Top 3 Productivity Limitations

In this article, you will learn how to avoid the top 3 productivity limitations which gives you a false and inaccurate expectations of productivity.

Top 3 Productivity Limitations

We hear this word productive or productivity often.  In fact, it is a great buzz word to use especially in the work place.  After all, we all want to be able to achieve and accomplish more than the number of hours that is in a day.  There is a never-ending list of things to do, projects to deliver, campaigns to manage and new products and innovations to create.  It is the illusion that the more that we can do, the more productive or special I am or would be.  One of the critical success factors of having a balance and productive life is to acknowledge that there inherently 3 key limitations of productivity and they are:

1.  Productivity is NOT the end goal.

2.  You are THE productivity limitation.

3.  Productivity is only as good as the consistency and enjoyment that it brings you. 

Let’s break it down.

Productivity is not the end goal. 

To be more productive enables you to theoretically get more done within the time parameters or constraints, but that’s not the end goal of why you want to be more productive.  The end goal is to make an impact, make a difference, produce work that is meaningful and that you are proud off.

If we make productivity the end goal, then the focus is diverted from what ultimately gives you satisfaction in the long run.  You can certainly be happy and satisfied with being more productive by ticking off check list items but that does not mean that what you have checked off on your checklist achieved the significance, impact or meaning that you intended. 

We know that the real enjoyment of work is not work but meaningful work.  Meaningful work is derived when what we do gives not just the person doing the work meaning but to the people that it impacts.  You could be a productivity monkey, churning out pages and pages of writing but if everything that you have written is just garbage, what good is churning out pages then?

Productivity goals are a means to the end goal and NOT the end goal itself.  View productivity improvements as a tool in the overall arsenal to producing meaningful work and impact.

Limitations of productivity improvements is YOU.

That is right, you are the bottleneck and the ultimate source of just how far your productivity improvements can go.  There is no end to the number of productivity tools that are out there.  There are digital and analog productivity tools of all forms and functions.  You have choices and maybe far too many choices in terms of tools that you could use. 

Bullet journaling is an example of an “analog” or traditional pen and paper form of creating and tracking to-dos, goals, and planning future activities and measurements.  There are various methods and some extremely creative and beautifully crafted bullet journals that people have created and used where they have experienced productivity improvements. 

Another critical application or tool that I have no doubt each of us use everyday is the calendar.  Whether the calendar is in a digital or analog format, does not matter.  We need a tool that helps us to schedule what we are to do, who we are to meet and when and most importantly a reminder or notification to actually remind us when the time comes.  Personally, I have tried all sorts of different scheduling tools and applications and have finally settled on Microsoft Outlook as my main calendaring application.  Why?  It provides “physical” reminder when either my phone or my watch buzzes with its notification. 

The key is here is that no matter the tools that you use, the key is to actually do it when the time comes.  If the action is left as just a writing on your bullet journal or a block of time in your calendar but you do not do it, it is still meaningless.  You and your corresponding action is the key and therefore the ultimate limitation.   Once you recognition the limitations, you will realise that it does not matter what tools or methods that you use, it must be able to support what you want to accomplish.

Ask yourself:

  • What are my current limitations?
  • Do I need a different system or tool to help me overcome my current bottleneck?
  • What is missing from my current productivity arsenal that is able to help me?
  • Who or where can I learn more in order me for to expand my knowledge of productivity hacks?

Productivity is only as good as the consistency and enjoyment that it brings you.

You are as good as the productive you and your productivity level is only as good as you.  You are the key to being more or less productive and that lies in your mindset, discipline and enjoyment.  Your mindset will determine how you approach and view of work and what you want to achieve.  Discipline is the key to making sure that you are able to not just get started but to stay committed and sustain it long enough for productivity to be a habit.  Enjoyment will help you to enjoy and have fun through the process.

No one suddenly becomes more productive overnight.  It takes time and intentional actions that is taken not just once but repeatedly over time.  You therefore define what productivity means to you and how you measure it.  The most freeing aspect of this lies in the fact that you are the one defining what productivity means.  You could define it as being able to do 10 items or just completing 1 impactful item.  It is up to you.  No matter how you define it, the critical aspect is that whatever the outcome or output is one that gives you significance, purpose, meaning and satisfaction.  To keep you at it, you must enjoy the process and the journey.  If you do not enjoy it, then you know you are not going to keep it up.  Change up the tools or process to keep your enthusiasm or enjoyment level up.  Don’t be afraid to change a routine just because you might believe that routines are set in stone.  Routines are to help you and not to hinder you.  Change, adapt and modify where required and necessary.

