Archives For Productivity

When working from your home office or regular office just isn’t cutting it anymore, try working from a cafe to give your brain a change of pace and get things done. It’s a good change of pace and the scenery can potentially unlock your rather creative and great ideas.

Using A Cafe As a 2nd Office Can Boost Productivity

Having a home office is great, but sometimes it’s just a place where you can’t get any work done. Whether it’s the kids, pets or constant feeling of being too cozy and unproductive … getting to a ‘work’ environment can certainly help you get things done. Same goes for when you work in a office regularly. If you’re getting constant interruptions, have toxic (to productivity) people around or even simply can’t concentrate in that office of yours: an cafe can be a rather welcome respite.

You should try going to cafe to work when:

  • You’re constantly distracted at your current work place.
  • Can’t seem to concentrate.
  • Need a change of pace & scenery.
  • Need a break from the “office life”.
  • You need to be alone for a while.
  • Looking for a place to get some new ideas.
  • You’re trying to get some inspiration.
  • You want to write or program and need some background activity/noise to get in the “flow”.

This isn’t a place for everyone though. A have a few friends who simply get overly distracted at a cafe and would much prefer a library or even their own cubicle. For me, and many others, the cafe is a welcomed getaway from the usual riffraff of the office.

At this cafe I’m able to work completely uninterrupted and more importantly, because I’m accustomed to writing and focusing on work at a cafe I’m able to get a lot of work done here as opposed to my office. I’ve gotten too comfortable in my office and there are way too many distractions. So instead of being bombarded by distractions and people, here I sit at a cafe writing this article in peace.

There are a few things to remember when trying to work at a cafe though:

  • Most likely, the noise will be annoying so bring headphones.
  • Charge your laptop and phone. Not every place has easily accessible power outlets.
  • On that note: bring power cables for the important stuff.
  • Be a good patron: support the cafe you’re going to spend several hours in by at least buying a drink.
  • Bring paper and pen/pencil so that you can write out ideas.
  • If wifi is questionable, prepare for that: bring a backup internet source (tethering through your phone is a possibility) and take as many resources/materials as you can (a large USB key or external hard drive are prefect for this).
  • Try not to take too many things with you. A heavy bag isn’t fun to drag back and forth.

Now get out there and get stuff done! Though let me know, what do you guys think of working from a cafe?

Turning the world ‘off’ could dramatically improve your life by removing so many distractions, stressors and problems. Part of this is getting away from all the social distractions, but a big chunk of it is finally being able to focus on one single task and get that done.

Turn Off The World To Dramatically Improve Your Life

You may think that multi-tasking get’s more done, but sadly it doesn’t. Priority management get’s things done, but the only way you’ll be able to do that is if you’re able to focus on one single task at a time. So what does that mean? Simply put, it means not getting distracted by social media, phone calls and email.

Before I get into the things you can do and the steps you can take to ‘turn the world off’, let me tell you why it’s a good idea (in detail) and why, as a side task, to schedule tasks during your day.

First off: Happy 2014! Since I’m writing this post on January 2nd 2014 might as well celebrate that. Yey! Now, back to business.

Why you should turn the world off:

  1. It’s good for you concentration.
  2. Improved focus.
  3. You get to finally focus on the ‘right’ tasks.
  4. You’ll take control over your personal and business life.
  5. Lowered overall stress.
  6. Relief of not being on other people’s time, and only your own controlled time.
  7. More productive work time.
  8. You’re not turned into an addict like Pavlov’s Dog for notifications/updates.

For me, those first four are the big ones. For you, it may be other things. Every person is different, though everyone will have at least better control their life and focus because of it.

Now you know why it helps, let me tell you how it helps.

Multi-tasking works for somethings, such as your natural body. Your body is breathing, pumping blood, looking, hearing and processing everything all at the same time. BUT, that is all at the unconscious level where it’s possible. They are all automatic, and very ‘simple’ things to do. While your unconscious mind is great at doing many simple things at once … it sucks at singular high process stuff. That’s where your high functioning self (your conscious self) comes in!

You, as in your higher brain (your human brain) is great at doing ONE thing at a time extremely well. Don’t believe me?

