Last week I was at a conference where we heard a keynote address from Mike Vardy, who’s a speaker and creator of the site Productivityist. If you’re into productivity/life hacks/learning how to make the most of your day, DEFINITELY check him out. It
was one of the coolest talks I’d ever heard. It was kind of serendipitous that I got to hear this talk, because over the past few weeks I’d just been feeling “blah” about my work. I felt like a hamster on a wheel. I was getting all of my day to day stuff done, but felt like
I was making no real progress on long-term career goals. Mike gave a lot of great advice, and I wanted to share a few of the key takeaways that I learned. They include:
- Get it all out of your brain: Mike explained that our brains get so overwhelmed as we try to store tons of information that they reach maximum capacity. To fix this, he suggested getting as much information out of your head as possible. Let’s say you’re working on a project and think, “Oh crap, I need to call John and tell him XYZ.” Instead of making a mental note, physically write it down or write a note in your phone. Don’t trust your brain to remember.
- See the value in long-term stuff: We’re all pressed for time, and because of this it’s easy to focus on what needs to get
done in the immediate here and now. Who has time to learn a new skill? You have 30 e-mails you need to answer! That’s a bad approach though, because you’re not helping yourself to grow and develop your career long-term. Keep the focus on the day-to-day stuff, sure, but don’t devalue the projects/tasks/subjects that will help you to grow and develop in the coming years.
- Don’t be a slave to e-mail: I’m so guilty of this. Instead of checking e-mail in between projects, I check it every single time a new message comes in. While this may not seem like a big deal, it breaks up your train of thought and causes you to lose focus, even temporarily as you click away from your inbox and back to the task at hand. Instead of letting your e-mail dictate when you check it (as soon as a message comes in), you set the terms and conditions. Are you going to check it every hour? Every two hours? Once you finish a task? Make it a point to stick to that. It’ll keep you from getting distracted as you try to remember what it is you were thinking/doing before you clicked on that message.
- When you can’t think of what to write, just sit. Don’t bounce around on the Internet: This is another bad habit that I’m trying to break. When I’m working on a project and I can’t think of what to write next, I’ll immediately open up a billion tabs and fall down the Internet rabbit hole. Ten minutes later I’m back and ready to write another paragraph. Rinse and repeat. Nope. Not anymore. Instead, when I need to think of what comes next, I just sit. Like a human. Who’s thinking. When an idea comes to me, I keep going until I have to sit again. It seems so dumb, but it makes a huge difference. I didn’t even realize how much time I was wasting simply because I needed to take a minute to think and wasn’t giving myself that time.
Do you have any productivity tips that make your day more focused?