Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Write it down

I have found that as a result of not remembering anything, I have to enter the information immediately or I will forget it. I have found that there are times when I can't record a task into Asana. Be it bad internet or my phone is dead. I record things on in some medium until I can input that data into Asana. Paper, a journal (I almost always have my journal), or even a reminder in Google. If I don't write it down I know it will be lost.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why you shouldn't remember anything, ever!

I stopped trying to remember anything about 3 years ago and it is the best thing that I have ever done. There are things that everyone needs to remember but we try to retain everything for no apparent reason.
Memory is deceptive because it is colored by today's events. -Albert Einstein
I have a process of regular tasks that I have set to recur on a regular basis. This keeps my processes optimized. This also allows me to not remember any of the mundane tasks, as long as they are necessary.

These regular tasks also give my mind the freedom to think up new ideas and solutions to my current problems. I address freeing brain ram in a previous post. I have listed my regular project list below, and I will go into each of these in more detail.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to Empty Your Inbox by Tomorrow

In this post we are going to discuss email management. I know many people that have trouble having a zero inbox without obsessively checking their email. I personally had an inbox with over 25,000 new messages. You read that correctly 25k+ inbox. If I can get out of such a huge number of new emails, I believe you can too. To achieve this you will need to follow these simple steps.

Step 1. Create a folder structure
The first thing we need to do is create a structure to handle all the email that we will be dealing with. I have a very simple structure, because anything too complex becomes convoluted quickly. I try to use an email system that has a good search function. This will reduce the number of folders that are needed. I have slightly different structures for work and personal. At work, because I have Outlook and it has a very basic search function, I have 3 main folders.  I have laid out the structure below.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Plan Each Day

I have found that if I jump into my day without any planning I get to the end of the day not really accomplishing very much. Keeping yourself busy is not the same as accomplishing the goals you set for the day.  I recommend taking 5-10 minutes at the beginning of the day and planning out everything that you plan on addressing that day. Don't pack your day too full, otherwise you will have to move things to that next day and that is bad for your psyche.

The two tasks that are the most important in my day are planning and selecting goals.

The first thing that I do each day is plan my day. This allows me to integrate anything that is on my calendar that is time specific in to the tasks list so that is have everything in one place. This also gives me a handle on what needs to be done that day.

Once all my appointments have been integrated, I pick a few tasks that I need to do that are not yet on the list for today. This would come from other projects in my Asana list.

By planning each day you will be able to more effectively take on whatever life throws at you.

To your success.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Time for a Change

Today I am going to talk about making changes when necessary and know when that time is. If you have ever been in the position where you are getting frustrated with little things that later you regret this guide may help you.

Knowing when to change

The hardest part of knowing when to make a change is being able to take that step back and analyze your current situation. If you don't do this on a regular basis here are some warning signs. You:

  1. Have an extremely short fuse.
  2. Are not moving towards your goals
  3. Don't have goals
  4. Stopped caring
  5. Start loathing doing the things your doing on a daily basis
Something to keep in mind here is if these get extreme it can be a sign of depression.* Don't get depressed, but it may be time to make a change if any of these start to surface. Changing things up will make you feel better, make you more productive and the people around you will start to take notice.

Making the change

Once you have identified that you need to make a change you will need to set up a system so that you can make the change successfully. The system that I use is three main parts. This includes a support system, a way of measuring the goal and what will be the reward when you have achieve the goal. The support system is the most important part, make this a priority when you make that decision.

I hope this helps you become better at managing time.

To your Success.

*I am not a medical doctor and do not claim to correct, cure, or otherwise treat depression. If you think you are depressed please seek medical attention immediately.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Brain Ram

I have found that people that are stressed get that way because they are trying to use more RAM than they have. If you are not familiar with RAM, it is the memory in your computer that is stores things that you are working on currently. Think of this as the top of your desk in your office.

The problem is that most people try to remember everything. This would be the equivalent or trying to keep everything on your computer open without storing anything on the hard drive. The office analogy of the hard drive is the filing cabinet. In your office you probably have files that you store in your filing cabinet keeping until you are talking to a client, or need to reference a particular file. Most people would do the same digitally, save the file on your hard drive for later access. Most people, however, do not do this for there brain.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Close Open Loops

Over the past week, I have closed various open loops that I have had open for 13 months. Closing these open loops has opened up a huge amount of mental ram, and eliminated a substantial amount of stress. I didn't really think that it was weighing on me all that much until I closed them and was doing more with less effort than before, things just seemed easier and I was completing them faster. The human mind is similar to a computer, the more ram you have available the faster and more responsive it will be.

I encourage everyone to close as many loops as possible this week. Post in the comments how this helped or didn't help you. If you do this I can promise you at the very least you will have a sense of completion and reduced stress.

To your success.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Using Time Management Tools: Pomodoro Technique

I have previously suggested the use of a tool, Pomodoro Daisuki. Unfortunately, this tool is no longer available. My thoughts on why this occurred are provided at the end of this article.  However, due to the removal of this tool, I have not yet vetted a suitable replacement at this time.

Regardless of what you call this method of managing your time, it is very effective. The Basic premise is that you do sprints with your time broken out over 30 minutes. The order should be 25 minutes in a pomodoro, and 5 minutes to break. After 4 cycles you should take another 15 minute break.

Pomodoro I - 25 minutes
Break - 5 minutes
Pomodoro II - 25 minutes
Break - 5 minutes
Pomodoro III - 25 minutes
Break - 5 minutes
Pomodoro IV - 25 minutes
Break - 5+15 minutes

This will take you through 2:15 and 4 can be preformed in a typical 9 hour day with a 1 hour lunch. A few

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Create Time

I'm not referring to the becoming a time traveler. Or creating a device that can take you back in time,
although if you do we should talk. I am actually referring to creating time by making other parts of your life take less time or by not taking on another project.

Life is a very short journey. I understand that sometimes you need to pack as much in as possible, but sometimes you need to enjoy it. Do not start on a new project as soon so you complete the current

Monday, August 19, 2013

Using Time Management Tools: Asana

This week I am going to discuss the use of the time management tool Asana. I am not compensated by them in anyway, although I do feel like I am selling it sometime when people ask me about what I am using for a time management tool.

Asana is a tool that essentially manages the tasks that you have to do on a daily basis. I have found that to-do software have a large variation from too simple (where you do feel you can organize the tasks well) to too complex (where you need to spent a great deal of time figuring out how to add a task and make sure you can find it again later).  I have found that Asana has that good mix between simple and complex.

I use Asana to basically write down anything that I am thinking about that is not contributing to my current line of thinking. If I am working on a project and a thought pops into my head regarding a project, I throw it into Asana. This way I am not focusing on the new idea, but it is recorded somewhere so that I can let it go until the appropriate time.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Don't Control Time, Manage it

I have found that no matter how much I work to get better at time management I hit a wall and feel like I have everything under control. I also know that in the universe nothing is ever standing still.

 If you are not growing you are dying. So I push myself to try and revisit things I feel I have a good grasp on to see if any improvement can be made. I find if I don't push myself, life pushes back and I lose my footing. I found a great quote on this concept by Mario Andretti.
"If everything's under control, you're just not going fast enough!" -Mario Andretti

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Declutter to Make Time

I know that in my life, clutter can lead to increased stress, losing things, and feeling of chaos. The best way to alleviate these issues are to declutter your life. I read a great article on this earlier this week and I want to share some of the better points.  The full article can be found here, and some of these methods are variations of David Allen's Getting Things Done.


The hardest part is getting started.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

10 Time Management Tips That Work

I have read many books, blogs, articles, attended seminars and have studied the art of time management and it is an on going process.

I came across this article in entrepreneur magizine, the whole article can be found here.

I found this article to be less informative than many.  I want your opinion, because if I am becoming cynical that is a different matter. I do not want to approach any article disparagingly. So any input would be great.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Use these 2 Tools

This week's post we will be discussing  more tools to use as part of managing time. The original post discussing tools can be found here. The tool that I use the most often and is available to any user that is able to read this post. This tool is the bookmark. I know that it seems like a basic tool that you may not have used in years. It may also be something that you use all the time.

I find that the bookmark is the most crucial tool, that probably gets the least amount of recognition. I use bookmarks often, and they have become extremely helpful during times that I am in an energy low as we discussed in a previous post. The biggest reason they help me in these lows is because having a bookmark allows me to get to a site with as little thought as possible. The use of bookmarks also help me waste little time. I have categorized my bookmarks into the projects I am currently working on and information that I access often.

Another very helpful tool is the use of Google Profiles,  I know that many of you may not be using Chrome, however if you do use google accounts these can be added to chrome so that you can compartmentalize your worlds.  I have one for work and one for play.  This allows for separation of work searches, docs, gmail and drive (at the time of this writing, Google Drive forces you to log out and log back in to access drive of a different account if you don't use profiles).  This also lets me keep my bookmarks associated with my work and personal browsers.

If you have any tools that you use, please share in the comments

I hope this has helped you.  Please leave your comments, and suggestions.

To your success

Friday, July 19, 2013

Productively Waste Time

If you are like me you find that there are highs and lows in your day.  Our energy levels fluctuate or oscillate regardless of the food we eat and the amount of exercise we get.  Although eating well and exercise do allow us to stay at the highs for longer, but that is a different discussion. This is not a results of our being lazy or something wrong that needs to be fixed.  I believe that is just a natural part of the human physiology, and should not be changed but adjusted to in our actions.

Now, we cannot eliminate this behavior, but we can find ways to make it more productive. The first thing that needs to happen to make this process more effective is to know when you naturally have your highs and lows.  The best way to do this is to write down everything that you did yesterday.  This should include relaxing, working on a project, transporting the children, planing meals for the week, commuting to work, everything.  You will notice that you get alot of things done in chunks, and then you will see that little is done during other times.  These are going to be your highs and lows, and they can fluctuate, so monitoring them over a week will give you a better idea of your energy oscillation. Sometimes things happen that force you out of your typical pattern but you will revert back to it eventually.

I noticed that I have my highs later in the morning and early after noon and again in the evening.  My lows come in the early morning, and late afternoon.  This may be different for you, but whatever your high/low oscillation is make note of it.

Next you will need to categorize your tasks into the amount of brain power that is required. The easier categories are "auto-pilot" and "concentration". The auto pilot tasks will include:

  • Brushing your teeth
  • Putting on your shoes
  • Going through emails 

Anything that does not require a large amount of concentration. The the concentration task would be:

  • Logistics of a project
  • Writing a delicately worded email to an angry client
  • Creating budgets for the year
  • Analysis, focus or anything that requires deep thought 

These tasks will require a large amount of brain power. Having a system in place will make this process much easier. If you do not have a system it is discussed in the "Do you have a system?" post.

The best way I have found to distinguish these items is to ask this question. "Should I be doing this while I am having a beer".  If the answer is yes then it is likely an autopilot task, if not then probably a higher brain function task. You can also break up the brain power required into more than just two types, but I find that more than three starts to make it more complicated, especially if you are trying to categorize (concentration task) during an energy low.

Third these tasks can now be scheduled according to your energy high or low.  If a task has been categorized as a concentration task try to schedule that task during an energy high in your day. If you know you are heading into an energy low, don't schedule yourself to start planning a project.

Please post comments, and any tricks that you may use to help cope with this energy flux.

I hope this helps make you more effective and less stressed.  To your success.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fail Better

Managing time is a difficult task.  I never try to portray that this is an easy thing to undertake.  This is something that will take time and will require some trial and error.

There is no perfect way of managing time that will work for everyone.  Some people do better having a lot of structure, others prefer to not have any structure and work things out as they go.  If either one of these ways work for you then keep doing that thing.  Also keep in mind that people change.  What may have worked for you back in college may not work very effectively now in your professional life.

