your fault.Don’t make excuses, just offer to make things right.

Be honest

The truth isn’t always the nicest answer. It might not be what someone wants to hear. But if you’re not rude about it, in the long run, everyone is better off. Telling the truth makes life easier and much more productive. This especially includes being honest with yourself.

Sometimes the most unreasonable expectations are ones we put on ourselves.

Being “impeccable with your word” (via Don Miguel Ruiz) means you are being honest with others, and more importantly, with yourself. This is truly the secret to success and the most important thing I’ve learned in my life. You instantly become “that guy/gal” who people want to work with or have on their team. It may require you to think more carefully about your commitments, but in the long run, being honest makes you a trustworthy person who is valuable in just about every situation.


This post originally appeared on Expert Enough.

 

Your inbox is not your to-do list


Andy DeSoto in Human Behavior and Technology

 

I was traveling a bit over the weekend, trying to keep tabs on what I needed to get done for the Memory Lab. Sometimes it takes the occasional travel experience like this one to remind you what does and does not work about the way in which you organize your to-do list.

I believe in the “Inbox Zero” approach, which advocates organizing all of your e-mails into different folders. Essentially, I use three: a Work folder, a Personal folder, and an Archive. When mail comes in, I drop it in the appropriate folder: Work if it’s something to do in the office, Personal as you’d expect, and the Archive as soon as I am able to process the message. It’s a simple system that works very well; if not 99 times out of 100, at least 49 out of 50.

Social Media Time Management

Social Media Time Management (Photo credit: Claudio Vaccaro)

But all of this breaks down if you start using different devices to check your messages. On another computer without a mail client, you may have to check mail across two or more different web sites (e.g., Exchange and Gmail). Depending on where your to-do folders are stored, you may or may not have access to their contents. And if you’re unable to Archive, they will pile up faster than you can handle them.

Read more – > https://medium.com/mind-behavior-and-technology/2c88df04d0f9

 

 

11 Ways to Be Productive and Happy at the Same Time


by Dean Bocari | The PASSION PRESS™

Soil Health: Productivity with cover crops

Soil Health: Productivity with cover crops (Photo credit: NRCS Soil Health)

 

It can be a confusing world out there, and when we’re confused we’re not productive.

..and a lack of productivity leads to a lack of happiness.

There are tons of things that contribute to this confusion too: Facebook notifications, email, texts, and chatty co-workers are just a small fraction of the disruptions we’re bombarded with.

These “little things” can stack up fast and lead to hampering your happiness and productivity levels.

Use the 11 tips below to get a handle on it all and reclaim your productivity and your happiness, once and for all.

source

Read more – > https://medium.com/life-hacks/2e4265fb80d0