Hello and welcome back to Coffee Break Blogging!
We wrap up the year with a different kind of episode than usual. This episode contains 101 different productivity tips to help you make the most of the upcoming year of 2015. This episode is longer than usual – but we want to make 2015 the best year we’ve ever had. You with me? 😉
Now, today, we are actually NOT going to continue on our series to creating an information based business online. We are actually going to take a little bit of a break and it is only because this is the last episode of 2014!
It has been an interesting journey where this podcast has actually existed for a little while now. It was called The Blog Program. Which, quite frankly is not the most creative podcast title I have ever come up within my life; I don’t take pride in that. But the other thing I don’t take pride in it is I had actually let that podcast go to the waste side twice. And then, I decided to bring it back and really systematize it into my business. And at that point is when I called it the Coffee Break Blogging and we have been on a pretty regular schedule now for a little while. This is Episode 43. I mean, that is pretty cool that we have gotten to this point in the Coffee Break Blogging Series.
And coming up in 2015, it is just going to keep on going. The release schedule is going to be Wednesdays and Saturdays so that will be two episodes per week. I am actually mapping out every single episode in advance so I know what is going to be said, essentially and we can stay on schedule. So it is going to be a great series moving on to 2015. It is going to remain in the same contacts that it is now in terms of the fact that one episode is going to naturally lead into the next one. So you cannot listen to any one episode, quite frankly and have it be self-contained.
If you want to have the entire set up on how to start from scratch and move in to a profitable business on the internet, then you are going to need to listen to Coffee Break Blogging all the way through, starting with Episode 30. I think it is when I started going in to the Coffee Break Blogging series. So go back to number 30 and start going forward from there and you can follow along with me. It is going to be a fun ride. 🙂
Now, this episode is going to be different. It might actually be a little bit longer than usual because I wanted to cover the subject of “Productivity”. And the reason is because if we want to make 2015 the most productive year we would ever have, we need to be PRODUCTIVE. We need to actually get lots done.
So what I am going to do is I have actually created a list, and I had put it on the blog as well so you can actually read it there if you like, but it is 101… Yes, 101 Productivity Hacks That Will Allow You To Make 2015 Your Most Productive Year Ever. And what I am going to do is go through these 101 different productivity hacks. And I might have a few side comments on some of them. But let’s go and get started here. And you don’t need to worry about taking notes or anything. You just sit back and enjoy because not only there is going to be a transcript to this episode, as there always is but we have got the entire list for you that you can go and read and hell… you could even copy and paste them into Evernote or put them into a PDF, whatever works for you.
Here we go…
101 Productivity Hacks
- Separate your planning from your execution. You want to sit down and plan and make all of your decisions in advance and then you switch hats over to your “worker hat” and start executing. So what I mean by that is typically the decision making ends up being where we get hang up. So what you can do is actually make the decisions first and then when it comes down to work time, it is just a matter of executing. You do not have to think a heck of a lot.
- Along that line, spend as much time planning your 2015 as you can, in advance. This is why I spent so much time that I have, and I am not even done as of the time of recording this episode; of planning my entire 2015 content calendar in advance. I am literally planning out every blog post, every podcast, every product release, everything; putting them all in my Google Calendar so that I know exactly what is going to happen and when.
- Always be clear on the outcome that you are shooting for with specifics. If you do not know the exact outcome you want, you will never know when you have arrived.
- Measure as much as you can since you cannot improve what you do not measure. I challenge you that pretty much anything that you are doing, you can probably make it numerical. And track it. Even if you need to create an arbitrary system to do that; make it. Make it numerical, something that you can assign an actual number to, because then you can actually track trends and track your progress and you can actually work against yourself in order to make more headway.
- At the end of every week, do a weekly review. Now, I do this and I keep it inside of Evernote. And what I do, I just write a general free-hand summary of how I think the week went. But I answer three specific questions and those are: What went right? What went wrong? And for those things that did go wrong, what policy do I need to implement to ensure that it does not happen again? Now, if you do that, then you acknowledge what went right; because that is very important. You do acknowledge what did not go right; because that is important, too. But lastly, you want to make sure that you are self-correcting. So, if something did not work out the way that you want, then you need to re-design your systems in such a way where that would not re-occur.
- All the tactics in the world mean nothing if not guided by an overall strategy.
- Know why you are doing what it is that you are doing. It makes all the difference when it comes to what you are doing and it also turns all those “hows” and they are just a matter of mechanics.
- Your life is basically a set of systems. When you are not getting what you want then you should sit back and re-think the design of the system that you are using. And that is an important mindset principle there. It is the idea of thinking of everything in your life basically as a program. If you come from a world of program, and this is all a lot easier because you are used to thinking of problems in a logical step by step way so you can create an algorithm to do it; but in your actual life, the things that you are actually doing in your life is essentially is like a little algorithm. You might not be programming it with code but you are programming it with your thoughts. And if some things not go the way you want, you need to sit back and look at the design of that program, of that algorithm and look at where you need to debug it.
- Write out those systems. The more you that you can boil your main your activities into a checklist, the better.
- In order to have what you want, you have to do certain things. But to do those things you have to be a certain kind of person. Decide to embody that identity.
- Schedule tasks on your calendar like appointments. This is something that I have been doing, where I will actually create my task list for the day and I will go to my calendar and I literally schedule out those tasks. So you don’t need to have your calendar only be for appointments or when you have to be at certain place or when you have a meeting. It could be appointments with yourself where you sit down to do a particular task. It is highly, highly beneficial; at least for me.
- Spend the 15 or so minutes in the morning scheduling out your day. Or you can do that at night. For me, I find that I just don’t want to be always in business mode at night so I do it first thing in the morning when I sit down.
- As you go through the day, adjust those appointments to the times that it actually took to do them. So, I have my schedule on my Google Calendar in advance of the day. And sometimes moving on beyond that. Now, sometimes tasks take me a little longer than I intended. So what I do, as the day goes by I go back and adjust and start at the end times of those things so that over time, I have a running record of what I was doing on every single day. And it is just really, really handy to do that.
- During each of those schedule blocks, utilize a desktop timer application in order to keep you on target. So what I do is I run an app on my screen here called “Timer Utility”. I am on Mac so if you are on Windows, just find something that works for you. And if allot myself an hour to get a particular thing done, I set that timer for 60 minutes and hit “start” and it just starts counting down. And what it does, it helps keep me on task. It really does.
- During your weekly reviews, screenshot your calendar and drop it into the note. You will then have a running record of exactly what you did that week along with your review of how it all turned out. So all of my weekly reviews have a screenshot of my Google Calendar right inside of it so I know exactly what I was doing that week.
- Time is your most precious asset. And rather than just hearing that code again and thinking how cute it might be, take the last 5 tips that I have given you and apply them religiously because they will really make you aware of that time ticking at by every day. It really makes you accountable to that time in thinking of your time as a real resource.
- Schedule downtime. It is absolutely important as well.
- Work hard. Play harder. 😉
- When in downtime mode, do not spend that time buried in your mobile device. It is important to real disconnect sometimes. And I know, sometimes I struggle with this, too. And my wife actually gives me a hard time for this. It’s like, if I’m not working, don’t be thinking about work!
- Know what your goal is. Most people don’t operate with any goal in mind and they end up just being a feather in the wind of life as a result.
- Write out a set of personal policies that need to be kept in place for things to go smoothly. And these things are going to come out of your experience. I mean, when you are doing your weekly reviews and you find something that didn’t go right there in the week, you should set a policy for yourself. So over time, these lists of policies will evolve and possibly link in. Totally cool!
- If you think productivity tips do not apply to you because you have a regular job, think again. 🙂
- Do not live inside your email inbox. Decide right now. Who is the boss? You or it?
- Zero out your inbox at the end of each day. Definitely a good idea.