I have found that a mix of structure and flexibility are that most effective for me.  I like having a rough layout of what needs to happen and anytime sensitive appointments are part of the structure of the day.  Everything else I let fall into the day as it fits I try to work small to large to gain momentum.  And I log everything that I do.  This way I can look back at the end of the day and see that I have accomplished quite a bit.

Again there is not magic bullet for time management.  All the things that I share with you are merely things that have worked for me.  They may or may not work for you.  But it is better starting with something that has worked as opposed to starting with something that has never work for anyone.  I recommend trying what I have done and keep what works and throw out what doesn't.

I hope this helps make you more effective and less stressed.  To your success.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Are you Present?

Today in a meeting I was able to attend, I noticed something that has seemingly become acceptable.  I observed a colleague of mine, that was also in the meeting, spend the entire 30 minutes of the meeting on a laptop.  I understand that sometimes it is necessary because you are handling multiple projects, dealing with client et cetera.

I still think that if you have such a tight schedule that a 30 minute window for a meeting is so much of a stretch then one of these two things is true.

  1. You are taking on too many things.
  2. You are a micromanager and/or you do not trust your subordinates to do the right things.

If the latter is true, I won't be able to help you.  The main reason being, if you can't trust people that work for you, nothing I say in a blog will change that.  I assume that if you are reading this blog however you are the former and want to find ways to improve yourself.

Being present during a meeting is respectful, whether that is with a friend at a coffee shop, or a training that you are forced to attend.

I find that you will get more out of it when you are fully present than when you are only there partially between comments or facebook posts.

The best trick I have found is that if at a dinner if everyone puts there phon in the middle of the table.  Then the first person to look at their phone has to pay for the meal for everyone.

I hope these tips will assist you in becoming better.  To your success.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Are You Focused?

I have found that a get distracted easily especially if I am doing something that I do not want to be doing.  It is inevitable that at some point we will have to to take on the obligation of doing something that we don't like doing.  I have developed some very effective systems that have helped me focus on the thing I don't want to do so that it is done and I can move on to the things I want to do.

The first trick I have learned is that if I listen to music alone that can be a distraction all its own.  I've found that if I listen to music that has a consistent beat and words that I don't try to listen to this helps. I also play a binaural beats track (typically 40hz because this stimulates the alpha brain wave) low in the background of the music.

The second trick is to schedule breaks.  This is along the same lines of a Pomodoro sprint, but you should take breaks unless you are on such a good line that it will be lost if you don't complete it.  I try to schedule a break every 30 or so minutes.  I know that many bosses are opposed to this many breaks but it will make people more efficient and keep them from burning out.

The third and probably most important trick is eating properly.  I know this sounds strange but having good food and the right kind is crucial to having that energy and focus that you are looking for.  The key is things that your can break down quickly, fruits, simple sugars, and timing them well.  If you time your meals just right you will never be hungry and will always be full of energy.

The last and most vital trick is to drink water.  You are made of water, and 80% of people are lacking the appropriate amount of water for there body type.  The best way I have heard it stated for determining the amount of water to drink is take your weight and that is the number of ounces of water you should drink daily.  I know it sounds like alot but it will change the way you feel.

I hope these tips will assist you in becoming better.  To your success.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Do You Use the 80/20 Rule of Time?

Time is the most valuable commodity on the planet.  I know there are people that would argue this but time is the one thing that you cannot make more of.  You can make more money, you can make relationships better, but you cannot make time.

I have found that as I get more efficient and better with the tasks I do the more I find myself wasting time.  I waste time because I know that I can quickly finish the task that needs to be done.  I know this is not the best way to handle myself but I know that human beings look for ways to be lazy.

I have found that as I start to master a task that needs to be done, if I give myself another thing to master the time that would be wasted is now being channeled towards a better end.  I have also discovered that if I don't set boundaries for when I will stop working I will not stop and this will lead to over working.  Over working is not good either, make sure you take time to rest.