In summary, don’t be a productivity monkey because it looks good or is trendy.  Be aware of the 3 productivity limitations and they are:

1.  Productivity is NOT the end goal.

2.  You are THE productivity limitation.

3.  Productivity is only as good as the consistency and enjoyment that it brings you. 

The end goal is to create impactful and meaningful work.  Tools, applications, techniques and methods are just to help you.  You and your subsequent actions are the keys.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this blog with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

10 Things to STOP doing to be more productive.

In this article, you will learn the 10 things that you need to stop doing in order to be more productive.

10 Things to STOP doing to be more productive.

To be more productive is all about how to make the most of the finite resource that you have and that is time.  In order for you to be productive, you must be brutal with what you are NOT going to do.  To be more productive does not mean:

  • You sacrifice sleep which gives you more working hours. 
  • You neglect all aspects of your life such as relationships and taking care of yourself.
  • You have to do everything that you think you need to do or what other people expect of you.

In order for you to live a balance and productive life, you will need to stop these 10 things:

  1. Stop trying to be a people pleaser.  Yes, that’s right, trying to please others is one of the biggest reasons why people take on more than they should as well as putting on undue pressure on yourself. 
  2. Stop the “Help-trap cycle”.  It is hard to say No to a friend especially when he or she is asking you to help out however, you will need to weigh up what sort of help he is asking for.  Of course, if it is an emergency or a real need for help, then by all means, help.  However, there is a help-trap that we must be aware off and that is the trap where it is because of his or her procrastination or not taking action earlier that has resulted in the current situation.  The trap here is not the one-time help, but one where it creates a cycle of help-trap.  You are not helping the person by always bailing him out.
  3. Stop “I am the only person that can do this” mentality.  This mindset creates a controlling behaviour which prevents you from delegating and asking for help.  Taking on everything because you think that you are the only one that can do a good job is not just a lie but also one that traps into this cycle of having to do everything.
  4. Stop FOMO.  Fear of missing out is very real and fear is one of the main drivers for most of our thoughts and behaviour.  The reason why we feel we need to be busy is because if everyone around is busy, there must something wrong with me if I am not as busy as everyone else.  That must mean that I am missing out on something that everyone else seems to be having.  Taking on more or pretending to be busy is NOT being productive.
  5. Stop doing what is NOT working, change it up.  To be stagnant is one of the worst positions to be in.  I am reminded of what a manager once told me, Standing Still is the most tiring and worst position to be in.  If your current routine or habit is not giving you what you want, then change it.  Learn from others, get new ideas and try out different methods or techniques.  Change it up if you are already using a certain technique.  Don’t feel that you need to stick one method forever.  For example, I change my routine all the time.  I try different techniques such as bullet journal and when I got bored with that, I tried out Pomodoro and I would mix certain methods and techniques for what suits me.  Productivity tools can be changed too if it is not working for you.  For example, I tried using Notion because I heard so many good things about it especially how it is able to help with productivity.  I tried it for 3 months but after that I just found myself going back to Microsoft Outlook and pen and paper for listing down key activities that I need to focus on the week.
  6. Stop “Not taking a break”.  Take breaks frequently as this will help keep your energy level up as well as giving you some time to recharge.  Energy management is more important than time management.  The ability for you to produce your best work is entirely dependent on your energy level and NOT time.  If your energy level is at its peak, so will your productivity and the output.  One of the best productivity techniques that incorporates breaks is the Pomodoro technique. 
  7. Stop Focusing on the urgent but not important task.  There are many reasons why some tasks are urgent but not important.  Most of the time, it is because it is either a result of prior procrastination or someone else’s urgent that has now become yours because you were not able to say no to.  The former is avoidable, but the latter might not be depending on who it is that is passing it on to you.  Let’s focus on what we are able to control and therefore let’s ensure that we do what we need to do at the start and not let it procrastinate until it gets into the urgent but not important bucket.
  8. Stop trying to be Perfect.  There is not such thing as perfect and in fact perfectionism is a myth.  Think about it.  How can an imperfect person produce perfect work or output?  We should certainly strive to do our best but our best will never be perfect.  Our best is the best that we can do, therefore be satisfied with giving it your best and learning from that experience to do better the next time.
  9. Stop being busy.  Busyness is not productive.  Stay away from the busy trap.  Busy just leads to distractions and lack of focus and alignment to your goals and purpose.  Having a lot of things or tasks to do is not something to be proud off.  In fact, it just shows a lack of focus and clarity of your purpose.
  10. Stop denying yourself of fun and self-care.  Yes, that’s right, in order to be more productive, you have to have fun and you must take care of yourself.  You can’t be productive if you are not enjoying what you are doing.  You certainly can’t be productive and produce your best work if you are not taking care of yourself.  If you are not feeling well, you are certainly not going to be creating the best work, making the right decisions, and experiencing the inspiration of producing impactful work.

I hope that you have found this list of 10 things to Stop doing helpful.  Think about which trap you have fallen into or a cycle that you might need to break in order for you to experience a different level of productivity.  Stop and think about what you are doing today that you don’t need to do.  Stop the unnecessary especially if you enjoy it but it is not what you are supposed to be doing.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this blog with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

3 Steps to Start Your Morning Routine on the Right Foot

In this article, you will learn how to start your day on the most productive path.  There are essentially 3 common habits or elements that the most successful people practice.

3 Steps to Start Your Morning Routine on the Right Foot

Morning Routine of successful people consists of 3 common habits:

1.  Quiet Time or time of reflection

2.  Clarity on what goals or achievements to be achieved.

3.  Physical Activity of some sort

Over the past decade or so, I have been curious about how the most successful people start their day or their morning and even their evening routine.  After all, you must learn from the most successful people, right?  I have over the course of time implemented or tried to follow some of their best practices and incorporated them into my daily habits.

I have noticed that there are some common themes or habits that they have when they start the day.  And no I am not going to cover the crazy wake up times like 4.30am even though I have to confess that I have tried the 5am morning routine and since I am naturally a morning person, it wasn’t too difficult for me to do.    However, I do not consider the early wake-up times to be critical for a successful morning routine.  What I will be sharing is not the morning schedule but elements or components that makes up a successful routine.  This is so that you are able to create your personalised routine that works for you.

The critical elements are:

1.  Intentional and Allocated Time to reflect, plan and align the actions with the why.

2.  Routine that is consistent and can even be considered boring but that eliminates unnecessary decision making.

3.  Self-care that incorporates physical activity, reading and by the way, reading emails is the not the reading that I mean, and have a healthy diet.

Let’s break them down.

Time to reflect, plan and gain clarity on purpose and outcomes.

Start the day with clarity on what you want to accomplish for the day.  To do so, you must spend some time to reflect on your day and ask yourself the following:

  • what went well?
  • what did not go well?
  • what could you do differently?
  • what could you stop doing? 

After reflecting on what you did, you can then plan out what you want or need to do for the day.  Ask yourself:

  • What do you want to accomplish or achieve for the day?
  • What specific goals do you want to achieve?
  • What changes from yesterday do you want to make?
  • What are your priorities for the day?

Then you will take the step to align the goals and action items with your purpose in order to ensure that you are always in alignment.  It is easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the actions and achievements that could cause you to lose sight of your purpose and values.  It is easy to get distracted and make the wrong turn.  Think about when you are trying to get to a certain new destination.  You set the destination into your Maps and click on start directions.  You are able to follow the instructions until you are distracted and only realise the mistake when you hear the “rerouting” phrase.  It is easy to get off track if we do not constantly pay attention and ensure that we are doing what we need to do that leads to the intended destination.

Routine that is consistent and that eliminates unnecessary decision making.

I am sure that you have heard about Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg’s clothing strategy which is basically the same colour and same outfit every day.  Why?  To eliminate decision making in the morning.  Of course, when I first heard about it, I thought, that’s crazy, how difficult would choosing what to wear be?  Well, it isn’t hard, but it can be time consuming.  Confession time, there are days, when I am staring at my wardrobe and find myself saying, “I have nothing to wear.”  So yes, I guess there is a problem and yes there is a decision to be made.  If you are suffering from decision fatigue, then maybe eliminating small decision making could help you.

