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Productive Interview Series: Andy Mitchell

Productive Interview Series: Andy Mitchell

Productive Interview Series is a quick four questions interview, targets on productive people who have been changing their work/life style with life hacks and self-development tips. The following are the answers from Andy Mitchell, author of GTDGmail.

Andy Mitchell

    Who are you?

    I am Andy Mitchell, best known as the humble author of GTDGmail and Bumble Search. I also go by other such titles as Engineer of Systems and Tinkerer of Businesses.

    I am a Brit, but a Brit who in the past two years has spent nearly as much time out of my country as in it. Thus all common stereotypes – be they tea at four, a penchant for colonising small countries, a passion for top hats and fopsy politeness, or indeed, tap dancing chimney sweeps – can be neatly sidestepped.

    What cannot be sidestepped is my personal organisation.
    I am disorganised.
    As with all problems, admitting it to myself was the hardest part. Since my ‘awakening’ several months ago, I have been enthusiastically – bordering on obsessively – attempting to reduce the overload. Wherever possible I have tried to share my progress with others.
    Which brings us neatly to this interview…

    What have you done to increase your productivity?

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    I gave myself a pretty rigorous interrogation, and eventually confessed my true working practices. If you read no more of this interview, I heartily recommend you at least work out your own ‘style’. In productivity, one size certainly does not fit all.

    Build a Framework…

    • Simple. Structured.
      I follow simple guidelines. Complex rules and massively long lists on ‘how to be productive’ are precisely the kind of clutter I try to avoid.

      If I use any software tools I only pick those that are straightforward. If I have to read a manual, or feel overwhelmed by the functionality, I get really rather angry. Your tools should be working for you.

    • Lay the Foundations
      The single greatest productivity aide I employ is to know what I am going to do next at any given place (a similar concept to David Allen’s Contexts and Next Actions).

      In particular, I like to decide what I am going to do the next morning, before I go to sleep. Otherwise, I wake up with all the mental acuity of Herman Munster and spend an hour scratching my head and wondering what I should do first.

      Forward planning is also great for getting more done – a.k.a. doing a better job. Take these two examples for planning to visit the gym:

      • I will go to the gym today
      • I will go to the gym at 8pm and do 30 minutes of running and 3 chest sets

      The first example means I may make it to the gym and will probably just have a nice chat and a sauna when I get there.
      The second example means I will go to the gym, and when I am there I am certain to have a great workout.

    Clear the Clutter…

    • Be regular and keep your system clean
      It is a fact everyone knows: spend just five minutes each day tidying and it will never get on top of you. So why do we not do it?
      In my case, it was “only five minutes? that can wait until tomorrow…”.

      My solution was simply to ‘get tough’.
      I picked the same time each day for a tidy up and stuck to it. In case I am too busy, I also picked a back up time (I am second-to-none when it comes to deluding myself that I’m too busy to do something).

      ‘Setting a time’ is a basic psychological trick, but it is certainly effective. Since removing the stress of clutter – both mental and physical – the sky has been bluer, the air fresher, and small children wave at me as I float past.

      Tidy Ups
      Typical tidy ups include condensing scattered notes into my wiki, tearing up finished hand-written diagrams and ideas, responding to outstanding emails and dumping any tasks/ideas that are still in my mind.

    • Decide what you least want to do. Do it
      If there was a task I did not like, I would find other tasks to justify not doing it. The very essence of procrastination!

      The problem is that the boring task would linger over me like an executioner raising his axe. It was stopping me fully concentrating on any other tasks. It was causing me to worry about not having done it.

      Tackling what you dislike is the not-too-distant cousin of David Allen’s two minute rule: you are clearing the niggles so you can focus on the tasks that matter.

    And for Extra Merit…

    • The Mega Mini Challenge
      I am most likely to procrastinate when there is no pressure; and for me, there can be no pressure unless there is a deadline in a few hours.

      Therefore, mundane daily events have to become deadlines. Lunch cannot be taken until X is done. The call of nature cannot be answered until Y is satisfied.
      It certainly sparks focus, not to mention weight loss and exemplary bladder control…

    • Embrace Procrastination (if you can’t beat it, join it!)
      So, you want to see if there is a new post on Lifehack.org? Then check it!
      (Bear with me, this is not an attempt at subliminal advertising…)

      Quite simply, if you deny yourself you will just become obsessed with it, and then you are no better off than if you had just checked it in the first place.
      The trick is to only spend a few minutes or less doing it… little & often!

