This morning I was thinking about my constant effort to improve my productivity and energy management. The world is fighting against people that want to be productive, smart, efficient and ambitious. You have to always be on your toes and proactively plan your life so life doesn’t take control of you. This post (like so many others) was written partially as a reminder to myself about the bad habits of the past that have killed my goals in life. I hope it opens your eyes and helps guide you towards the light of happiness.Read More
I’m a student of productivity. I have to be—distractions are everywhere.
And while I know there are hundreds of apps designed to plan, protect, measure, and manage my time, I prefer some died-in-the-wool methods.
The good news is you can use them as well and with zero training.
First, how are you doing? Are you able to focus when needed and complete the task at hand? Are you organized and following a plan? Can you recover from inevitable distractions quickly and get back to work?
If you’re not sure you’re playing at the top of your time management game, then these solutions can make a big difference.
I think “open door” policies are stupid. It’s also stupid to check you email first thing in the morning, work without a plan and allow interruptions to rule your day.
That’s why you need Boundaries.
A Boundary is when you are strategically unavailable. Different from a meeting, a Boundary is a time block that reoccurs every day to allow you to work on projects that require your full attention.
My first Boundary is from 5:00 to 7:00AM for writing. No Internet, spell-check, email, or social media—just a big cup of tea and writing. I will either be working on a blog (guess what time I’m writing this), client proposal or speech—most mornings I can crank out 1,000 words.
My next Boundary is 9:15 to 10:30AM. I’m at my office (a 12 minute bike ride from home) and working on 50% of the hardest work on my plate for the day.
And then I have a Boundary from 1:30 to 3:30 for the second 50% of hard work.
Here’s the trick: I don’t worry if it doesn’t happen. It could be I have a client meeting, a speech out of town or I’m meeting someone. Of course, I try to schedule around my Boundaries, but if I can’t protect that time my trick is to return to my routine the next day.
You get ready and are on time for meetings. Right? Why not create a meeting for yourself.
Blocking happens when you create an appointment with yourself for a task that either:
When I get off the phone from a new client I block time on my calendar to interview delegates (invaluable research as a speaker), create handouts, or have a final call with the client.
I also Block time for responding to RFP’s (Request For Proposals), researching for my blog, creating email sequences for upcoming webinars and just thinking.
I’m always a bit surprised how my Pavlovian reaction to seeing a meeting on my calendar (even if I’m not meeting someone) alerts me to get ready to work on that task.
One last point about Blocking time for yourself: my rule is once the Block is created you can’t delete it, only move it.
When I visit my friend’s cabin each summer we chop wood. Nothing like chasing a scrap of wood around the chopping block to keep me happy.
It would be a bit silly for me to announce I’m going to “chop some wood”, proudly return with one stick only to head out 20 minutes later to “chop some more wood.” Instead I Batch.
Batching is a lost art in our age of multitasking and it still works like a damn. When you Batch you complete similar tasks all at once. The most obvious example is your email. That addictive InBox (Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D likens our addiction to email to that of a Vegas slot machine) will suck up every available moment unless you reserve your visits to Batching. Other examples of batching include:
And now for the one power tool that will have the biggest impact on your success—taking Breaks. Don’t underestimate the power of a Break.
New research found that over four hours of sitting a day (between your breakfast, commute, email, social media, TV, Netflix and meetings that’s easy to do) doubles your risk of Type 2 diabetes, obesity and early coronary disease. Got your attention?
The trick is to take Breaks throughout the day, not to wait for that long walk in the evening. Researchers found that exercise after the fact (like going for a long run after work) can’t undo “damage” done while we’re dormant in our chair.
So you have to plan to move at least every 15 minutes. Here’s how:
Boundaries, Blocking, Batching and Breaks – pretty easy hacks to get you productive and moving. What are you going to start with?
“When you feel good about what you did, your brain will change. It will want to do the behavior again in the future. That leads to making the habit stronger.” —B.J. Fogg, Ph.D
Bio: Hugh Culver co-created the world’s most expensive tours (to the South Pole), started five companies, and teaches experts the business of speaking. Read his blog on the business of speaking. Follow him on Twitter @hughculver
The path towards success can be boring. Once you get intently focused on doing something, you start ignoring a lot of the distractions around you. You become less interested in things that waste your time and your energy. Friends might call you on a whim to go do something fun and you’ll end up turning them down because that time was already planned. You have a workout planned. Or you are going to be finishing up the last chapter of your book. Or you were going to be spending quality time with your family.
Focus on these and eliminate anything activity in your life that is not in line with this list. Let other plop themselves in front of the TV. Let everybody go out and get drunk. It may seem like your life is boring. But boring is another word for someone who is damned focused and won’t let anything get in his/her way.
Print this (or something like this) and tape it to your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator, your monitor and your nightstand.Read More
We love to overcomplicate success sometimes. But one of the most successful habits that has helped me over the years is so simple that people can’t believe it possibly works.
It comes down to one word: Movement.
Successful people don’t sit around much . They are always moving or standing or generating motion in some way. Movement has the magical quality of generating more movement and more energy. Whenever you sit down everything in your body wants to relax. Body parts want to fall asleep. When you stand and work your body has no choice but to pump more blood throughout your system to keep you upright. Sitting has always made me more sluggish – especially when I am already tired. But once I stand (like I am right now) my brain starts to go into overdrive with ideas. I’ve even learned that I can get a great Facebook or blog post out faster when I am standing. Whenever I visit spaces where people have to be highly creative, I’m seeing standing desks all over the place. And let’s not even get into the extra calories that you are burning when you are standing and generating even the smallest amount of movement.
Over my four decades I have come to believe that managing our physical health is one of the best things we can do. It is obviously great for the body. But today I am going to talk to you about why it is great for the mind and soul also. Listen to the podcast. Watch the video. And then share your thoughts with me in the comments.
If you desire to live at a higher level you need to become disciplined in three areas of your life: Attention management, energy management and time management.
Take a moment and think about how your day unfolds every day. What actions are you taking from the moment you wake up until you lay your head on your pillow at night. If it is anything like most people your day probably goes on autopilot and looks something like this: