How to Craft Your Hybrid Productivity Strategy

How to craft your hybrid productivity strategy

 

If you google productivity, millions of pages appear. Listed are strategies that give you systems and processes for your productivity based on that author’s experiences. What stands out to me is that while I appreciate each of these approaches and systems, it’s really about reviewing what has worked for me and the hybrid system I created to fit my personal approach.

 

To improve productivity, start reviewing your work processes.

We are surveyed all the time, when we purchase online and when we go to the doctor. What about  a review of your work processes? What do you give high marks and what needs improvement?

Here’s questions to ask yourself?

  • What time of day do I work best?
  • What’s the best tool I use to capture information?
  • What’s my best modality (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, intuitive, cognitive) to capture and create information?
  • When do I organize my week?
  • What do I use to organize my week?

Asking yourself these questions helps you refine your system and ensures that your tools work for you.

 

To improve your work processes, think big.

There are tons of productivity methods available. A productivity process give you agility in capturing, managing and executing commitments, communications, and information at a specific time. Here’s a round up of options.

Getting Things Done (GTD): GTD is a method for organizing your to-dos, priorities, and your schedule in a way that makes them all manageable.

The SMART Method: Setting SMART Goals to help you prioritize. 

Timeboxing: Converting from a to-do list (daily work plan) to a calendar system

Personal Kanban: Simple system for creating products based on continuous deliveries.

Pomodoro Technique: An alternating series of 25-minute “Pomodoro habit” sessions can help you quickly complete tasks and get things done in a streamlined fashion

Free to Focus: A system to achieve more by doing less

Does one of these mesh with your existing system? Would one of these add to your system or simplify your system? Is there one small step you can change for your system? It’s likely that either simplifying or adding one small step is all the changes you will need or want to make immediately. That’s why I refer to our systems as hybrids, in that we take what works already that we created an add in a mix of other strategies.

 

To improve your work processes, make your routines solid then find the best tools to enhance.

We’re often to quick to think, there’s an app for that! And there may be an app or other product that will help us be more productive. It’s in spending time with completely syncing your process that’s the most important step before finding the tool.

 

Here’s what works for me. I have the master list written by category. I add to my master list all the time, from work spreadsheets, work appointments, family activities, email, and text.  The paper list is at the top of my planner pad.  Weekly I check the lists and add tasks to days of the week. Throughout the year I have added important milestones and appointments. All these appointments work together, including delegating, automating and setting time aside for family.  In my process I have combined GTD, Timeboxing and Free to Focus.  See what works for you now and how to improve on your system.

 

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Spring Organizing Office Edition

 

Spring organizing office

 

Offices and office spaces continual to evolve as more of our work becomes digital.  There’s lot of digital decluttering to do as a result.  This Spring more your office forward to become more electronically  organized.

 

Edit first

All offices are busy and it’s a low priority to eliminate digital clutter.  Start a 15 minute daily edit of digital clutter.  Look first at email, then documents.  In multiple 15 minute time slots you can pare down what is not needed. Now assess your duplicate documents and drafts. You can add these to trash to clear space and clear up confusion of the final document.

 

Attend to your desk top

We’re talking computer desk top here!  Add documents into folders and eliminiate any extra icons. There’s clarity here now.  Add a beautiful and serene screen saver for you to see when you are disconnected.

 

Graphics organizing

If you are a social media maven, it’s your graphics that can also need refreshing.  Use a content driven organizing system.  Group your graphics and photos by topic in your pictures to easily access and use your items.

 

Unsubscribe to unwanted

You may have once wanted to learn about a topic, and now you are saturated with email subscriptions. Take 15 minutes to unsubscribe rather than delete your unwanted subscriptions.  Less incominng newsletters free up time.  If you don’t want to let go of these, or incoming coupons, create an additional email account to directly access this when wanted.

 

Update your passwords

We change our passwords, hoping to remember then each time.  Update your password keeper in order to easily log on.  Change passwords if it’s been a while for sensitive sites.  Now log in on all your devices so that you have access from your smart phone or tablet.

 

Control the cords

Technology advances quickly.  It’s time to recycle your older devices and cords. Gather these together with the cords to donate.  Label the remaining cords to know what goes together. Store the cords at point of use in a drawer if used frequently or in a box under a cabinet if not.

Now you and your office are ready for a productive Spring!

 

 

 

Still cluttered in there with paper?  Here’s where to get started!

 

 

How Goals, Calendar and Schedule Alignment Work for You

How goals, calendars and schedule alignment works for you

 

Tire alignment, also known as wheel alignment, can help your tires perform properly and help them last longer. It can also improve handling and keep your vehicle from pulling in one direction or vibrating strangely.  

