I’ve been reading the stories of young entrepreneurs recently to learn from what they’ve done. I was a little surprised when I noticed that increasing personal productivity was a common theme. (I guess it makes sense that those who are able to accomplish a lot in their lives are likely to cover the most territory.)
So I’ve come to a few conclusions.
I can’t do everything by myself. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do everything I want. I need to rely on tools to get me through—whether that’s an app I use to track my tasks or a filter I put on my inbox to remove emails I don’t need. I can relax and let technology be smart for me at times, because I can’t do it all.
I need to master what I have. (In this case I’m talking about tasks, but the same can be said for my professional skills.) The more I’ve read about being productive, the more I’ve learned about tasks—whether relavant or irrelevant to my life—that I can accomplish quickly. But I wasn’t doing all of that stuff before I started. For example, I’ve written about using IFTTT. I love using it, but I’ve signed up for social networks just so I can use IFTTT recipes. Instead of using that system making my life easier, I made it more complex. D’oh. Lesson learned.
I don’t need to make up a new system. A lot of people have been working on being more productive over the years. There’s good stuff out there, I just need to read good sources to read the great practices of others. I need to save my creative side for my work and learn from those who have already figured it out, because, even though I want to, I’m not going to write a program from scratch that will do my work for me. (Mostly because I don’t have that kind of job.)
I shouldn’t use the same productivity methods in my relationships. I made an agreement with myself that my relationships are more important to me that ticking a box off of a list. It’s one thing to want to accomplish tasks quickly, but friends, family, and coworkers should not be made to feel like a task.
As I wrote above, I need to use tools and I need to find systems that already exist instead of creating my own, which means I need to keep reading articles about people and technology that have it figured out. Here are some of the resources that I’ve found to help me with my productivity:
- LifeHacker — This blog is always full of resources for making life easier. I spend about an hour reading it every Saturday. So good!
- r/productivity — This is probably the best place to look for stuff that actually works since everything is user submitted. Though only a few posts are added to this subreddit everyday, they’re almost always worth the time to read.
- Lift — This is an iPhone app that puts habits into a slightly social space. It’s provides a great checklist for me to go through at the end of the day to see if I’m doing things in my person life to maintain balance.
- Siri — You may know Siri from the iPhone commercials, but she is even more wonderful than that. I recently had the idea to really use her as a personal assistant, and the results were incredible. Now I make my daily tasks lists while I’m driving in the car to work. I don’t have to take my eyes off the road even. By the time I arrive at work, I have my day planned out.
I’m currently on a forced three-week holiday. Apparantly, the law says I have to take my minimum holiday allowance, even though I don’t feel I need it. I believe we would be more productive as a society if we stopped taking such unnecessary time off.
I actually get more done at the end of an eight-hour shift than I do with sixteen hours of free time. If I’ve no work, I’ve nothing to get up for, so I end up being lazy. To counter this, I’ve given myself a non-negotiable structure to follow during the holiday.
I’m also influcenced by my dad who is self-employed. If he misses a day, he doesn’t get paid. It’s a work-life balance, in that work comes first.
A good portion of my vacation time is used one day at a time, and I’ve found that I’m more productive in the four days after a three-day weekend than I am in five days after a three day weekend.
I definitely agree with your structured holiday. That sounds like a great opportunity to get a lot of personal work done (because three weeks is far too long to “relax”).
A work-life balance for me is a little tough because a lot of what I do is done online and through email. If I don’t make a decision to ignore email after my eight hours of work, I can’t be productive in any other area of my life.