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Productivity Karma: Be Good, Or Your Actions Will Come Back to Bite You

Productivity Karma: Be Good, Or Your Actions Will Come Back to Bite You

    Often when an individual decides to fix up that area of their life that has to do with getting things done, they make extensive changes to themselves; the way they act, the way the run their lives, the way they behave and communicate with others. And sometimes, the “productivity machine” — that is, the massive industry out there that promises to tell you how to solve all your problems with time and tasks — turns these people from happy, friendly people, into… well, I’m sure that kind of language is uncalled for here. Let’s just say selfish, hmm?

    Karma usually bites these people in the backside.

    This isn’t karma in some mystical sense. This is purely logical and practical. If you exhibit certain behaviors and patterns in your communications with others, you’re saying, “This is okay, this is fine. You can do this too.”

    And yet, people who are trying to get more done in less time make these mistakes, and usually (perhaps even hopefully?) end up paying the price. Make sure you’re not making them yourself, or we won’t feel sorry for you when the world comes crashing in on you with pitchforks and knives!

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    Don’t be brief to the point of rudeness when you’re trying to save time on email.

    If an email crosses your inbox that may be about a subject that the sender finds sensitive, then it can be pretty rude to reply in the curt and brief manner that most of us try to adopt. That’s not to say you’ve got to write a book to protect somebody’s oversensitivity, but it does mean you could throw in a simple, “Hope you’re doing well and know that I’m here to talk if you need it,” or whatever suits the situation, at the end.

    Of course, if you’re not here to talk, don’t say that. Be honest. But don’t be cruel.

    Your time is important, but it’s not more important than making someone’s day that much more bearable by investing a few more seconds into your communications.

    If you don’t want to be carbon copied on everything that goes on in your company, don’t carbon copy everybody else on irrelevant junk.

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    Some people — usually the ones who skip the wealth of material available on effective email communication — figure that by CCing everybody in the company on their emails, they’ll have to repeat themselves less and things will get done faster.

    As I mentioned earlier, “karma” kicks in when you teach people how to deal with you through your own actions. Guess what? Those few people who weren’t copying you on their messages have certainly begun, because evidently you like having a good barrage of crap in your inbox to start the day with.

    Good luck getting anything done now!

    Don’t put your productivity above others to the point where you create more work for them in your own attempt to ditch it.

    This point here is similar to the notion that you create patterns when you exhibit patterns by breaking the rules you would impose, but the difference is that this is more malicious.

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    Some of you might find it hard to believe, but more than a few people who have enjoyed the reduced burden and stress that occurs when you delegate a task to an employee, colleague or assistant (virtual or otherwise) decide they enjoy it so much they’ll create more work for others in their own attempt to ditch it. Not because it’s the other person’s job—but because they like the feeling of palming that task off and calling it “productivity.”

    If you do this, you suck. Plain and simple.

    I’m sure you’re starting to get the point.

    At the end of the day, it comes down to not piling other people up with work that isn’t their work just to save yourself some time, and following the same policies you ask of others when you’re communicating with them. That’s generally called “etiquette,” “manners,” and other various things my rather cynical soul says are rare in our society.

    I sum it up this way:

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    Don’t forget others on your road to productivity.

    Sometimes productivity advice leads people into this mindset that their own time is more important than other people’s time. That’s not to say you shouldn’t hold your time as sacred and fiercely defend it when it is preyed upon. You certainly should, because other people are the number two enemy of true productivity (the first being yourself, of course). But it’s too easy to forget that other people have work to do and lives to live and, in an effort to save yourself some time, cause a major inconvenience on someone else who has their plate full at work and a family to attend to (and even, perhaps, if they’re lucky, enjoy) when they get home.

    The constant pursuit of productivity can sometimes get so misguided that it brings us to a point of selfishness and malicious action. Ask yourself this when you feel you may be going down this path: why did I decide to improve this area of my life called productivity in the first place?

    In my experience, disregard for others in the pursuit of a goal is usually the result of losing sight of the motivations behind that goal. I don’t know exactly why this disconnect prompts this behavior in people, but it comes down to the means becoming more important than the ends. The ends are the motivation for the means, and the means is nothing more than a way of achieving that.

    It can go both ways, though. As that irritatingly cliched saying goes, the ends don’t justify the means.

    Be a good productivity geek this week. Earn yourself some positive productivity karma.

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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