- … but do not do that until the end of the day. You do not want to spend your top production time, which for most of us during the morning; doing your email.
- Unsubscribe from those email lists which are just not giving you any value. We know the ones. If you are on a list and all they do is promoting crap to you, just get off if they are not really doing you that much good.
- Take your Evernote email address, which all of our Evernote accounts have one; and you could subscribe that address to people’s email list. Because then you can get their emails in your Evernote and you can read them, or even file them away into a Swipe file or whatever it is that you want to do.
- Add your Evernote as your email contact so you can easily forward emails to your Evernote account from within your email program.
- Use filters in your email to move those emails which you want to keep getting but do not require you to actually do anything.
- If you happen to see a post on Facebook that looks really good and now is not the time to get into it, use the new “save” functionality that Facebook has built-in. You can actually save it for later.
- Use the Evernote web clipper to file the whole article that you want to read later, into a notebook called “Read later”.
- Don’t go on Facebook during your scheduled task appointment. So this is the ones that we talked about that we are going to put in our calendar.
- If you find that your time is getting sunk in to debating on social media like debating politics and crap like that, just do yourself a favor and hide those posts from yourself. Just stop tempting you. I mean, nobody ever wins those debates anyway.
- Silence your phone’s ringer.
- You should not allow people to control you via your phone’s ringer. Because you are allowing them to determine your schedule at that point. Your time is more valuable than that!
- The same goes for emails. If you are being notified of all incoming emails like when it happens; turn it off!
- If you think that you cannot turn those phones off or emails for certain times because of your job or you think that you are going to lose business, then you need to sit back and question your systems. Because what kind of an operation are you really creating if you have to sit there and be on call like that and basically become a slave to the thing that you have made?
- If you have a team and emails is just kind of bogging you down, try Slack. That’s at slack.com. It is a really cool team collaboration system basically works like IRC chat. Really, really cool.
- If you are wasting time scheduling appointments or trying to find times that work for both parties or what have you, check out ScheduleOnce. That is at ScheduleOnce.com and it will really remove a lot of those complexities from you.
- Do not compare yourself to other people. If the result of that is you actually feel less about yourself, then you are actually harming your ability to even live up to your own potential and that is a net loss of capability for you.
- Disconnect from cynicism. There is no time for it.
- Cynicism and antagonism from friends or family is their attempt to bring you down. Learn to confront it head on. See it from what it is and neither handle it or remove it from your life.
- Do not watch the news. They have got one goal and I am going to blunt with you; it is to disturb you so they can sell you shit. That is really the only purpose it. So disconnect from the news.
- Consider ditching your cable television. We did. My wife and I made this decision about 3 months ago. And now, yeah, we still watch television but it is a lot more purposeful. We do not channel surf anymore. It actually saves a lot of time.
- Keep your space clean. The clean environment makes for a happy mind. Actually, usually the messiness of your environment is a direct reflection of what is going on inside your head. But if you clean your environment you will find that often your head will clear up.
- Make it a part of your weekly routine to clean up your office. Clean up your house. Clean up everything.
- Do not leave incomplete tasks lying around. Just go and handle all of them. Every single one of them is a little piece of mental energy that is kind of stuck in limbo.
- Make a list of every incomplete task that you have. Just one huge list and get all of it out of your head.
- And then the next thing is to go through that list and find that every single one that you could do in about 15 minutes and just dedicate the entire day when you do nothing but handle all that backlog crap. Get it off your plate.
- Now, for everything that you can’t get done because it takes a little longer than 15 minutes, then schedule it out. Put it on your calendar like we have talked about earlier.
- Now, what we just said as far as cleaning up all those backlog tasks, you should probably do that on a weekly basis. And also, bring dump all those tasks that are just sitting inside your head and do that on a weekly basis.
- Drink bullet-proof coffee. Heard of this? It is literally coffee, now it is going to be high quality coffee with oil in it and grass fed butter. Sounds a little weird; it’s not. It tastes fantastic. Just go search Google for bulletproof coffee, you will find all about it.
- Eat well. Like, seriously, if you do not eat well, it is actually going to definitely impact your productivity.
- Exercise. Now, if you can’t exercise and you just hate… I mean, I don’t like exercising much, I got to admit. Then just try the 7 minute workout. Just go to Google and search for 7 minute workout. It is actually A to B, only takes 7 minutes, and I think any of us can probably tolerate something for 7 minutes.
- Take an hour or two and re-organize your work computer for easier workflow. Just organize your files, your desktop icons, things like that.
- Use two screens on your computer. The dual screen thing definitely is an awesome tool for productivity and you are probably never going to go back to one.
- Drink water. Lots of water.
- Also, take your vitamins. Vitamin C, (Ascorbate), is actually an extremely important vitamin as well as Vitamin D.
- In between your tasks appointments that we talked about earlier, get up and walk around. Just get your blood going a little bit. Maybe do some push-ups or something. Get the blood moving.
- Every now and then, change your work environment. Head over to Starbucks, Panera bread, these are some of the stuff I do sometimes. But strangely, you’ll find sometimes that your productivity will increase just by getting out of the space that you usually work in.
- Goal with no action for it mean absolutely nothing.
- And plan; any plan must be broken down into a series of specific actions.
- Now, each action should be broken down until each one is something specific enough to be done in one sitting.
- You want to make sure that each action is measureable with a very clear distinction between “done” and “not done”. There should not be any ambiguity to this one, whatsoever.
- You want to consider having an accountability partner or a group. Now, at the Blog Marketing Academy, we have the VIP community for that and we help keep each other accountable on what we are doing.
- Surround yourself with same-minded people. Now, what I mean by this is not exactly somebody who sees everything exactly the way you do. It is more about their wavelength in terms of their motivation level and their energy because that energy is contagious and if they are slow or they are more like, “eh,eh… “it is going to get to affect you so that is not something you want to have around.
- Hire a mentor.
- You cannot eat and talk at the same time. So at the same exact vain, you cannot consume information while you are producing. Do not be out there trying to read blog post while simultaneously trying to do something for your business. It is not the same thing.
- Look for any opportunity to leverage your free time to get something done. You can leverage technology to do this. Hint! Hint! We all have smartphones and they are very powerful.
- For instance, recording audio blog posts while you drive. You can actually record it while you are driving and then pay a person on Fiverr for $5 to transcribe it and boom! You just wrote a blog post while you are driving your car. And it is totally safe because you are just talking into your phone. You are not writing.
- Hire a virtual assistant.
- You can automate things via a VA, too. The word “automation” for a lot of us usually comprises software. But if you automate it by putting a VA on the job, it is kind of the same thing.
- Do what you are good at. Allow other people for them to do what they are good at.
- Realize that no productivity system out there being peddled is going to be a magic bullet because it isn’t the system which does the work. It is YOU. The system has to fit you in the way that you think can operate.
- If you open an email, deal with it right then and there. If you think you don’t feel like with any emails right then and there, don’t go into your email inbox.
- And that is because procrastination at least doubles your workload.
- Use a tool like Workflowy.com (I love Workflowy) to keep tasks and projects out of your head. When I do my brain dump, just like when I plan out projects, I usually do that inside of Workflowy. I love the tool, and they are there every single day.
- Do not allow broken items to sit around not having been repaired. Like incomplete tasks, these things just sit around and they occupy mental energy. And typically, I found that when you don’t fix it when the problem arises, usually the problem becomes worse. They kind of suck how that works.
- Use a task list. Like, everyday, use a task list, okay? It is very important.
- Multi-tasking is actually a really bad idea and it does not help you be more productive. So focus one thing at a time. It is counter-intuitive as it may seem.
- Learn to say “no” to people.
- In between those scheduled tasks blocks that we talked about earlier, give yourself a 5-10 minute break in between. And just do whatever the hell you feel like doing during that time.
