How many posts you’ve read about productivity recently?
And how often you see those online?
Probably a couple of times a week unless you are on the knitting space.
I see them a lot!
And what crosses your mind after reading such a post?
Is it this? “Yes, this is what I should defiantly do! That will increase my productivity! I’d be able to work like a machine!”
Why productivity tips never work?
Well, I got some bad news for you. We are human. It means that we are inconsistent, undisciplined and just slack sometimes. But hey, is it really such bad news for us?
I’m not sure actually. It means that we can be flexible with what’s happening in the world, or able to react to urgent things we need to do, or just enjoy the moment sometimes.
So, how those productivity posts really help you?
It helps you fantasizes about the perfect schedule where EVERYTHING works as you wish, on time and moves forwards. ALWAYS!
Well…It doesn’t work this way. Life is about balancing.
Balancing your work times, balancing your personal time and also on those specific times know what’s, important, urgent and what’s a waste of your time. You need to know what will lead you to the real goals in your life.
What’s the best way to balance your life?
The basic way of addressing this is thinking of your roles in life. What kind of roles are you taking on yourself in your life. Here are my roles as
Here are my roles as an example, I’m:
- AppInChina.co founder,
- Startup Noodle founder
- Father and husband (Family role)
- Self (These are thing I do for my self-improvement; Exercise, learn new skills, etc)
- China business Cast co-host
- Lean startup Beijing Meetup Organiser.
Thinking about the things you want or need to do in term of these roles helps you out. This is because you know that if you’ve “touched” all those during the week, you’ve balanced them all out.
You’ve taken care of your professional life different roles and your personal life different roles. This is how nothing gets neglected.
Assign goals for your roles
Ok, what do we do next?
For each one of these roles you assign goals. Goals are important as they show you the way of where you are heading. You wouldn’t want to be on full force towards achieving something, but then discover you are working to accomplish the wrong thing on the bigger picture.
On an ongoing basis weekly and monthly goals works best probably. BUT, it’s important to understand that these goals need to be aligned with your life goals. What kind of person you want to be, what kind of life you’d like to have. If all your weekly and monthly goals are tied to your life goals you know you are in the right direction for what you really want for yourself.
What kind of person you want to be, what kind of life you’d like to have. If all your weekly and monthly goals are tied to your life goals you know you are in the right direction for what you really want for yourself.
Here are some of my goals for the week along with their roles, when writing this post:
– Finish 7 exercises of Copy Hour which is an excellent copywriting course I recommend (Self)
– Launch Mastermind page for Startup Noodle (Startup Noodle founder)
– Speak with more app publishing companies (AppInChina Founder)
– Prepare questions for an interview recording next week (China Business Cast co-host)
– Spend coming weekend with family (Family)
– Have lunch with my best friend (Friend)
These were my weekly goals.
Then come the tasks
Then I need to break them down into tasks during the week that leads to that goal.
As an example:
I have daily task on my calendar to finish single Copy Hour course exercise, so at the end of the week I’ll achieve my weekly goal of finishing 7 Copy hour exercises.
This method I’m talking about is outlined in the book:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
I read this book a few years ago .Then as far as I remember I probably haven’t finished it back then but decided to read it again recently which gave a good boost to my motivation to be more planned.
The 4 generations of time management
Stephen R. Covey talks about the 4 generations of time management for managers around the world with the main idea that you should “organize and manage by priorities”.
The 1st generation of time management characterised by writing notes and remarks, trying to give notion to the tasks we need to do and put it as part of our lives (Must say I don’t fully get this explanation of the 1st generation so much and what he means by that, but the next “generations” he talks about are much more interesting).
The 2nd generation is characterized by using calendars and diaries. These tools are trying to foresee what suppose to happen and according to that plan events and future activities.
The 3rd generations is reflected in time management as we see it today. We use priorities and values. We are making sure the priorities we assign are according to our values. In addition, we assign goals for the short, medium and long terms.
The 3rd generation tries to control our time as much as possible and plan as much as possible. We try to be very effective with everything we do and know exactly when to start and end a task.
This is why I think many of us relate to very strongly to what I stated at the beginning.
Yes, this is what I should defiantly do! That will increase my productivity! I’d be able to work like a machine!
But then… we miss something very important in life which is what makes us human and not machines. We lose the spontaneity in life and being “at the moment”. All this over planning makes people stay away from time management. It’s not natural for us.
The 4th generation acknowledges the fact that “time management” is the wrong term as Stephen R. Covey says. The real challenge is not time management but self-management. Our satisfaction comes from expectations and fulfilling them. We would like to preserve our relationships and strengthen them along with getting the results we need in the most effective way. We focus not only on the tasks themselves but also the ability to produce more with our time.
Our satisfaction comes from expectations and fulfilling them. We would like to preserve our relationships and strengthen them along with getting the results we need in the most effective way. We focus not only on the tasks themselves but also on the ability to produce more with our time.
I’ll explain that with an example:
Let’s say I need to work 12 hours a day to complete my tasks for today, but I understand that I also need to preserve my well-being and exercise to be more effective then I can perhaps exercise each day for 1 hour and then be more focused on my tasks and finish them in 8 hours. So,
So, in total I invested 9 hours on achieving these tasks and not 12. But for that I had to “give away” part of my work time to do something else which was not work but indirectly helped me achieve that. I got to be more effective!
The Importance of balance
This brings me back to the balance I mentioned before. If you invest on your well-being, spending time with family and friends and exercising regularly you’ll then be more effective and productive so overall achieve more (not to mention that most of the time being with family and friends is much more enjoyable than work time).
How do you manage all this?
Everything I mentioned here is hard to implement, I agree. You always need to assign goals, decide on tasks and balance your roles. That’s cumbersome.
You always need to assign goals, decide on tasks and balance your roles. That’s cumbersome.
But, here is the thing. A few years ago, I bumped into a tool called Weekplan and started using it. I then forgot about it, probably because it was too hard for me to manage my life accordingly. But now after re-reading the 7-habits book, I looked it up again.
Weekplan, is a tool to manage your life according to the book. It was created by Aymeric Gaurat-Apell and is run by him as a single co-founder. It’s pretty impressive what he achieved alone with a group of freelancers.
A Note for you Aymeric, It was VERY hard for me to recall what your tool name was and find it again after such a long time. Better branding and social media will probably do the work as it’s a shame there won’t be more people using it.
Here is how my roles and goals look for this week.
Then I have my tasks assigned for each goal with a special color.
There are many more aspects in the book that are reflected in Weekplan such as writing your life goals, which I mentioned briefly, along with classifying tasks according to quadrants of important vs. urgent. I can add more about this on another post, If there will be requests from the readers.
I can add more about this on another post, If there will be requests from the readers.
My tip is: They work great together!
Now Over to you
Which productivity tools are you using? And what you think are your struggles with being more productive?
Image bredit by Steven Zwerink