The idea of a consistent routine is so that you don’t have to think about things that should not require any effort.  For example, brushing your teeth, taking a shower and eating breakfast, are habits that are built into your day, whether you realise it or not.  You don’t actually spend too much time thinking about.  In fact, you won’t spend any time thinking about it if you practice either one of this:

  • Do the same thing every morning which includes eating the same breakfast, wearing the same type of clothes, exercise the same route and so on.

Or

  • Prepare the night before what you are to do the next morning so that you don’t have to think about it in the morning.  For example, setting out what you want to wear, prepare your breakfast or set out the ingredients that you want to use, put out your exercise clothing and accessories that you would need.

Either of these practices will create routines that will help you to eliminate distractions and unnecessary decision making.

Start the day without drawing on your decision-making energy bank.  Decision fatigue is something that we encounter whether you realise it or not.  We are tired of having to make decisions especially if we are constantly making decisions even on the smallest and insignificant areas. 

One of my previous managers told me once, “in life, there are only a handful of major decisions that we have to make that will have significant impact.”  If you think about it, its very true, major decisions are made by answering questions like:

  • What do I study in college?
  • What career do I want to pursue?
  • Who do I want to get married to?
  • Life and death decisions
  • Financial decisions.

Whatever routine that you establish, needs to be practiced consistently and that eliminates as many small and unnecessary decision making as possible.  Decision fatigue is something we want to avoid especially at the start of the day.  You will need your decision-making strength throughout the day in order to make the right decisions not just in the workplace but in the home as well.  More importantly we know that as the day progresses, we get tired and tiredness is one of the main causes of lapse in judgement or poor decisions to be made.

Self-care routine.

There is always some form of self-care elements in successful people’s routines.  Self-care routines can be:

  • High Impact Physical activities such as walking, running, going to the gym, CrossFit and others.  Any activities that get the heart pumping.
  • Low impact physical activities.  Yoga, Pilates, and stretching are great examples of low impact activities.
  • No impact physical activities.  Mindfulness, meditation and prayers are some of these examples.

Personally, I think that it’s a great way to start the day.  I usually start the day with a morning walk for around 30 – 45 mins or when I have more time 2 hours of walk or hike depending on the day and how busy my schedule is.  I love my walk times as it is my quiet time to spend meditating, listening to music, reflecting, and just appreciating the simple beauty that nature provides. 

I am sure that you would also know that research has shown that exercising in the morning and getting sunlight in the morning are 2 of the best things you can do to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep.

Start the day with self-care routine that you can do consistently and that you enjoy doing.  For my example, check out lisalamcoach.com.

Let’s put it all together and see how your morning routine might look like.

  • 6:00 am Wake up time
  • 6:15 am Bathroom routine
  • 6:30am Quiet Time or Reflection time
  • Reflection:  Ask 4 key questions.  What went well, what did not go well, what will you do differently, what will you stop doing?  Write them down.
  • Planning:  Set out what is the day’s goals or key activities.  What do you want to accomplish with each meeting that you have scheduled or the people that you are meeting?
  • Alignment:  Align the goals and activities with your purpose to double check on the alignment and prioritisation.  It is easy to get lost in the key action items and drift away from your purpose over time if you do not constantly do a check and balance.
  • 7:00am Physical Activity of some sort.  During this time, listen to music or podcast, look up and appreciate the gift that nature gives you. 
  • 7:30am Get Ready to go to work.

So let’s put all of this together, the ideal routine for you should consist of intentional time to reflect and plan, routine that you can consistently practice and which eliminates unnecessary decision making especially in the morning and self-care management and practices.  If you are not happy with how your days have been, maybe it’s a great time to take a step back and see if any changes need to be made.  Alternatively, if you are happy with your routines but want to change it up, then this is also a great opportunity to do so.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this blog with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

Top 3 Evening Routines for the Most Productive You

In this article, you will learn what are the top 3 common evening routines elements of the most productive people.