 

It’s clear that tire alignment helps you save money and time.  How might alignment work for us when we are talking about productivity?  When your goals, calendar and schedule are aligned, it helps you with your performance.  That performance is getting tasks and projects completed with less stress and more joy.  When your life is in alignment, you are feeling the bonus of work life integration.  Just how do we accomplish alignment when our life seems out of kilter?

 

Check your goals first

Review your current calendar to align your goals and your actions. Is what’s on your current calender reflecting your annual or quarterly goals?  Do you see a direct connection to what your responsibilities are each month and week?  Are there times for self care and relationship building?  Knowing how close you are already to alignment will be a guidepost for you.

Write out your best week

As you look over your calendar, you may be dismayed to see disjointed and disconnected dates and activities.  Take a whole new look at your week with a best week calendar. Michael Hyatt refers to this as your “ideal week.”  This is setting yourself up for success to know what this looks like.  With a blank calendar start with filling in what are your priorities.  Parallel your plans with consistent routines for similar activities.  That would be exercising every morning at 6 am, working with clients starting every day at 10 am, and hosting meetings at 2 pm.  See what new awareness comes from this exercise.

It’s going to take time to get your best week aligned with your current week so start small. What tweaks can you put in place?  Where are there options to create alignment? What if you have no control over your goals, deadlines or tasks?  Here’s where to talk to your team and seek out solutions together.

 

Keep aware of where alignment can occur

Changes are naturally occurring on a regular basis. A client ends, a new project starts, or a new boss comes on the scene.  When you seek improved alignment, that’s when you take advantage of a shift.   Look for where new possibilities are happening. Let’s say your 10 am Monday meeting shifts to 2 pm on Tuesday.  Now you can place your high quality work on Monday mornings instead.  Another option is to schedule shorter more frequent meetings at a lower energy time.

 

Is perfect alignment possible?

There is not necessarily that you are seeking perfect alignment as there are changes occuring regularly. What you are working toward is every improving alignment for yourself. There’s also random tasks, especially administrative tasks, that are part of your week.   If you can batch adminstrative tasks to be more productive about these.

 

Remember that for tire alignment, a periodic check is required.  Use your Strategic Planning to continually assess your goals, and then assess your alignment. What you will find as the most powerful benefit is that you are feeling more on top of your goals as a result.

 

 

4 Foundations for Productivity

 

4 foundations for productivity

 

Set yourself up for maximizing your productivity. There are foundational aspects that create the structure to maximize your time and prioritize the tasks.  These include tools and strategies that create a basis for doing your best work.   Here’s the 4 ways to create a foundation for exceptional productivity.

 

Capture all together

If you have post it notes, random scraps, several notebooks and a lot in your head, it’s likely you need a specific capture tool and a capture time.  A capture tool is where all your projects, tasks and ideas are recorded.  It’s tempting to keep it all in your head however it’s not effective.  Decide what’s the best, paper, digital or a hybrid, to capture these elements.

Capture time is the time you are recording.  There’s many ways that can work for you. ASAP is a great strategy, as well as at the beginning and end of the day. Capture by notes, with a voice activated device, or any means that makes this easy. A capture time once a week, with a high level of view of your work, keeps tasks from being overlooked.  I call this weekly planning time.

 

Assessing time

Determining how much time a task or project takes can be the biggest challenge to productivity. It takes practice with the same tasks as well as a knowledge of your strengths and skills.  Break your task into the simplest step and give this your best guess. Then multiply that time by three.  Time yourself as you complete the task and review your success.

 

Assign work times

Completing a project on time, whether it’s taxes or client work, is a true test of productivity. Look at how you structured your weeks, months and quarters. Be sure to schedule chunks of time to work or give yourself an entire day to complete your tasks.  Either way, you know that you can be sure to finish for your deadline.  Remember,  a task that has no time assigned on a calendar is not a task. It’s a wish!

Control the distractions after your assigned work periods.  That’s dificult and necessary.  Those distractions indicate you have lost momentum and energy.  If you find yourself scrolling through Facebook instead of working, take a break, get a drink of water or move your work time to another time of day.

 

Match work and energy

Work when you work best.  Use your lower energy time for when you do less important work. Know your chronotype to do your best work. If you are morning person, get to work on the important stuff first before checking email.  Come back around to work again after dinner if you have an energy spurt. bove all, the best foundation to productivity is rest and rejuvenation. Time away from work, time being creative and time to sit all contribute to being more effective.

 

The best foundation for productivity includes a plan.  Plan for planning time, however your plan should not be too specific and too detailed.  Your plan should be a work flow, incorporating some routines that keep your productivity high.  Complicated, hour by hour planning can be too much to accomplish.

 

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How to Prioritize the Most Important Task

Prioritizing

 

Prioritizing. It’s one of the hardest aspects of time management.  You set aside time to get important work done, and now what to do?  Here are 5 ways of determining what to do first when you are ready to get to work.

 

One thing

If you could choose just one thing that makes the biggest difference in your day at home or work, what would that be? That’s the essence of prioritizing and knowing the one thing that you can do each day. On the opposite hand, what is the one thing that if you did NOT do it, that your day would go awry?  Either perspective helps you prioritize what to choose that is the most important part of your work.

 

Getting Things Done (GTD) lists

GTD starts with a mind sweep and writing everything down. You divide the list into current projects and someday/maybe projects.  Then your list is grouped by the places you work will be accomplished. That can be at the computer, at a meeting, anywhere and errands.  Finally you add the single next step to each of these actions.  GTD helps you prioritize by knowing where you do your work and knowing the one next step to accomplish that task or project.

 

Mindmapping

For non-linear thinkers, here’s a way to find your priority.  There’s not always a start or end, it’s a context within the work itself.  A mind map helps you write down ideas, link tasks that support that goal and then prioritize. By creating a context of what work needs to be accomplished and knowing the many different directions that are possible, you can focus on where you are in the task and project.

 

The Painted Picture

Getting things done is not the same as getting the right things done. To do this, Brian Scudamore  uses his “Painted Picture” strategy.  Keep the big picture in mind with the top third of your capture tool, then below add quadrants for quarterly, monthly and weekly.  Select just 3 tactics that align with this goal and your projects are outlined for completion.

 

Choose the one thing you never get started

Intuitively you know what to do and you never get to it. That’s the priority for you.  It’s when you have procrastinated and let tasks lapse, you know it’s time to get started.

 

How to accomplish prioritizing also depends on setting up your weekly routines to follow through.   Set up a weekly planning time to establish a big picture view that allows you to establish priorities.  That weekly planning time also gives you the opportunity to match your weekly tactics with your calendar.

 

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How to Create More Work Life Integration

 

Work life integration

 

It’s often said no one wished they had worked more.  Living the life you imagine is about working smarter, playing harder and being with those who are most important.   As we assess just how to accomplish this, we seek solutions to creating more work life integration on a consistent basis.

 

Dig deep: prioritize what is a part of work and life

To start with, you have to cull priorities.  Everything just can’t be equally important. We can have times where priorities alternate, what I call “seasons”.  For each part of the year these priorities can change.  Most likely fall is about getting back to work and routines. Spring is about lightening up your work schedule. Summer is about having fun.  As we seek out priorities for our lives, keep these to your top 3.  That sounds small and insignificant, however it’s what can be accomplished.

 

Engage in weekly planning time

That endless list running in your head? It’s time to capture it and calendar it. Your list and your calendar are your best friends for truly engaging productively.  Meet with yourself on Sunday afternoon to Integrate all the work and life activities for the week.  It’s a well spent hour to assign realistically what you can accomplish.

Set boundaries into motion

Wow, it’s hard to set boundaries and keep them! These intentional boundaries include non-negotiable times that keep your work life in balance.  It’s getting to the gym routinely, setting times to gather with your family, and getting a good night’s rest regularly.

Here’s where interference plays a roll.  Set up boundaries for technology. That’s no tech in the bedroom, after 10 pm or at the dinner table. That rule applies to us all including parents.

 

Set aside time for fun

Fun is not going to happen accidentally in our busy lives.  Setting aside time for fun, game night with your kids, a Sunday bike ride, or knitting a scarf, are all what we can use weekly.  Laughing brings out some of our best qualities and feelings.

Repeat

Work life integration is far from a one and done activity. It’s a daily pursuit.  Give yourself the opportunity to feel good and do well at keeping important personal priorities aligned. It’s always a work in progress. That’s when you know that you are achieving work life integration.

How to End your Work Day Productively

How to end your work day

 

It’s well past 6 pm and your family is waiting for you. Your paper and digital inboxes are still overflowing.  You don’t feel like you have accomplished your goals for the day.  It’s time to close down and rejuvenate for the next day. Take the last 30 minutes of your day to successfully end your work day.

 

End your day with a mind sweep

Be true to your productivity plan with a mind sweep at the end of the day. Much information has come in so capture it.  By keeping it in a trust spot like your paper or digital tool, you know you can come back to it with a fresh perspective, place it in a time line, and work with others.  With the fatigue of the end of the day, giving ideas a holding spot help you.

 

End your day with your Most Important Tasks

Jump start and front load tomorrow with your 3 Most Important Tasks.  It’s a head start to the work of tomorrow.  Not sure what the 3 MITs for tomorrow are you? Write down where you are leaving off in a project you worked on today.

 

End your work day with by freshening up your environment

Freshen up your desk, computer and work space at the end of the day. Not unlike an artist, even though you are returning to this spot tomorrow to continue, a cleared desk brings you a blank canvas.  It’s sort of what our parents always reminded us, to pick up and put away at the end of the day.  If doubt this, try it for a week. It’s like making your bed.

 

Creative ways to end your day

  • Set an alarm with a special sound or music to herald the end of the work day.
  • End your day an hour earlier to pack your work into a smaller time frame. Your work expands to fit the time you give it. Give your work less time and give yourself more time.
  • Travel by public transportation and give yourself a deadline to get on that bus or train.
  • Give yourself a reward as you return home. Listen to an audio book, podcast or music you love.

 

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How to Start your Work Day

How to start your work day

 

It’s 9 am and time to get to work!  You grab your planner, you sit at your computer and you start your work.  Not quite!  Not surprisingly it often takes a warm up of sorts to get started. A warm up prepares you to do the work you intend.  It’s not only motivation. It’s also at times physical and cognitive acts that prepare us to do our best work.  What does that look like to warm up?  Here’s some possibilities of how to start your work day.

 

Self care start to your day

With so many possibilities, perhaps a self care warm up will suit your need to clear your mind and focus on work.  There’s several ways the self care focus appears to us.  Many of my clients start their days with meditation.   Spending time in meditation offers the benefits of lowered stress, greater focus and clarity.  Another choice is a spiritual start to your day, including a bible reading or prayer time. Getting in touch with God helps us align our thoughts with our spirituality.  A physical self care warm up incudes drinking a glass of water, taking any medications, exercising, and eating protein.  Your self care warm up might be also called your routine for starting your day.

 

List making start to your day

As part of the strategy of Getting Things Done (GTD), there’s always a mind sweep.  It’s how we clear our thoughts and capture them.  A list is a great way to start your day and clear your mind to prepare to start real work.  Simply writing down all your thoughts in a capture tool either paper or digital helps give you clarity.

Now what about all those thoughts and ideas?  This is when we must prioritize.  We can’t and should not do everything on the list.  It’s our priorities that rise to the top for our work.  I call these Most Important Tasks (MITs).  If you want to start your work quickly the next day, write out your MITs at the close of your work day in preparation for the next day’s work.

 

Verbal processing to start your day

Team up with a partner for a short conversation to start your day.  Many of us are verbal processors, meaning that in talking through a thought we can become clear on next steps.  It’s also a great tool to remind us where we are, what our thoughts are, and our current task.    A short team meeting can help you start your work day with priorities.

 

Creative ways to start your day

In my conversations with clients, here’s a list of ways they have decided to start their work day.

  • Start your day by drawing or writing on a white board.  A mind map, a picture or an icon can be the visual start for your work day.  Use this big space to be creative and connect your thoughts.
  • A quick morning shower where ideas percolate.  Capture your ideas with a waterproof voice recorder.
  • Don’t hold back. Start. Then assess after the first hour what you have accomplished from yesterday’s list.
  • Do the babiest of baby steps to a big goal.  Chunk your list into manageable steps over the time of a week.
  • Create a metric. Determine a measure of what you want to accomplish in a certain amount of time.

 

Once you know how to start your work day, create a daily routine that empowers this.  Write it down, share it with your colleagues, and tweak it as you work.

 

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In honor of Get Organized (and Be Productive) Month

2019 goals

 

January is our National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals Get Organized and Be Productive Month! It’s when we as professionals share tips, tricks and tech for you to gain momentum all year long.

 

This month I am introducing a weekly series to be more productive. Follow along each week as I share routines that make your life easier, smoother, more organized and more productive! Take just one tip and use it consistently to make this your most organized and productive year every!

Keeping Extra Organized and Productive throughout the Holiday Season

 


 

Holidays add extra to our lives.  Whether it’s extra fun, extra work, or extra time,  there’s much more to think about and do.  When you are running on extra everything, keeping extra organized and productive this holiday season are critical.

 

Extra rest

We don’t think of extra rest at this time of year.  How can you add extra rest with an earlier bedtime?  Perhaps it’s an extra nap that is needed?  Think first of how to add extra rejuvenation to your week.

 

Extra help

It’s as simple as buying the cookie tray rather than making a dozen cookies.  Get extra help this season in any way you can, from food prep, home cleaning and extra hugs.   You will appreciate having this bonus.

 

Extra planning time

Schedules get criss-crossed this time of year.  There are multiple simultaneous events.  Be sure you double and triple check your plans and planner.  You will be happy to know what is planned by capturing it on your device or on paper.

 

Extra spiritual time

Holidays are about a greater meaning.  Keep the joy of the season in more than sprit by devoting time to devotion.   That can be reading, prayer, or meditation time for you as you seek the meaning of this time of year.

 

Extra work scheduling

The end of the year may be a big wrap up time for projects.  Schedule extra time to do a solid wrap up of what you have worked on this year.  Take extra time to let go of extra drafts and extra paper.

 

Wishing you EXTRA joy this holiday season!