Ultimately, the sweet spot is somewhere between, over working and being lazy.  I know that some people like to oscillate between these two extremes and that can work.  The issue with that approach is that it put additional stress on your body.  Each person has there own paradigm, so you will find what works for you.

I prefer to use the Vilfredo Pareto principle of 80/20.  The the 20% off of the lazy and 20% off of the over working we are left with the 60% that is in the middle. and this oscillation will serve much better in that we will never be near the point of collapse or the point of stagnation.

Getting started after a break is easier and break that is is easier.  This again is what I have found to be my sweet spot.  Please comment if this is the same sweet spot you use or if you have another method.

I hope this helps make you more effective and less stressed.  To your success.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Do You Have a System?

I know that in my life, there would be no way that I could handle a large majority of the things that I do
without the systems that have been created to handle them.  I have systems to handle projects, tasks, timing of these and triage of new tasks as they come up.

Having these systems provides several advantages to trying to track them myself.

  1. Tracking
  2. Less Stress
  3. Share Resources
  4. Accomplishment

First, it allows me to track everything that I have on my plate and ensures I will not drop anything I have committed to.  I know whether I can take on any additional tasks because I know what my current work load is.  If I have the time and resources I will take on more, if not then I can say no with confidence.

Second, these systems reduce my stress, because I am not relying on my memory to remember all tasks.  Having to remember everything you have to do in a day can be stressful.  That may be the reason why so many people don't plan more than a few weeks ahead for anything in their life.  Putting everything down on paper or digital paper will make you less stressed because you will know consciously and subconsciously that the information will not be lost.

Third, it allows me to share and distribute the tasks that I have as part of a project to other stakeholders.  If I have everything about a project in my own mind it makes collaboration with your team very difficult.  This is also very helpful in cases where you are getting too many things on your plate and need help.  This increases communication and transparency within your team. Asking someone to complete a task is easy if all the information is accessible.

Finally, the use of systems allows me to look back at all I have accomplished at the end of the day, week or month.  Sometimes after a very crazy week I feel like I have not made any progress towards the goals that I have set.  At these time I can look back on the long list of things that i have completed, and lets me not be as hard on myself.

I also want to point out that I use these systems in both my professional and personal life.  Both have benefited greatly from the use of these systems.  Conversations at the dinner table are no longer about planning for the next day, because it is all in systems and the decisions are made prior to arriving at home.

I hope this helps make you more effective and less stressed.  To your success.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Take A Learning Day

I have found that to be successful in any venture we have to have a plan to follow.  All to often after the newness and fun part of the plan wares off I find myself being tempted by other things that are more exciting
than the plan I am current following.  These are other plans that would more than likely end in the same place as the original plan.  I like to refer to these distractions from the selected path as "shinnies".

The issue is that if these "shinnies" are perused they will detract from the goal that you are trying to achieve.  May that be getting out of debt, organizing your house, completing a project at work or training to run a marathon.  The continuous little steps are what take you to your goal; keep taking those steps.

This doesn't negate the fact that many people want to learn more about things that are unfamiliar to them.  I personally try to learn at least 1 new thing that I know absolutely nothing about each year.  The best way I have found of managing this time and keeping it from taking you off course for an extended period is to integrate learning days into your routine.

These days can be used to learn about a new hobby you are interested in, learn how to use the new appliance/software/device that you have purchased recently and haven't learned it well.  This can be any number of loops that you have deferred or anything in the "Someday/Maybe" Loop.  I have also added a label "Learning Day" in Asana to make it easier to identify.

Using this method has helped me in a number of ways.  One, it allows me to get distracted, which is inevitable when you have to do things that are not fun, route that to a place that I know will be reviewed on a regular basis and get back to the boring things that need to be done.

I hope this helps make you more effective.  To your success.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Take Time to Rest

I have found that after I have completed a goal that I am exhausted and in need of some much deserved rest. The issue now becomes how do I know when I have rested sufficiently, and not effect the rhythm that I have found.  Sometimes it is a week sometimes two.  It really depends but I have found that I can not trust my body to tell me because it will be glutinous.