I am Lisa Lam and my goals are to help you discover new ways to develop your skills, challenge perceptions and share experiences that you can learn from to enhance your everyday.  To find out more, check out lisalamcoach.com.

We are currently in the Productivity Series which as the theme suggests, we are going to be covering all things related to productivity ranging from routines, methods, tools, techniques, habits and of course my personal experiences. 

Why bother with being more productive or just to be productive?  The simple answer is that we want to be able to accomplish more.  We want to leave behind some sort of impact or footprint.  No one wants to just live to exist, but we all want to live a life that mattered.  It is like the age-old question “What do you want your tombstone to say about you?”  No one wants it to just say… Was Here.

As part of the journey to make a difference and be of significance, we must be able to manage the most precious resource that each of us has and that is time.  Time is finite and therefore the only thing that we are able to do is to control the things that we are able to get done within the finite resource of time.  To be more effective and productive matters.

To be clear, to be productive does not mean that you have to fill up every second of the day with “work” or that every piece of work that you do has to be of great impact or significance.  It does mean that we know how and what we are doing with the time that we do have.  Whatever we are doing, we are making the most out of it.

One could argue that the start of the day or the morning routine is the most important. However, just like the chicken and egg question, some would argue that the evening routine is where it all begins.  Why?  Well, you can start the day right if you end the day right.

Let’s take a look at the top 3 common evening routine elements of highly successful people.  Just do a simple search on Google and you will find tons of articles and research on this topic. 

Let me summarise the top 3 common elements that each of these routines have and they are:

1.  Down time. 

2.  Renew or recharge. 

3.  Journal and Plan. 

Let’s break each one down to see how you could apply it into your evening routine.

Down Time.

Down time is meant to help you to take a break from your day.  It also literally means time to put down the day and what your role or job requires of you.  You might have heard terms such as unplug, unwind, chill, relax and so on.  They all describe and aim to achieve the same thing which is time that is separate from your work.

One of the best ways to do that is to physically remove the tangible items that you have been using throughout the day.  The most common are devices, whether these devices are your mobile phones, tablets, computers, tools that you use for your work and so on.  The end of the day is meant for you to separate yourself from the day for you to get the rest that you need.

Renew or recharge.

I have no doubt that during the day it was full on, nonstop activities, meetings, troubleshooting, problem solving, and the list goes on.  Work that is both draining on your mind and physical body.  You need to rest, to renew and to recharge before the next day.  Just like any device, at the end of the day you need to plug it into a power source to recharge it.  You need to do the same for all your 4 energy buckets namely the body, mind, emotion and spirit.

Some common renew or recharge activities that people do are:

  • Physical activities that get the heart rate up.  You might hit the gym, HIIT, cross fit, tennis, running and the list is endless.
  • More relaxing activity such as reading a book or painting or playing a musical instrument of your choice and even playing computer games. 
  • mindfulness or meditation or prayer time.

The activity itself is not the important element but that you do spend some time to renew and recharge your body, mind, emotions and spirit.  Remember, you cannot be running or be on the go all the time.  There will come a point where you will need to stop and this comes as a choice that you make or your mind, body, emotions and spirit will make the choice for you.  None of us want to get to the point of a burned out, but that is exactly where you would be headed for if you do not take the time to renew and recharge and care for your 4 energy buckets.  The best way to not be productive is to run your down.

Journal and Plan.

Journaling is a great way to help your review, reflect and assess your day.  This is the habit where you will list down all your wins, what went well, what could have gone better, what you would do differently, what you are proud of, what you are grateful and thankful for.  End the day with a journaling habit.  I am sure that you have heard of a grateful journal and how powerful it can be.  I personally have one and I find that it is extremely powerful as it reminds me that no matter what sort of a day I have had, it is never as bad as I imagined it to be.  There is always something to be thankful for.  I just need to look for it.  This is a mindset game changer.

Along with journaling, you are able to plan the next day as well.  When you are writing out the day, you should write down all the ideas, the to-do list, the questions that you need to find answer to and so on for what you want to do the next day.  This is a great time to just capture all the list from your brains to paper. 

When your eyes are able to see and read the items, it is a physical representation of handing over the task to the next day.  Remember, your brain is not a good list keeper.  The more you capture your thoughts, the greater clarity you will have on what you need to do.  More importantly it will help you sleep better and your mind is not racing in a million directions  trying to remember and solve problems when you are in bed.

