Seth David's Guide to Being 150% Productive
Client to me: Hey Seth, sorry I haven't been able to get around to sending you that stuff you need. We've been running around like chickens without heads around here because we've been so busy.
Me to client: Hey, maybe I can help. I can show you how to use Slack with me, so that we can communicate more easily, keep track of conversations and more.
Client to me: Yeah, sorry Seth. We have a hard enough time keeping up with everything as it is. I think we're all "apped out" for now.
Luckily for the digital age, I can shake my head without being seen during these digital conversations. Some people will never get it. The above is like telling me that you don't have time to learn how to use a ladder, so you're going to keep jumping up and down obsessively until you're able to jump high enough to reach the roof.
We have to slow down to move ahead. Everyone should have a part of his or her day that is dedicated to feeding the mind. Some of that time should be devoted to learning new apps, so that you can save time by getting things done more efficiently.
There are many apps out there that will help you keep organized, when it comes to what you need to do and when you come to the point of working on a particular client or thing. Then, the challenge becomes scheduling which thing to do and when.
Oftentimes, I have a day to "catch up" on things, and I have no idea which thing to do first. At times like this, I will list out the things that are top of mind. Then, as I dive into each of those items, I can refer to the project management application to see what to do, now that I know which project I am working on.
I can organize my tasks by due date, or by project, and I can easily jump into any project with ActiveCollab, which is my project management tool of choice.
Once I start getting focused on one thing, and I shut out all distractions, I start saving time because I am getting things done much faster. The key is the focus. Distractions slow us down, and the distractions are easier to give into when your thoughts are unfocused.
So, how do we eliminate distractions and keep our focus?
First, let's deal with the obvious. You have to practice at being aware of when you're distracted. For most of us, it's subtle, and then we realize that our thoughts have wandered and we're 10 minutes into a daydream, or we find ourselves on Facebook reading things that either can wait or aren't important at all. The more you focus your awareness on this, the sooner you'll catch, and redirect, yourself when this happens. And, it WILL happen, so it's important to do this without judgment.
Here's what to do when you're so overwhelmed that you don't know what to do first:
Step 1 – Make a Short List
This is just a short, high-level list of the three to four things that are top of mind. Don't get bogged down in details – just what you need to do, and just enough for you to know. I use Workflowy for this.
Step 2 – Go Into Your Project Management Application
Next, head into your project management app. Your project management app should give you the ability to view all past due items by due date or project. Mine lets me do this, and I have the report memorized both ways. It may seem like you are about to get sidetracked, but stay with me on this. It's important.
Step 3 – Clean Up Past Due Items (just update the due dates)
While you're here, clean up your due dates. Anything that is past due needs to get reassigned to a date when you can either do it or re-assign it to the actual due date.
This will clear your head of the distraction made by the awareness that you have all of these past due items. And, if you keep this up daily, it will never be insurmountable.
NOW, you can focus on that first item on your short list.
Step 4 – Go Into the Project for the First Item on Your Short List.
Now, jump over to that project you're going to work on and make it full screen. This is the ONLY thing you're looking at, and the ONLY thing you're working on, until you get it done. The only windows or browser tabs that should be open on your computer are the things you need to get this task or job done. Period.
When I follow this process, I immediately feel de-stressed, and then my feeling improves because I am actually focused on just one thing (which, in itself, clears my head and relaxes me). Then, when I see how easy and fast it was to complete that thing, I start to recognize the benefits of NOT MULTI-TASKING.
Multi-tasking means you're just highly unfocused on a lot of things.
For more on Seth’s vision for being more productive and saving time, watch this video below: