I’ve been spending a significant amount of time whilst convalescing listening to The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, where he interviews a host of celebrities, venture capitalists, mindfulness gurus, technical wizards and CEOs. What do they have in common and why does he do it? Well, for a full answer, check out his blog – http://fourhourworkweek.com/ – but my short version is that he is mining for habits and aptitudes that successful people have, and trying to present them as possible avenues of self-improvement to us all.
In this post, I’m going to share what I have gleaned and found useful.
The first tip I found really useful was to organise email. Rather than allowing email to dictate my day, by setting my priorities for me, I have turned off instant notifications (no more bleeps or pop-up notifications when an email arrives). I have also set up auto-responders indicating that I’m checking email only twice a day. This leads directly to either the request being sent to someone else or a phone call in urgent cases. I then check email only after 9am, when I’ve already taken on the task I prioritised for myself the previous evening. Thanks Tim – my inbox has reduced markedly.
Next up, prioritising for myself. I end the day with a thought for tomorrow’s agenda, and identify what I absolutely want to achieve to feel that I have had some measure of success with my day. This allows me to address things I didn’t get to today, and ensures that my day and productivity do not get sidetracked by somebody else’s emergency.
Habits. I have downloaded the app Productive which allows you to enter habits you wish to establish, reminders at preset moments during the day and (for those so motivated) motivational ‘rewards’ for completing habits on time and consistently. I’ve used it to set mindfulness moments – more in another post – and a mini-goal of 50 words per day. (A little digression – mini-habits are habits so small and ridiculously achievable, that they don’t threaten us and lead to failure…an example would be setting the goal of 50 push-ups a day vs one push up a day. One is so easy, that it can develop into a fully formed habit, before defeating itself…and one push-up, once you’re there, quickly becomes 5 or 10. You can read more about this here.)
Tech can be a great tool to use in increasing productivity – it can also be a trojan horse in inviting in more time-consuming gadgetry which is actually doing very little good. So I’m cutting back on apps I don’t use regularly. I use Evernote and Dropbox, and wouldn’t be without either. I use Slack for project management, and so far find it a brilliant tool. But I’ve dropped Penultimate, which is admittedly very sexy and cool, as I actually haven’t been using since buying it. The verdict is still out on iCloud – I suspect it’s days are numbered.