      An excellent idea is to try one of the many personal timers that are available, and monitor your work habits. (I personally like the web-based SlimTimer). Record the bits where you are not working as you should. Do this for no more than two days – otherwise you will get bored and not do it properly.
      You may even find you waste far less time than you imagined – and thus your stress levels will come down even more.

    What is your best life hack?

    My favourite life hack – which has little to do with productivity – is the gym.

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    I have been engaging in a somewhat self-inflicting relationship with my local gym for many years; but it is only recently that I have come to appreciate the positive effect it has (beyond giving me the excuse to squeeze one extra bacon sandwich into my daily ritual).
    The biology is fairly straightforward – you train, you get endorphins, you burn fat and you feel accomplishment. This all leads to a nice sensation of confidence and control that lasts for several days.

    It is the last two – confidence and control – that make all the difference. They enable me to enthusiastically bluster through tasks and overcome even the stuff I have been putting off.
    Sadly, I only notice this when I have not been getting my daily dose. Without exercise, I get overwhelmed more easily and procrastinate more readily. And I do not get my bacon sandwich. Which makes me very angry indeed… (There is a distinct possibility that all of the above is hokum, and my complete productive existence is indeed tied to nothing more than a sandwich… the shame!).

    What are your favorite posts at lifehack.org?

    That would be “On Ho’ohiki: Keeping your Promises“.

    A short, sweet and perfectly accurate framework on the best way to remedy a broken promise. I particularly like the honesty – it does not encourage you to cover up your mistake but to actively address it.

    Previous Productive Interview was: Patrick Rhone

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    Last Updated on June 25, 2019

    A Dull Resume Can Kill Your Job Chances, Here’s How You Can Write an Appealing One

    A Dull Resume Can Kill Your Job Chances, Here’s How You Can Write an Appealing One

    Fun fact: Recruiters take only 6 seconds to view a resume, according to The Ladders[1]. In other words, to further show how you’re a strong candidate of your dream job, first you can’t fail to impress the recruiters with your resume in 6 seconds. So, think twice before you insert a dense block of words. Leave aside any irrelevant visuals. Still confused? Here, we will show you what to do to stand out from your competitors.

    We Think It’s Good to Write Our Resumes in These Ways (But Actually It’s Not…)

    The More, The Better

    It is common for us to think the best way to impress the recruiters is listing all our accomplishments in life. So we select the narrowest margin and the smallest font size. We just try every possible way to put everything about ourselves in our resumes. Well, it may sound bit dramatic but the fact is more doesn’t mean better.

    As suggested by J.T. O’Donnell, author of the book Careerealism: The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career, it is an EPIC FAIL to get everything to fit on one page.

    Myth of “Reference Upon Request”

    We should sound polite and humble in the resume and we are well aware of it. That’s why most of us put “Reference upon request” in our resumes. But if the employers are curious about your references, they will look for them themselves. To be frank, it is a waste of space to put these words at the very end.

    Irrelevant Working Experience

    Just imagine you’re now applying for the post of auditor and under “Working Experience” you write “Employee of the Month at Cafe ABC”. Will this earn bonus marks for you? Not really.

    While we think the recruiters would favour the candidates with more working experience, from their perspective, they may wonder if you’re creating a general template for the application of different kinds of jobs, and even question your sincerity and ability.

    Never Underestimate the Power of Your One-Page Resume

    Resumes determine your chance to be selected for interviews. There are a number of qualities employers are looking at in your resume. Education Background. Working Experience. Achievements. But what do all these mean to them?

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    Introduce you a key term: Employability. Employability is more than ability, competence and skills. And your resume reflects your employability.

    It’s not a rare case that when two people with highly similar qualifications apply for a position, only one of them is selected to attend the interview. It’s how they present their qualification in their resumes that makes the difference!

    A well-written resume can let the employers know you are the one they are looking for, rather than you are just one of the hundreds qualified for the job.

    Resume demonstrates your written and presentation skills. Whether you can describe yourselves in a concise, organised yet impressive way can tell a lot more than the qualifications you have. This is part of what an employer will look at, and you may not even notice that.

    6 Elements that Form the Killer Formula of Your Resume

    1. Quantify Your Achievements

    How? Describe your achievements in numbers, instead of words. And it’s not about how many points you include, but how the numbers reflect your contribution in your previous jobs.

    Why? Only you know how much you achieve in your previous jobs. It’s difficult for recruiters to find it themselves. Thus, do them a favour by providing the figures and numbers that quantify your previous achievements. This is definitely better than recounting the job responsibilities of your previous jobs.

    Example Mention the exact number of participants in the event your held. Or the amount of money involved in the campaign. If you are applying for a marketing position, talk about the view count of the project instead of vague and general expressions like “excellent reception”.

    2. Properly Use the Magical Buzzwords

    How? You can actually do a little trick to impress your employer by the use of buzz words. Do a short research in advance before submitting your resume.

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    Check out the words that appear the most in the company’s description, vision or mission. And then use these words to replace the stock phrases in your resume.

    Why? Ever heard of like-attracts-like theory[2]? Using words that they like to use can greatly arouse their interest on you as they think you share similar beliefs with them. Although you only change a few words on your resume, your odds of getting an interview may increase a lot.

    Example Understand the company’s values and include similar ideas in your self-description to show you’re a potential best fit for the organization.

    Besides, buzzword techniques can be used in different fields. While applying for a marketing position, use field-specific words like “marketed” and “promoted” to demonstrate your marketing sense.

    There are always words that are specifically used in certain fields. Playing a tiny word game may win you a ticket to the interview!

    3. Associate Yourself with Big Names

    How? If, by any chance, you have collaborated with any big brands (even with the slightest connection), put those names on your resume!

    Why? It’s the power of authority. Your credibility and competence are immediately boosted when you are connected with a big name.

    According to Cialdini’s principles of persuasion[3], people respect authority and would follow their lead. Associating yourself with big names can work as a proof of your capability.

    Example Is any client of your campaign a world-renowned brand? Is the sponsor of your scholarship a big name? Is your publication featured in any popular media? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, don’t hesitate to put the names on your resume. You won’t believe how much it helps to boost your credibility.

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    4. Provide Description of Where You Worked Before

    How? Sometimes, the recruiters may be unfamiliar with your old companies. Why don’t you offer a helping hand instead of having them look for the information themselves? Write a neat and concise description of your previous companies and spare the work for the recruiters.

    Why? The title “Manager” can mean a lot differently in a large company and a small one. Employers are curious about the nature of your previous companies to know more about your working background and the work you were involved. Besides, it shows you are detail-minded and consider the needs of the readers of your resume.

    Example Simply go to the “About Us” of the home page of your previous workplace and rephrase one or two lines from it. This will do the work.

    5. Use Bullet-point Instead of Text Blocks

    How? List your job duties in points instead of in paragraphs. Moreover, it is also nice to limit your number of points to 2-5. Only keep the important and relevant information on your resume.

    Why? Still remember the 6-second rule? Within this limited period of time, it is impossible for the recruiters to grasp the gist of your resume from your sea of words. Making your resume too wordy actually affects its readability.

    Example

    WRONG – “I worked as the Public Relations Manager at Company ABC during the period X Aug 20XX to X Mar 20XX. I was responsible for handling public correspondences. I was involved in a campaign in collaboration with the …”

    GOOD – “Public Relations Manager, Company ABC X Aug 20XX – X Mar 20XX

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    – Handling public correspondences

    – Involved in a campaign in collaboration with the …”

    6. Make Use of Space and Formatting to Draw Attention

    How? There is always something you want the recruiters to focus more. A carefully planned layout can draw their attention to the points you want to highlight. Leave some space around the important points.

    Why? We all know recruiters won’t spend much time on reading a resume. And they may feel numb after reading hundreds of similar resumes. So keep yours pleasant to read and feed the recruiters with the most valuable information. Don’t waste their time and they will reward you with what you deserve.

    Example Prioritise information based on their relevance and noteworthiness. Leave the less crucial and conspicuous information at the later part of your resume. Proper formatting can also help highlight the important points. It can be done by italicising or bolding certain words. Did you pay more attention to the words with formatting in this article? Apply the techniques in your resume and see how they work then.

    Nice Resume Examples

    Lastly, we’ve prepared some good resume templates for you to follow. If you are struggling hard to begin, it may be the ideal place for you.

      Credits to: AGCareers

      • Note the use of quantification of achievements and bullet-points.

        Credits: BusinessInsider

        Reference

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