I know that resting is required after preforming long sprints, but resting too little will make the next sprint take longer and be of lower quality.  However, if I take too much time off I will be slow and it willl take me some time to get back in to the flow of things.  So finding this sweet spot had been a goal of mine for sometime.

The formula that I have found really works for me is for every month that is dedicated to a given sprint (a chunk of work on a project that is complete and requires no additional attention after completion) a week should be taken for recovery.  All the normal everyday things will still be done to maintain, but nothing new.

This formula is specific to me, each individual is different and the recovery times will very.  Based on a variety of factor, including weight, diet, sleep habits, exercise regimen, and type of work that is being preformed.

When starting in to the new loop keep in mind that you should only be making one change.  Changing too many things at once will make the process chaotic.  Keep it limited to one new change, until you have achieved a system for that new element.

I hope this helps make you more effective.  To your success.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Where Do You Spend Your Time?

I find that that things fall into one of 4 categories. We tend to be doing the important and urgent things. If you don't make time for the Important and not urgent things they become issues. One of the most common important/not urgent subject that is neglected is health.

There will always be something in Quadrant I if we don't allocate time to doing the things in Quadrant II. I think that if we have this time set aside it would allow us to grow more strongly as a company because we are mentally clear with out all the "things we need to do."

Getting Things Done (GTD)

Going through the "stuff" you need to do in a day can be very time consuming. Having to touch the same item more than once before it has an actionable step can be very time consuming. Using the "Getting Things Done" method of processing does cut down on the time wasted touching an item more than once. This method come from the book "Getting things done" by David Allen; get the book on amazon.
So many of us have many projects and because of this it can be very difficult creating a flow of information and knowing what you should be doing at any given moment. This has been modified slightly for more specific description of projects.


In the first step we need to collect all the things in the area we are addressing. Put everything in one pile, everything except furniture (art is not furniture). This includes pieces of paper that you have a note on, printed emails, printed anything for that matter. Have a stack of paper to write down big items that can not be moved. Each sheet should have only one item. I recommend separating electronic life from the tangible world for this section. They have become very interconnected in our lives so I know this will be difficult for some. After everything has been gathered in a pile. Go through it one piece at a time, and don't start creating multiple piles.


The next step will be processing. All the items that have been collected in the previous step will be processed here.


After you have processed an item, you will need to organize it in one of these ways.
Trash - There is no value to keeping information that is useless. Keeping trash only adds to the clutter in our lives. Throw away anything that is not actionable or has no reference value.
Reference - A lot of the stuff that you collect will go into the reference pile. This includes paid bills, URL bookmarks, old tax returns, important papers, emails, project notes, journals, textbooks, etc.
Someday - This is where you put items that you are not sure you ever want to do, but maybe someday you'll think about them again.
Project Planning - When you have an item that needs to be broken down into its constituent actionable steps, you are in the "Project Planning" stage.
Waiting - When you have delegated a task to someone else, it goes into your "waiting" pile. Action can not proceed until someone else finishes their part.
Calendar - Any task that must be completed by or on a certain date can be given a due-date and time.
2 Minute List - When an item is going to take more than 2 minutes it goes to this list. This is the list that will be done next as time allows.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Schedule Less

Many people I know are in a constant struggle to get more time trying to fit more and more into a day.  Scheduling everything down to the minute, and leaving no room for deviation.  This leads to higher stress levels, especially if you have a life that has variable that are not part of a system you can control, most of us do.  I think that scheduling is great and it does make all of us more efficient.  But I don't like to pack my day so tight that if there is an accident or some other time, that I'm chasing that  perfect line the rest of the day.

Life has flux, that is one constant thing about life.  If you have it planned out perfectly, then something will be thrown in to force you to change your approach.  Life is a living breathing thing, it is not static.

A more effective way of grouping your tasks is to use a tiered method.  I recommend having a loose list of things that need to be done, and move them over to your daily list as you find your self with more time.  If you don't find yourself with additional time, you should take a look at how to close your open loops.