Do you REALLY think someone who is driving on the highway in rush hour, reading a newspaper, reading a book, drinking their coffee, talking on their phone AND putting on make-up is a smart person who will live long? I don’t think so. Heck, just try reading two things at one time. It’s not going to end well for you.

So why would you try do to the same things for work or your personal life? Maybe a more realistic example is necessary. Try the following:

  • Open all your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, ect…) in new windows and spread it around your desktop so you can see them all at once.
  • Open your chat programs and sign in.
  • Open your e-mail.
  • Keep your phone on and put it on loud.
  • Turn all notification windows, buzzes, sounds, pop-ups ON.
  • Put a big sign outside your office door that says: “Just pop in anytime and disturb me!” (ok, this one is a bit silly)
  • Turn on your favourite movie.
  • Turn on the radio (or music).
  • Turn on your favourite video game.

Now … try to get some work done. Do you honestly think you will? I doubt it. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones, maybe you will. But if everyone you know on all your social media accounts, chat programs and phone start trying to talk to you constantly through-out the day AND you keep responding to everyone AND you keep getting distracted by it … you really won’t get anything done. At all.

Now you know why this is important to do. That all said though, some of these aren’t possible for your work. For example, my wife currently has a contract with Sears where she has to have Skype open for team communications and updates. My sister is a military doctor and there is no way she can turn her cell phone off on regular days, and forget about when she’s ‘on call’. Then she really needs to be ready for whatever comes through the hospital doors.

So your mileage will vary on your circumstances. It’s ok. But try do minimize distractions where possible. So here are some steps you can take to ‘turn the world off’.

  1. Turn your e-mail program off.
  2. If you cannot turn your e-mail program off, Turn off e-mail notifications on your computer. No pop-ups, no sounds. Nothing.
  3. Even better, disable auto-update. Make it so that it will only pull new e-mails when you tell it to.
  4. Turn off your chat programs, or at least put them on silent or disable notifcations.
  5. Close your social media apps. They aren’t needed for work (unless your work is actually ON social media, but then only keep one item open at a time and work on that).
  6. Turn off your cell phone, or put it on silent. On android you can easily put it into complete silent mode. Or put it into airplane mode.
  7. Put your company phone into Do Not Disturb mode.
  8. Set ‘office hours’ where you will accept income phone calls. ONLY at those times will you pick up your phone. (More later on how to handle this if you work in reception or things like that.)
  9. Disable notifications on your phone. No sms notifications, no e-mail notifications … nothing. I believe both Android and iPhones can have set ‘do not disturb’ hours. On Android you can create a user profile for ‘work hours’ where all notifications are off.
  10. Close your office door and put a sign up telling co-works/others that they’ll have to come in at office hours and/or schedule an appointment to talk.
  11. Schedule work tasks for the day. For example, 9am to 10am calling prospects. 10.05am to 11am: writing new sales text. 11.05am to 12pm: e-mail (afterwards turn e-mail off again). 12-1 lunch. ect…
  12. Turn on some light NON-intrusive music that you can simply ignore and let it be completely in the background. For me, this is ‘epic’ music and classical when I’m writing. When programming it’s usually either epic music, techno, trance or lounge mixes. For business writing I like silence. For you? Well that’s whatever works for you. My wife for example can happily listen to alternative all day and work without problem. I get easily distracted by music like that.

Seems like a lot right? But it all can be condensed down to three simple items:

  1. Turn off notifications and distracting things.
  2. Schedule work items with time limits.
  3. Have something in the background that is NOT distracting and that helps you concentrate based on mood and work type (for example music, maybe a quiet talk podcast or no music, your choice).

So go out there, get more done in 2014 and live a better life!

What things do you do to help you be more productive and tune out the world? What works in your unique situation? I’d love to know!

The worst thing you can ever do is stop trying. You will stumble. You will fall. But in time, you will learn and grow. With the exception of the lucky try, you will fail a lot in the beginning. Even when you succeed you will still fail more and more because you try more and more. So why try? Because it’s those successes that make everything worth it.

Its OK To Fail. Actually, learn to be friends with failure.

Most of us weren’t straight A, 100% all the time students. Why? Because that’s a really hard thing to do. But more so, that 100% on everything all the time is near impossible and most of the time impractical … but that’s a story for another time. Since we weren’t always getting 100%’s on everything, what were we getting?

Hopefully you learned a bit in class, had some homework that you struggled through, messed up on, re-did and eventually took a small test to brush up on your skills. Slowly and surely your knowledge base expanded and you learned newer and better methods and ways to do the work, especially as new types of problems approached.

But the thing is, for most of us: we sucked at pretty much everything the first time we did it. And that’s true for everyone on pretty much every subject in school, in real life, at work and even in relationships.

Heck, once humans make first contact with aliens we’ll probably suck at that too!

But that’s ok! We’re not perfect and neither is anyone else, even if they seem like it.

Continue Reading…

There are so many TODO list manager out there that it’s hard to tell which is good or bad or even worth using. But this here is one that is not only the time tested champion of TODO lists, it’s overall ranked the best (there was a Lifehacker post about it, but I don’t remember where) TODO list manager … ever! So watch the video and let me know what you guys and gals think.

Time management is a topic so tough and gargantuan that it requires specializes courses at colleges like Harvard and MIT just to understand the basics. For those of us who cannot afford (in money or time) to go study productivity and time management we’re gotta help each-other out and figure it out ourselves.

Here we’ll talk about how to do this simple time management and productivity ‘tip’. And how to get it working with Open Office, MS Office (any version really), NotePad and ViM.

Continue Reading...

Getting Life Done   Coffee And TV Being a freelancer is not always easy. The biggest problem you will face as a freelancer is not competition, rude clients nor finding clients, it will be you. You yourself are your worst enemy in freelancing.

Unlike in a 9-5 job, as a freelancer you are your own boss, which usually is great. Though being your own comes with it’s own responsibilities, such as bossing yourself around. In a great article on FreelanceApple.com, the author says about controlling yourself and your drinking habits (about coffee):

Sleep, however, is probably the worst part of drinking caffeine containing beverages. There are 5 stages of sleep and “deep sleep” is in stage 5 where you are getting a real rest. Drinking coffee will rarely allow you to pass stage 4 and you will never enter stage 5 for your real rest. If you drink a cup of coffee, there is still a considerable amount left in your blood stream twelve hours later to disturb your sleep pattern. This just means that when you wake up you will need more coffee and will slowly be edging toward a full addict with only minute differences from a addicted smoker. Continue Reading…

Be More Productive With The Middle Way Method Productivity, or being productive as a person, is always an issue for us. Some people are better than others, though most of us could use a helpful nudge in the right direction from time to time. This is where the “Middle Way” Method comes into play.

Most productivity schemes are categorized into two sets, says Jordan McGilvray … a user on DIYPlanner.com:

From studying all these planning systems, I noticed that they fell into two categories: Top Down or Bottom Up. The first is Top Down Planning, and the Franklin Covey methodology provides a great example of this type, which says “Know who you are, and work from there to become who you want to be.” The second type is Bottom Up Planning, and Getting Things Done (GTD) system, follows this methodology. GTD is designed to clear all of the “Stuff” in your life, and process it effectively. However, I found that neither of these systems really work best for me. Over time, I kept track of what worked for me from each system, and I used that to create my own system, called The Middle Way Method.

For many top down works, for others bottom up planning works. Though if you’re a like me (and Jordan) neither of the two usual methods work, thus Jordan created the Middle Way. A culmination of all that is good and best of both worlds. The premise is a system that is stable, but adaptable; goal oriented but the days are planned, and you always have a vision to go forwards but is flexible to allow it to change with you.

I wish I could explain the whole system to you but Jordan did it best in a two huge articles. Not only is this great system, which I am implementing myself now, fully and completely explained in the articles; there are also a plethora of documents that you can download and use!

This is the first part to read: Introduction To The Middle Way Method

And here is the second part to read afterwards: Building A Custom Middle Way Planner

If you have any other methods or systems that work for you, or if the Middle Way method worked for you let us all know in the comments!