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Focus on the Process and Not the Tools to Get Things Done

Focus on the Process and Not the Tools to Get Things Done


    We live in an incredible time. Thanks to the genius of Steve Jobs, the way we communicate, the way we get things done, and how we look at design have been dramatically changed forever. That is the upside. The downside of course is that through the creativity of app developers across the world, we have a tough time deciding which app will best help us become more productive. We end up spending more time finding the right app and less time getting things done. The result is something I like to call “App Attention Disorder”!  In this post, I will talk about how combat this problem by focusing in on the process and not the app.

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    The problem with getting things done on a smartphone app is that some very smart developer created a program designed the way he or she thinks we want to be more productive. The downside of course, to no fault of their own. is that we end up “hacking” their app. We tinker. We tweak. We complain on their site that there is no:

    • sub-projects
    • workspaces
    • due dates
    • notifications
    • integration with Google Calendar or Google Tasks
    • sync with Dropbox or iCloud or Evernote
    • …and the list goes on

    Feeling as if we can still force a square peg into a round hole, we continue to tweak. Eventually, we realize we have spent more time playing with the app and less time actually tending to our commitments. So how do we get around this epidemic to our productivity? By focusing on the process and not the tools.

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    Whether you are a follower of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology, Pomodoro technique, Personal Kanban, Franklin Covey, or some combination of all of these plus your own system you’ve invented, stick to it. Research them all to figure out what will work best for you and then choose one organizational system and become a master of its principles.  Make the process a habit. Once you’ve picked a workflow, the question becomes of course, but which app do I use? In my consulting work, I always tell folks to focus on the process and the tool will come to them. What if we didn’t have an iPhone or Android? What if you just had paper? How would you organize your tasks, projects, and goals?

    Take a giant step backwards and ask yourself these big questions:

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    1. What few things must absolutely go right in order for you to have a productivity workflow that works for you? 
    2. What challenges have you had in the past?
    3. What has gone right for you?

    Being able to honestly answer those questions will allow you to better understand which app (or paper) may work best.  That is the key: just knowing what works for you and what will keep you motivated and productive in conjunction with a structured time management system will help you best understand what tool(s) you need to help you get things done.

    Once you get that right, you will undoubtedly have a “mind like water” and will be well on your way to getting things done!

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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