Be BOLD to be productive

Nicholas Bate has a great little book on how to be bold called “Bold 101“. It contains 101 ideas on being bold, on taking the responsibility and make a change, on doing something that’s against status quo, on going the extra mile.
This little book got me to think about being bold in the context of staying productive and getting things done. And I think there is a very close correlation between the two. There is almost infinite amount of things that demand our attention so it’s up to us to fend of the unimportant and focus on what really matters.

There are couple ways you could practice being bold and increase your productivity:

Say “No”

Say “No” to your co-worker, to your boss, to your friends, to annoying sales guy. Say no to things that are not important.

Before taking on anything new qualify the priorities, think whether you can take another project and politely say “no, this isn’t the right moment”.

Some will be surprised, perhaps angry or hurt but it’s your time and attention that you need to manage and protect.

Delegate

Many of us love to be important, to be asked for advise and help, to be needed. It gives our ego this warm and fuzzy feeling. We also like to show off how productive, effective and organised we are, how we can handle dozen of projects and goals all at the same time. But all this is short lived, after a very short time we will get tired and burned out. There is only so much we can handle.

Rather than trying to do everything on your own, find other people that can do the same job better, cheaper and smarter. Perhaps they know a particular system better then you or they are more familiar with complexities of the process. Don’t take everything on your self.

Be BOLD and ask for HELP and pass work to others. I’m sure they will be more than happy to assist.

Remember different people have different talents, let them hone and practice them so they can grow too.

Delete

Each day there is a dozen, perhaps two or even a hundred of messeges land in everyone’s inboxes. How many of those messages are important?

Do you need to read everysingle message even if you’re only cc’d on it?

First of all it’s impossible to review every single one and second of all looking at email all day long is probobliy not on your job spec.

Be BOLD and start deleting stuff you don’t want to see, if it’s not important that don’t bother don’t waste your time.

Seize the project

Are you a member of project team that seems to stall and lost it’s impetus? For weeks noting has been going on with this project you’ve worked for months or even worse the person supposedly driving it is running around in circles and can’t decide what to do next.

It’s perfect opportunity to be BOLD and take the leadership.

Use the GTD’s 5 stages of planning a project to define the successful outcome, outline the plan and necessary actions. Then either present to project sponsor or simply start implementing.

Conclusion

Being BOLD sometimes  have negative association for being rude, obnoxious and totally out of line. You can see it that way but there are better ways too look at it too. Being BOLD is making a statement taking responsibility and doing what’s right and not what’s the easiest.

If you want to lear more about how to be bold definitely routinely visit Nicholas Bate blog. Highly recommended.

Avoiding time inflation

Lifestyle inflation is a concept whereby any increase in the income is spend on consumption rather than saved or invested for the future.
A very similar conclusion can be made to managing time. Something I call time inflation can be applied to your day. The main premise is that any extra time you get due to canceled meetings, calls etc is wasted on checking email or browsing the internet.

Continuing with such approach is not most effective way to use the time available. after all once it’s gone it’s gone.  There are three basic factors that contribute to such situation yet they can be easily overturned.

No plan

Very often we don’t plan our days so if we get unexpected window of time we don’t know what to do with it. If next meeting is in 2 hours and nothing interesting showed up to do it’s easy to quickly check the web, look at email, twitter etc.

To counter that make sure you have a list of small tasks you can accomplish in 15minutes or less. Any time something get canceled or delayed look at that list and see what you can do. Also make sure that your list is updated regularly.

No habit of checking master task list

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? You can start thinking of all the different things you could do but that will waste more of your time. Rather than come up with different tasks, it’s best to refer to your master list and select something to complete.

If your don’t have a habit of looking at your list one way to develop one is to surround yourself with few different reminders. You can stick a not on your monitor saying “check master list”, you can also set up reoccuring appointments in your calendar prompting you to check the master list.

No master list to work from

Where do you keep your tasks are they scattered around on dozen sticky notes, different files or notebooks? How do you know which is the one most up to date?

In order to make your work easier create a single list of all your tasks. This way there is only one place to refer to and it’s always easy to find something to focus on. If you want more granularity categorize your tasks based on few criteria that fit your workflow. This may include time needed, energy, location etc. Once in place your master list will make it easy for you to get stuff done and not to lose any tasks.

Best ideas from “Eat that frog” book

Eat that frog by Brian Tracy is one of the classic books on time management, personal productivity and effectiveness. Although it has been published quite a few years ago it still contains a lot very useful and practical advice. This also means that despite the progress in technology, systems basic work problems like getting things done, focusing on important items, achieving goal hasn’t been resolved. Therefore this week I wanted to share a selection of the best tips and ideas from the book which you could use to become more effective and get more done.

Plan every day in advance

Planning every day is one the single most effective techniques you could use to ensure consistent progress, yet it remains one of the most underutilized or ignored. Tracy points out that every minute spend planning saves up to 10 minutes in execution. Whether this is correct or not planning your day a night before is definitely very effective and powerful technique. You may be put of by the required time to completed a daily plan but if you look at up close it isn’t that difficult or time consuming. Simply in your last 15 minutes of the work day pull out pen and paper and your master task list. Then select few tasks which are really important to you and write them down on paper. I try to complete my plan each day and I find that selecting 3-5 items is really enough. Less than that won’t be challenging nor satisfying and more that will be cause of disappointment of too many unexpected things pop up. Lastly once you’re done with your list put it on top of your keyboard or screen so it’s the first thing you see in the morning.

Apply 80/20 rule

If you are looking for a way to establish what’s important and what brings most of the effects 80/20 rule should clear a lot of things. In its basic form principle says that 20% of activities will amount to 80% of outcomes regardless of the area and context it’s measured. To take that further 80% of your time is spend on activities that yield only 20% of results. This may sound quite depressing. So how do you leverage the 80/20 principle in your favour. establish your key result areas – what really important? establish your 20% most impact tasks projects – what are the projects which yield most return? start your day by focusing on your 20% high impact tasks – see daily planning above look out for activities that 80% that consume your time and bring very little value.

Take one item at a time

People used to take pride in ability to multitask which seemed like a perfect skill for solving all problems of more work and less time. Unfortunately this strategy creates more problems that in actually solves. Constant tasks switching can cost you up to 5 times in time necessary to complete a task. To avoid that, first select one action and work on it until it’s done. If you lose focus and put your attention somewhere else try to get back to the original task and attempt to finish it. Repeat the process until done.
To assist with that try to remove or reduce distractions. Turn of the email, internet, send calls to voicemail.

Create large chunks of time

Majority of important work requires a large uninterrupted time to complete. Whether you work on a presentation or write a report it will not be possible to finish it in an hour. In order to take advantage of those large chunks of time set up your day so that you plan them above other things. Use your calendar to block sufficient amount of time, then eliminate distractions and get to work. Before you start make sure you have a clear indication of tasks which you want to accomplish during that session. Alternative method is to refer to your project plan and start working in the next set of tasks.

Slice and dice bigger tasks

Are you familiar with a question, how do you eat an elephant? The answer is one bite a time. The same applies to large tasks and projects. As mentioned above big and importat things usually take time to accomplish. It’s not always easy to see the end. To begin slicing your big project start with a list of all possible tasks you will have to do in order to take the project to successful completion. Then select one task and work on it. Each completed task will help you satisfy the need of making progress and seeing some results.

Eat that FROG

Lets be honest work does not comprise of only interesting and cool projects and tasks. Very often we need to deal with the boring, unpleasant and downright pointless activities. The simplest strategy to deal with such thing is to do it first thing in the morning. Do it quickly and move to something else.

Prepare before you begin

Very often we start working on something only to realise that we were going in the wrong direction or missing some key tools, people or skills to accomplish it. Tracy suggest that before you embark on something big make sure you have everything you need at hand. Setup your work area so that it will support completing the tasks. If you’re writing a report make sure you have the research and the necessary data. Also to avoid distraction clear off the stuff you don’t need for this task leave only what’s necessary. If your mind happens to wander off there will be fewer things to put your attention on. My own suggestion is to always make a plan before. This ways you have a clearer picture of what you want and what needs to be accomplished. My preferred method of planning is to use mind maps. If you prefer a more ordered approach simple outline will do the trick as well. You can read about my favourite software here.

“Eat that frog” is a little book packed with many practical ideas and techniques for improving your personal effectiveness and productivity. If you’re looking for something that will give a bunch of different tips in a bite sized form this book is definitely one to check.

Getting up early

Getting up early and doing something important is one of the best ways to have a productive and successful day. Michael Wade shares a list of some activities that people do when they get up early.  Yet the more interesting part covers things that people don’t do or don’t see as a priority activity:

  • Checking e-mail
  • Making phone calls
  • Reviewing the previous day

 

What’s yours morning priority?

Weekly Links for 24th of October

A weekly collection of posts and articles about productivity, time management, tools and technology.

If you have any interesting articles please share them in the comments section.

Weekly Links for 22 August

A weekly collection of posts and articles about productivity, time management, tools and technology.

  1. Mind Like Monkey: It’s not that you don’t have the discipline—it’s that you don’t have the ritual
  2. Stop the Madness Before its too Late
  3. Why Working From Your Email Inbox Doesn’t Work
  4. 10 Realizations For Productivity & Pushing Ideas Forward
  5. Finding Time

If you have any interesting articles please share them in the comments section.

Weekly links for 28th March

A collection of posts and articles about productivity, time management, tools and technology.

  1. Finding Your Work Sweet Spot: Genuine Interest, Skills & Opportunity
  2. Why Working From Your Email Inbox Doesn’t Work
  3. Can a 5-minute exercise double your productivity?
  4. Better Time Management Is Not the Answer
  5. Why Hard Work Isn’t Such a Good Idea

If you have any interesting articles please share them in the comments section.

Weekly Links 21st March

A collection of posts and articles about productivity, time management, tools and technology.

  1. Better Time Management Is Not the Answer
  2. Nancy’s Talk from TEDxEast: You Can Change the World
  3. Authors@Google: Garr Reynolds
  4. 7 Habits, Getting Things Done and now, Personal Kanban
  5. 10 Productivity-Enhancing Apps from the Chrome Web Store

If you have any interesting articles please share them in the comments section.