- If you have to take a meeting, set a strict time limit on it. Tell them upfront how much time that you have for that meeting and tell them you got to go when that timeframe happens. That can be your excuse if you need one.
- In your outgoing voice message that you record on your phone, instruct them to leave a message with the exact reason why they are calling. And what this does is it helps alleviate those people who says, “Hey, Fred, give me a call when you have a chance!” That’s it! It is just so unhelpful. You do not know whether you are going to call to waste your time or what or whether it is super important. So make them leave the message accordingly.
- For longer emails, record an audio of you speaking out the reply and send that audio to them as an attachment. We can all speak a helluva lot faster than we can type typically so take advantage of that. Plus, they are going to think they are awesomely special because they just received an audio message from you.
- Consider getting up earlier. Like, earlier. 🙂
- Don’t get stuck in planning mode. You know when you are using it as a crux to avoid the actual work.
- Do your most difficult task first thing in the morning. Just get it out of the way, get it behind you; you can focus on other things.
- Do not use social media as an excuse for being productive. It is not really that productive. You probably know that. What you should do is always attend to your promotional tasks and the ones that are going to contribute to your bottomline before you allow yourself to work on things that are not going to contribute to the bottomline.
- Learn how to delegate to people.
- If you are trying to grow your team and you are the bottleneck then you should ruthlessly refuse to do tasks that you should not be doing and instead force yourself to take that time to systematize it and hand it off to somebody else.
- If you cannot stop yourself from being distracted while you should be working on something, because you are getting notifications from various sites and things like that; then just turn off your Wi-Fi. Like literally disconnect your computer from the internet. That will do it.
- Set one day every single week or maybe every two weeks where it is just the catch-up day, to attend to all those backlog trivial tasks that have been stacking up.
- Learn how to speed-read. You can consume a lot more information and do it a lot quicker that way.
- Keep your emails short. If necessary, have something in your email signature which explains why the email is so short.
- Set time deadlines. You will always find; and I have definitely found this, that a task will always expand to fill the time that you have allotted for it.
- Make changes in your habits one at a time. Do not sell yourself up for failure by trying to tackle every bad habit that you have got all at the same time.
- Realize that a lot of those little fears; those fears of what is going to happen if you tell somebody “no”… those fears that some bad is going to happen if you decide to take more control of your own time… realize that any of those fears are generally unfounded and completely just inside your own head. You will probably find that people will respect you for making those calls, not get mad at you.
- When something is being put off a lot or it is bothering you for some reason, stop… confront it head on. The mere act of confronting a problem directly usually makes it vanish.
- Every single day, list out your primary goals. Not your tasks; but your big, grand level goals. Now, what you should them is name them very specifically and make them numeric so that you actually know what you are shooting for. Now, an example of this will be 100 new email sign ups per week. So, every single week, your goal is to get 100 new email sign ups to your list. And you make sure that the task that you set up for the day are directly aimed that with whatever you put in that list. And you should ask yourself, “Is this task aimed primarily at my goal for this particular week?” And if it is not, drop it, delay it or delegate it.
- Do not react to 2015. We have all done this before. We do not want to simply react to what the year throws at us. We do not want to just go with the flow. You want to own it! Realize this is YOUR TIME. You want to have the life you want; you have to actively create it. You have to do it actively. You have to steer the ship. Otherwise, the ship steers itself, you can run aground, you can have the currents turn you around. You don’t want to do that. You want to be the captain, you want to drive this thing, and you want to make it go the way that you want.
With that, I am going to leave you to have a fantastic 2015. I really hope that you are going to stick around with Coffee Break Blogging and get a lot of value from it. I certainly got a lot of big plans for the podcast moving ahead. But most of all, I hope you find a lot of success in 2015. Really work; make it a successful one and I will work on the same from this end and we will just make it a successful year all around.
With that, have a great New Year’s and I will see you next year! 😉