We all know people like this. I’m one of them and if you’re reading this I’ll bet you’re one too. One of those people who thinks they have their system working well but are convinced there’s a way, a tool, or a technique out there you haven’t found yet that will make you just a bit more productive. We tinker. We tune. We try to go from 90% to 91%. Why can’t we just leave well enough alone and get things accomplished?
Based on the years I’ve been working in the productivity space I’ve noticed a few common threads among people who tinker with their productivity systems: FOBO, change, inspiration, and frustration.
It’s that time of year where holidays come into our schedules and time off looms as the double edged sword of relaxation and stress. Do you have a process for making your time off more relaxed and still being productive when you get back to work? Here’s three easy steps to take before you leave for a holiday.
1. Fill your first day back.
Make sure you plan out your first day back before you leave for the holiday. The worst thing for you coming off vacation euphoria is spending the morning trying to figure out what you need to do. Filling the schedule of your first day back with productive activities means you’ll be able to pick up with being productive without losing time processing new items. Once you’ve made some progress then you can begin processing again.
2. Avoid meetings on your first day back.
Meetings suck the productive lifeblood out of us. Try your best not schedule meetings for your first day back and especially not the first morning. Keep the time to regain your momentum and return to your flow. Knowing you don’t have to spend your first day sitting in meetings will reduce your stress both during and after the holiday.
3. Check when an email was sent before prioritizing.
If you have to check your email or just can’t help yourself, check when the incoming email was sent before prioritizing when you will handle it. In many cases the emails are sent by people clearing their inboxes before they leave for the holiday. Just because a couple of days pass because of a holiday doesn’t mean the email should receive any more urgency than one sent at the end of the day the day before.
Holidays are our chances to clear our heads, refocus, and unwind from work so we can be more productive. Short circuiting this benefits no one, especially yourself.
So productive people…enjoy your holidays!
At the client I am working currently I have been parked at a sitting desk for the past four months. Prior to this I was working from home and could stand and work when I liked (not easily, but I could make it happen.) As of last night I received the new standing desk attachment for my desk to allow me to do just that…stand and work.
There are dozens of stories about the benefits of standing and working, from improved circulation to enhanced mental clarity. Personally I’m looking to see how well my concentration holds up, my physicality supports standing all day (or most of it), and does this help my mental focus. Do I have a hypothesis? No, aside from the fact it should be much more difficult to be drowsy after lunch when I’m standing up…but that is yet to be proven.
Changes we make to our physical work environment can give us a temporary spark of productivity and surge of energy in being productive. The challenge is does it continue over time or does it drop off significantly and leave us back where we started. The same analysis can be applied to productivity tools and processes. Does the new tool keep us moving forward or does it drop off quickly as our short attention span falls by the way side?
When evaluating our personal productivity solutions, and yes the physical is just as important as the mental and procedural, we need to consider what will happen should the experiment fail. When I think about it more, the better way to look at the results is no experiment is a failure. Following the Edison model, you’ve just found a way that won’t work for you. You can move on to something new or move back to something tried and true (rhyme unintentional.)
Make sure when you’re tinkering with your personal productivity solutions you have a fall back plan (with a standing desk that could be literal) in case things don’t work out. If you’re not sure how to approach adjusting your solution, ask. You can stop by the Being Productive group on Facebook if you would like some ideas and feedback on ways to improve your own personal productivity solution.
Now, productive people…back to work. 🙂
There is a recognition in the analog journaling community that the physical nature of the journal can be a single point of failure when it comes to the information you keep. For some, the chances of losing their journal are slim, for others, much more likely. Personally I have found my challenge comes not only from not having a specific journal with me at a given time but also the frequency at which I prefer to change notebooks (yes, I am a stationery geek.)
Recently I asked the Bullet Journal for Professionals group on Facebook what people would do if they no longer had their analog journal through either loss, destruction or theft. There were a range of responses demonstrating the critical nature of these journals for daily productivity:
2. cry some more
3. sit down with a piece of paper and write down every to do that i can think of that wasn’t completed
4. Curl up into a ball in the corner and sob uncontrollably.”
5. Go to the pub!
What is most interesting is even with these responses of distress, almost everyone had a plan for backing up their journals digitally, by either re-entering information into digital systems or, the most popular way, through digital images of the pages for storage and retrieval.
If you decide you are going to live the analog life when it comes to journaling, I highly recommend you find a method of archiving and backing up your paper that works for you. Whether it’s digital images, scanning, or just copying things down somewhere else, having a Plan B for your information is the only way you can truly have confidence in your system.
When it comes to a technical method of backing things up I use two different tools: my phone and my printer. I can never be sure when I will have time to capture the contents of a notebook so by using my phone to capture scans to Google Drive (my storage system of choice) I can feel more confident things are there should the worst case happen. My printer comes into play because when I purchased my printer I specifically bought one that allows scanning directly to Google Drive (see the plan coming together?) With the printer on hand, I can scan page after page of journal and other documents to my library with no risk coming from the loss of the physical materials.
There are many different ways to back up your analog journal. It isn’t nearly as important how you do it as it is that you do it at all. Don’t be the person crying in corner of the pub because the dog ate your journal. Be prepared.