Let me summarise.

The common elements of the top 3 evening routines are:

1.  Down Time. Time to set aside the day. Take a break or lay down what have you been doing throughout the day.

2.  Renew and Recharge. Activities that are able to renew any or all 4 energy buckets. Activities that you enjoy and that you are able to sustain or do consistently.

3.  Journal and Plan. Time to reflect, assess and literally write down your concerns, worries, to-do list, and identify what you are grateful and thankful for.

How could this all look in your evening routine? 

  • If you currently do not have any one of those elements, try incorporating it in.  If you have never considered your 4 energy buckets of physical or body, mind or mental, emotions or creativity and spiritual, this could be a great starting place to think about which energy bucket needs to be renewed or recharged as you might been neglecting them. 
  • Take simple steps for example, do not be ambitious and sign up to the gym just because you now think that is what you need, but maybe try out walking around your neighbourhood.  Take small simple steps.  Don’t overwhelm or complicate the evening routine unnecessarily.
  • Do what you enjoy and activities that you are able to sustain over a long period of time. 
  • Try out different things until you can settle on one or two that works for you.

Remember, I have given you elements that are part of the productive evening routines and not the routines itself to follow.  The elements should guide you to what you might incorporate into your routines because it will need to work for you.  How long or how much time you spend on each element is up to you.  Adjust and vary to what suits you.  The goal is to have an evening routine that will help you to be at your most productive for the majority of the time.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

My Top 5 Daily Productivity Practices

In this article, you will learn personal productivity hacks, common attributes and methods that you can try out or apply into your everyday.

I am Lisa Lam and my goals are to help you discover new ways to develop your skills, challenge perceptions and share hacks that you can learn to enhance your everyday. 

My Top 5 Personal Productivity Hacks… What I practice daily..

Productivity is the name of the game.  Everyone wants to be more productive and for good reason.  Some of the benefits of being productive are:

  • Get more done!
  • Maximise the resources you have to produce the best possible outcomes.
  • Gives you focus and clarity.

What I have discovered with personal productivity are the following:

  • You define that productive is for you and only you.
  • It is a skill that you can learn and a muscle that you will need to develop.
  • It is a discipline for you to grow into.
  • It requires you to say No to short term gains or pleasures.
  • You are your own productivity guru.. So own it.

There are some common attributes that all personal productivity is based on and they are:

  • Acknowledge the finite nature of most precious resources and that is time.
  • Boundaries to eliminate distractions.
  • Choose the prioritises that aligns with your values.
  • Dedicated workspace or environment.
  • Eliminate timewasters or the nice-to-do.

There are some common productivity techniques that might interest you and they are:

  • Pomodoro techniques:  This technique is about breaking up work into segments followed by small breaks intervals.  The idea behind these segments or intervals is to help you keep your creativity or energy level at a certain level without feeling tired or bored.  The easiest way to think about the implementation of this technique is to remember that each interval is 25mins with a break of 5 mins and after going this cycle of 4 intervals, then a longer break.
  • Batching:  Batching similar task together that you are able to run through during a certain time block.
  • To-do list:  Have a list of items that you need to get done.  The to-do list should be everything that is running around in your mind that you need to get done.  Remember, your brain is not a good to-do-list keeper.  It is meant to be processing to-do and not as a list keeper.  So writing it down or putting it into some sort of a tool where you are able to then go through and process or execute them.
  • Productivity tools:  Calendar, Schedule management, applications that you need to use to do your work eg Microsoft Office suites and so on.
  • Single task and not multitask:  Research has shown that single tasking is more productive than multi-tasking.

Let’s summarise what I have covered so far:

  1. What personal productivity means to you?
  2. Common attributes that all personal productive are based on.
  3. Productivity techniques that are widely used.

For me, I have been on this constant quest to be more productive.  I have a mindset that I want to continuously learn new and better ways of getting things done.  I have read countless books of increasing personal productivity and I would recommend “Getting Things Done” by David Allen if you want to read just one book.  The reason is that he has a very simple outline and process of Capture, Clarify, Organise, Reflect and Engage.  The one key theme that I put into practice is that my brain is not a list keeper so capture every item that is running around in my mind and once they have been captured, then I am able to act on each of them. 

