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Creating A Framework For Productivity

Creating A Framework For Productivity

    Something that has sped the development of awesome web and desktop applications over the past 10+ years is the idea of a technology or set of technologies coming together in harmony in what is known as a framework. There are many popular technical programming frameworks out there today like .NET for Windows, Ruby on Rails, or Zend for PHP. These frameworks help the programmer development applications rapidly and in much less time than it took before the frameworks were available.

    What these types of frameworks do is keep programmers productive by allowing them to concentrate on building their application rather than getting mundane and trivial things to work like database access, control usage, and even deployment in the environment the application will be used in. Without getting too-too technical, it’s pretty easy to see why frameworks are needed and appreciated by developers:

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    1. They keep mundane things out of the way.
    2. The give the programmer awesome tools to work with to get more work done.
    3. This allows the programmer to concentrate on creating her app rather than what language or technology she is using.

    Creating a framework for your life

    That being said, why don’t we take a lesson from software development and engineering and apply it directly to our productivity practice? The idea of Getting Things Done is to keep track of the more mundane and next action type of stuff to clear our heads so we can concentrate on creating rather than just checking off a list of unimportant or habitual things that need done.

    Developing a framework for your productivity can be just as liberating for us as a programming framework for coders. But what should this framework entail?

    The mundane and everyday

    One of the best tutorial ebooks I have read in the past year was Using OmniFocus by Kourosh Dini. This book should be bundled with the task management system OmniFocus because of its in depth setup of the system as well as some awesome insights about personal productivity.

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    Dini details how to setup some “Routine Maintenance” folders and projects that contain all of the routine stuff you have to keep track of. This forms the basis of the system and allows you to free yourself from simple things and look towards more creative actions and processes. He also discusses creating templates of repeated projects so you don’t have to weigh yourself down in the future with “boilerplate” types of processing.

    But what’s this mean if you aren’t an OmniFocus geek like myself? Well, you need some lists or reminders around that keep the mundane and everyday things off of your mind. Whether it be a morning, noon, and night checklist of things that need done, weekly reminders, monthly and otherwise; all you need is to set something up to remind you and help you from thinking that you are forgetting something.

    Before I was on the OmniFocus wagon I would have a repeating event on my calendar right before I left for work that had a simple checklist of things that needed done before I left the house. Things like, remember all needed school books, review your errand list for things that you need to take with you, remember your work ID, wallet, chargers and phone, etc. This simple, stupid list helped me keep the whole “I know I’m forgetting something” feeling away. This allowed me to concentrate on other bigger things that needed done in the day. It also allowed me to have my cup of coffee in peace and to actually relax before I entered my work day.

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    Taking care of the simple and mundane stuff everyday is a key part of creating your productivity framework. Without it, you will always have that sinking feeling that something is “falling through the cracks”.

    Creative tasks and doings

    Something else that I have found to be of utmost importance is to create repeating tasks for the creative parts of my life. These are things that I need to do everyday to keep my creative energy flowing and to allow myself to do something other than think about “real work”.

    There are a couple of creative tasks that I have now that repeat every single day including writing 750 words and working for at least an hour on my web app idea. This time is blocked out everyday, so no matter what I am doing two things that benefit my spirit and sanity.

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    Being productive and spending your energy on “real work” is great, but without having some “you time” your productivity framework can fall apart. Sometimes we just need to be selfish a little bit every day.

    From framework to getting important things done

    Now that you have created a framework of the mundane and creative things that you want to commit to every day, it’s time to clear them out of the way so you can concentrate on moving your projects forward and accomplishing your goals. Making these routine tasks a normal part of your day is the first step in creating a productivity framework for your life.

    The more that you don’t have to think about, especially the habitual and even boring stuff, the more you can concentrate on important aspects of your work and creating real value in the world.

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    Last Updated on October 15, 2018

    How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

    How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

    Do you sometimes feel that you add items to your to-do list faster than you tick them off? Do you spend most of your day worrying about your lack of time?

    The truth is, no matter how much we love our job, or how productive we believe we are under stress, there comes a moment when the pressure rises above boiling point. The sheer number of urgent tasks multiplies in a geometric progression. New possibilities no longer sound inspiring, they sound overwhelming and equal more work.

    If that’s where you are right now – keep reading! If not, it doesn’t mean you should wait until you get there to learn how to cope with a demanding work schedule and how to calm yourself down quickly when you feel overwhelmed.

    Here are 7 quick and easy tips on how to calm down when you are overwhelmed:

    1. Let go of a few activities

    Yes, it’s that easy! Take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself, “If I don’t do it today, will it matter a month from now?”

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    Not every urgent task is important. Just like not every important, high pay-off task is urgent. The best way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and to manage your time is to know the difference between the two and learn to simplify your life by getting your to-do list down to three big tasks.

    2. Take deep breaths to calm down

    This advice sounds so simple it’s often overlooked. But it works better (and faster) than any other relaxation technique out there.

    There is a direct connection between our emotional state and breathing. An anxious, frustrated or overwhelmed person breathes as if they have just finished running a marathon. A calm person breathes differently. Their breathing is deep, slow and steady. So when you have a panic attack, the best way to bring your heart rate down and to regain your cool is to change your breathing.

    Try this now:

    Take a slow, long deep breath in, filling your lungs with air and expanding your diaphragm. Hold your breath for four counts and then slowly release the air through your mouth. Repeat four times and notice frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed dissolve with each long exhale of these calming breaths.

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    3. Make “Just one thing” your mantra

    When we feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks on our to-do list, it’s easy to enter the ‘deer in the headlights’ state. You see deadlines approaching directly towards you, and you know that something has to be done about them, but you just don’t know where to start.

    The best way to get your mind out of an ‘inactivity trance’ is to create momentum. This is what makes the “Just one thing” mantra so powerful. It helps to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now, “or else.”

    Next time you feel overwhelmed make grabbing a cup of coffee your “Just one thing.” You can do it, right? Then come back, pick one of the smallest tasks on your to-do list and tell yourself you’ll do just that one task. This is your next “Just one thing” that you will concentrate on until it’s complete. After that you can move on to the next task and so on.

    It’s not “One thing at a time.” Saying this implies that there is a huge line of other tasks waiting to get done and that’s not the message you want to keep repeating to yourself. Learn how to focus here and stop getting overwhelmed.

    4. Reduce the multi-tasking and multi-thinking

    It’s been proven that multi-tasking is very inefficient, to the point of dumbing us down (more than smoking marijuana does). The same is true for multi-thinking, when your mind frantically jumps from one thought to another, trying to focus on and analyze several things all at once.

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    Fortunately, there is help. A few minutes of meditation or brainwave music is all it takes to start feeling more relaxed, more creative and less overwhelmed.

    5. Get moving

    Any exercise you engage in – be it walking or dancing to your favorite beat – helps to release endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones, through your body and to clear your mind.

    Staying active also increases your productivity, enhances your ability to combat stress and anxiety. It also helps you to release the tension, boosting your mood and changing the thoughts that induce the sense of being overwhelmed.

    The best part is you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get the mind-soothing benefits of exercise. Even as little as 15 minutes of dancing or jogging can go a long way towards making you feel better and staying calmer.

    6. Change your surroundings

    We all need and deserve to take vacations from work woes and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, spending two weeks lazing on a beach, toes in the sand and a Mojito in hand, is not always an option. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t take short ‘vacations’ from work stress and the technology buzz.

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    Go outside for a few minutes and enjoy the sunshine. Stop at a park instead of driving straight home from work. Sometimes changing your surroundings and ‘spicing up your routine’ is all it takes to change your perspective on things and find creative solutions to seemingly complex and overwhelming problems.

    7. Get some pet therapy

    Studies have shown what most of us already guessed – our pets can be a great help during stressful moments. Simple actions such as petting or playing with your dog or cat can lower high blood pressure, boost your immune system and boost your mood.

    Besides, pets can make the best conversation partners to share your frustrations with. They listen, they love you unconditionally and they never talk back or say, “I told you so.”

    Final thoughts

    Don’t wait for stress to hit you to start practicing these quick ways to calm down when you are overwhelmed. The best way to enjoy a worry-free life is not to push yourself to the limit of being overwhelmed and frustrated.

    Featured photo credit: Dardan via unsplash.com

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