The approach that I use in my personal and professional life is 3 tiered.  First, I have a calendar of the hard lines that are required of me that day.  These include meetings, appointments, anything that is scheduled.  The scheduled part of my day make up no more than 40% of my hours awake.  Second, I track my soft lines in a list of the tasks that need to be completed in the near future, these are set as upcoming.  The upcoming threshold I use is a task that needs to be completed within 30 days.  Lastly, I have a list of float items that I want to get to.  I typically leave these items to fill the gaps, when I am early to an appointment, or taking a break in my Pomodoro sprint. These float items are things such as reading an article, or catching up on email or reading the book I'm working on.  

Here are the 3 tiers 
  • Hard lines in Calendar
  • Soft lines in Upcoming Task List
  • Float in want To-Do list.
I hope this helps make you more effective.  To your success.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Be More Effective with Time

In the world that we live in we are constantly fighting to keep our attention focused on the task at hand.  I refer to these distractions in life as "Shinnies".  They are just one more thing that will getting you doing something but it will keep you from actually being productive.

I'm not saying that the shinnies aren't urgent, and incredibly enticing and sometimes even important.  They can be all of those things.  What I am saying is that those shinnies are taking you away from the plan that you are currently following.  I don't suggest that you make a hard plan and never make adjustments.  I am merely suggesting that if you do make a change, change the execution of the plan not the goal.  You have chosen to pursue the goal for a reason, why would you stop chasing that one goal.

A philosopher put it another way.
"The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither" (Confucius)


Another great way to stay on task is to use the proper tools.  Every jobs is easier with the proper tools.  The two most effective tools that I use on a daily basis to keep me focused are Asana and Pomodoro Daisuki.  I use the chrome extensions for both of these tools so they are open to me as soon as I start my day.

Asana is a task management tool, that allows you to manage your personal and business life in one place and add collaborators, like a spouse.  This allows you and your team to stay in sync with changes and tasks that need to be done.

Pomodoro Daisuki is a time management technique that allows you to become more effective with your time.  It uses 25 minute sprints with 5 minute breaks.  The human focus is getting shorter due to the technology lifestyle that we have become accustom to.  Odds are you are probably reading this blog from your tablet, phone or other technology device.

One last piece of software that I use to keep me focused is Pocket.  Have you ever decided that you were going to take on your email (email is going to be a whole other blog post), only to find yourself off on a tangent within 15 minutes.  Reading something that you need or want to learn about or just something of interest.  Pocket is very helpful in that arena because it will allow you to save the article that you are reading, and start reading it again at a later time.  The greatest part about it is that it will sync with your various mobile devices and save them locally so that you can access the article when you are offline.  When you don't have access to the internet is typically when you will have the time to read those articles that you didn't have time for previously.   Pocket allows you to take advantage of that time.

I hope this has helped you.  Please leave your comments, and suggestions.

To your success

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Less is More

I have come to a conclusion recently, the more projects you have the less effective you are on those projects.

Everyone has a to do list, and it seems to be ever growing. For every task finished and crossed off the list, there is two or more than get added. This seems to be my experience with this. The additional tasks may be your boss adding more to your plate, a recent software update has gone awry, or things that you think of during the day that "Need" to be done.

All this adding tasks to the growing to do list leads to trying to multi-task, and less effective execution of all tasks that are attempted. It also leads to added stress, lack of motivation and reduced focus. Think of this as your mental RAM. You only have so much unless you upgrade it, and that takes work and time.  The more you have available the faster and more effective you can be at everything you do.

The best way to free up your Mental RAM is to Close Open Loops.  Reduce the number of active projects that you have in your Asana project list, if you are using another task management software adjust accordingly.  This will reduce the amount of stress you have each time you view your projects.  For me I am in Asana all day, because it allows me to manage all my projects and tasks, assign them to collaborators, and map what the next steps should be and what I have approaching.  This can be applied to many other project/task tools this is just the one that I use for my personal and professional use.
I hope this helps make you more effective.  To your success.