To put all this into my top 5 personal productivity hacks, this is what I practice:

1.  I have a dedicated place to work.  Not a big room or some fancy table.  In fact, just a simple small table with my 2 monitors (one in landscape and the other in portrait mode), writing pads and coffee (of course.)

2.  I practice the Pomodoro technique in terms of allocating 25 mins interval for writing, editing, recording, reading / researching, painting, practice piano and so on.  I take 5 mins break by hydrating or just running on the spot or stretching, some sort of quick physical activities.

3.  Single tasking.  I focus on one thing at a time and once I have completed that task, I will move on to the next task.  Basically go down the list of to-dos.

4.  Do the most impactful first.  This is my personal preference.  To complete what I consider the most impactful first and then moving on to the important and so on.

5.  Schedule everything that requires more than 10 mins and batch schedule the items that are similar and takes less time.  My schedule tool of choice is Outlook Calendar with color coded categories of course.

As a bonus I am also a firm believer of the Parkinson Law which basically states that work will fill up the time that has been allocated.  In another words, whatever time you have allocated to do so something, you will use it up.  For example, if I allocate 2 hours to complete writing up a business plan, I will use up 2 hours to do that.  If I allocate 30 mins to write up a business plan, I will complete that in 30 mins.  Work expands or contracts based on the time that you allocate.  Therefore, it is important that you know how you work and the time-wasters that could be hidden in the time allocation.

I have personally found that there are a few skills that are useful in enhancing or improving your productivity.  It has certainly been useful for me and what I do.  These skills are:

1.  Reading.  If you are able to read fast, then you are able to finish reading materials or books faster.  In my situation, the ability to read fast, enables me to finish researching materials or topics much faster.  Imagine, if you have to read a book which has an average of 50,000 words and if your reading speed is the average of 300 words per minute, you will need an average of 166 minutes to complete the book.  What if your reading speed in 600 words per minute?  You can now finish a book much faster and the time that you have “saved” you are able to do something else.  A good point to note or remember is that all leaders are great readers.  How does someone like Bill Gates have the time to read so many books?  I have no doubt it is because he reads fast.

2.  Typing.  In the same way as reading, typing speed is an underrated skill to have.  If you have to type out your projects, marketing plans, articles or books, imagine how fast you are able to complete your task if you are able to type faster.  I have personally found that being able to type fast helps in my writing but also just engaging the flow of my thoughts without having to wait for the words to slowly appear on the screen.  For example, the average typing speed is 40 words per minute.    If you had to complete a 1000-word project or assignment, on the average typing speed, you would need on average 25 mins.   What if you could type double or triple that speed?  You now have more time for your coffee break.

 By the way, I am still on the quest to increase my typing speed.  The challenge that I had for myself for the month of April was to increase my typing speed from the 70s to 100, so far, I am up to 96 words per minute.  I have already increased my speed by almost 40%.

3.  Creative outlets.  For me, to recharge my mind, I find that creative outlets are hobbies are extremely beneficial for me.  For me, the activities such as painting, bashing at the piano, cooking, and baking fall into that creative outlet category.  One of the great benefits of working from home, I can engage in any one of those activities during my “break” intervals.  When I was at work, I use to take walks.  The goal here is to replenish your energy stores.

Let me recap what I have covered.

1.  You define what productivity means to you.  Don’t try and follow someone else’s routine but learn what elements of the routine you could find beneficial.

2. Continue to explore new ways to keep your productivity level high and don’t be afraid to try out new techniques or methods.  Mix them up and see what works for you.  Productivity is a continuous journey and not a one time or fixed routine that you put in place.  It will and should change depending on you and your journey of growth.  Your style and pace of work will change over time and therefore your productivity hacks should change accordingly.

3.  Batch or time blocking method works.  Whether you implement the Pomodoro or Parkinson Law, this method does work.  At the heart of batch and time blocking is to help you focus and concentrate on the task at hand so that you can complete them with the attention and energy that it needs.

4.  Explore skills that can give you small incremental advantages such as reading or typing.  It might seem like trivial skills but believe me, they are useful skills to have.

Thank you for taking time to spend it with me.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this site with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose.