In this blog post I am sharing some productivity tips for getting things done, based on my experience working for companies and now, for myself. You might agree with some of them, or perhaps you won’t, such is life. In any case, I would love to hear your comments, what works for you, what doesn’t. I already talked about ways of boosting your creativity here but given it is Monday, I thought we could focus today on productivity:
Work according to your productivity levels.
I am not a night owl or an early bird. I am an “in the middle of the day” person (what animal represents that? a mid-day dog perhaps?). My highest peaks of productivity are around 10 to 1 and 3 to 6. Tested and proofed over years and I am super fine with it. In 6 hours of good productivity a day you can achieve A LOT.
Image from here
For many years, I tried forcing myself to become an early riser. Well, I can’t and we have discussed this before. I feel sick working out at 6 am and even sicker by the end of the day. The same used to happen at 8 am meetings in the office. I used to be “presently absent”. Don’t expect from me creative ideas or solutions to problems at such those hours of the day. I only hear silence.
However, most days I am sitting at the desk by 8 am, and still sitting by 8pm, same as you. How do I stay productive then?
By taking “Active Rests” during the day. You won’t find me working on complex spreadsheets and problem solving at 8 am. I reply to emails, schedule meetings, edit photos, make “easy” phone calls. Anything that doesn’t require me to squeeze my brains. Once I am in the flow, I can tackle harder issues. In the same way, I don’t do “easy”calls when I am in hustle zone, because I feel I am wasting my energy.
The siesta dilemma
My lunch break is very close to SACRED. Don’t blame me. I have centuries of ancestors behind me that were socially conditioned for siesta, and I think it is engrained in my genes. So, instead of fighting my “condition”, I use siesta time to slow down. My calendar has been always blocked for an hour every day, and I don’t care what the rest of the world thinks of this. Sometimes of course there are meetings, life happens, blah blah blah but I try to keep this time as free as possible. Having lunch outside the office, going for a walk or practising yoga recharges me until midnight.
When I worked at the office, I practised yoga at lunch time for 4 years and stayed at my desk later in the evening because I was still feeling productive. The daily work out was done and my brain was re-fuelled. Tick and tick!
Conclusion: learn about your very own rythm, love yourself and help yourself as much as possible. Perhaps you work at a call centre or you are a big executive with back to back meetings all day or have children…. still, take the hardest part of your work when you are in hustle zone and leave the easy phone calls or later or earlier, whatever works for you.
Batch your work
If I am feeling inspired to write (like today!), I will write not only a blog post, but also a few social media posts or product descriptions. Therefore, I will have some extra content created for later, when perhaps I am not feeling so inspired. According to some studies that I read somewhere, the brain gets fatigued by changing tasks. Remember, multitasking is a NO-NO! Apparently Dave Crenshaw agrees on this too 🙂
Conclusion: change the paradigm (I love this vague statement that no one really understands). I mean, use the momentum to tackle similar tasks at once.
Change the location of work.
You know those annoying people that can sleep anywhere at any time? I am now one of those annoying people who can work from anywhere! All I need is my noise cancelling earphones (thank you Jane!) and I can work under a tree, at a noisy cafe or even…my new favourite one…at public libraries at toddlers playing time! Ha! Are you jealous?
Ana camping at public libraries
Ana camping at cafes
Check your To-Do List. You might have to ditch it.
You know those days when you have done a lot but feels like you have achieved nothing? Blame your To-Do list. If at the top of your To-Do list you have things such as “reply to this email”, “call IT to fix this bug”, “update the presentation”, blah blah blah you are seriously adding no value to this world. Try to do at least 1 thing a day that adds value for customers or for your business. And then, you update the presentation. For me, this sounds like “find a new way of making money that you haven’t thought of yet”, “pitch this organisation to cooperate together”, “contact customers to offer them a discount on a new product”. Because I have a small business that directly depends on my actions, my top priorities have to be 1) Adding value to the customers, so they are happy and we don’t lose what we have achieved; and 2) Finding new ways of making money. So simple, yet so easy to forget.
Use FREE technology.
Although I am a super fan of my Filofax agenda and notebooks with doodles, these days there are amazing apps and software to manage projects and work remotely. For example, Imogen and I use Asana for Project Management. Imagine our situation – at the moment we have 9 workshops scheduled until November, a few private events, plus 15+ products in the e-shop, orders, plus a million ideas in the air that we need to materialise. Asana helps us to stay on top of what needs to be done, by who and by when. It is a free software by the way, and super easy to use. I also use Canva and PicMonkey to edit photos because it is easier than Photoshop, and Free! Google docs is also great, and I want to try Slack.
Limit your alcohol and caffeine consumption during the week.
This is hard, but if you want to stay productive, the last thing you need is to wake up with fog in your head or not sleeping after too many coffees.
This is controversial. Little Ana used to drink 3 to 5 coffees a day since High School. This is not the worst part. I don’t remember not having coffee for breakfast since I was 5 or 6 years old. My mum says I hated milk so much, that the only way I could drink it was by mixing it with a bit coffee. Imagine 7 year-old Ana, spending a night at a friend’s house and asking for a macchiato for breakfast. I am sure other mums would think that my family had “issues”.
It has been a long journey until I could finally survive with one coffee a day. I have unsuccessfully tried to go to zero, but again, my social conditioning is too strong to fight it.
Alcohol is the same. I used to think that a glass or 2 of wine, or a beer or 2 in the middle of the week means nothing, but the harsh reality is that they do! Not sure if this is a placebo effect, but I wake up so much better after a night of zero alcohol (or so I tell myself), that my full energy can be directed to work, not to fight alcohol. Fact.
TV and Facebook drain your energy. Fact of life.
The last of the productivity tips for getting things done is to not check Facebook or turn on the TV (this applies if you work from home) while you are in “hustle mode”. They are the biggest energy suckers. Who can do any work after turning the TV on? I have the belief that TV depletes your energy, it is addictive and it is bad, bad, bad. I remember in my Uni years, that I just couldn’t do any study after watching TV, I felt so tired. When I moved to Australia, as I didn’t understand a word, I did not have a TV for years, and that is when I turned into crafts to fill up my evenings. Even better, that is when I started a business.
So stay away from the TV until it is Wednesday night and The Bachelor starts. Do work or craft instead.
Facebook is the other evil we have these days. Once you are in, chances are you will be trapped in a spiral of gossip, checking comments, someone else’s comments, the profile of the person behind someone else’s comments, and the day is gone and *things* have not been done. Stay away from Facebook until you are commuting back home.
Other unrelated facts:
I wish companies allowed to craft in the office and in meetings. You have heard this from us many times, but when I pick the yarn and a hook, I get some many solutions to problems. Even to world problems! Maybe I should consider moving to Norway!
I discovered recently that the axolotl is the cutest amphibium ever:
**If you enjoyed the Productivity tips for getting things done, you might also enjoy our previous blog post on What it takes to start a business**