Loading...

Category Archives: Productivity

w23-email

3 Email Hacks That Can Save You An Hour Per Day

Original guest blog on Thrive Global!

Let’s talk about your time-management and productivity hacks. Like those, you can save 30-60 mins by using them, and you might even enjoy this monotonic and boring task. Instead of annoying intros, let’s see some statistics and hacks:

Half of the people usually give up after one email follow up. However, the average number of successful emails is 8, which means eight follow-ups!

Watch the vlog!

It doesn’t matter that you are using Outlook, Gmail or any other clients, here are 3 hacks, what you can introduce to your daily emailing to save you 1-hour per day:

1. Reminder

This is a function with I can save hours and important deals. By using this, I have so many opportunities to attend conferences for free, even as a speaker. I had new customers, and I could also talk with some busy people, who are usually unreachable. This little action is sending you a notification if your email hasn’t been answered within a certain time you set earlier.

Here is an example: you would like to work on a new project with your old customer, but he is really busy. However he promised, he will come back to you by the end of next week, something came up, and he didn’t. Luckily you have set a reminder for 2 weeks for this email, so your notification arrived. You don’t need to keep it in your head, write down in your diary or making Excel files because this program is doing this job for you. Magic!

2. Send Later

I’m sure you have been in a situation where you received an email from your manager or partner, and you had to work on it. You might even send one of those in the past. One of the greatest advise from a big company’s management I heard was that schedule your emails in working hours. There is a big chance your college or customer will answer it with more motivation if you send it in the morning instead of 1 am. The other story: I learned that one of my partner doing emails on Sunday evenings so I can schedule my sendings to him for that time. Since I follow this, the ratio of answering has increased. It`s nothing to do with his willingness to answer; he is just really busy. This function can delay sendings with a time defined by you. You can learn another awesome trick, which I share in my video. That also saves me tons of time.

3. Shortcuts and Templates

Often times you have to write the same reply: when should we meet, sending intros or weekly report. If you are advanced, you already have templates for those in a Word file or on Google Drive. But the real professionals set up a combination of the keyboard and paste the needed information. Yesware provides a template section within their Gmail plugin.

What are your best hacks? Which one of those above will you start using?
If you are interested in these programs, you can also use Yesware.com or Followup.cc and built their plug-ins in Gmail or Outlook.
There are native solutions I started to use, and this is Spark. How does it work? I show you in my video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOthtiRersw

 

Garyvee and Peter Szanto

I met with Garyvee and asked him about the Law of Category

My friends, I MET GARYVEEE and was on Dailyvee :)!!!!! Watch it!

This is a guest post that first appeared on thenextweb.com. Here are my written thoughts on it. (Summary at the end)

What’s the name of the third person to fly the Atlantic Ocean solo?

Do you know it? I didn’t. The real question is that how hard is to figure out what our strength are. This is what Gary Vaynerchuck adviced me: it doesn’t matter how many things you are good at. What matters is that you figure that out and use your strength.

In other words, finding your differentiators can help you stand out of the crowed. Think about it, if you are doing what everyone else is doing, you are approaching it in a completely wrong way – Casey Neistat . “You realize that you will never be the best-looking person in the room. … A true egalitarian aspect to success, is hard work. Always work harder than the next guy.”

Amelia Earhart. You might have heard this name before. Now, the real question is the context. Is Amelia known as the third person to fly the Atlantic Ocean solo? Of course not, but as the first woman to do so.

The phrase “law of category” comes from the book The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

If you are good at one or two things, all you need to do is finding an unique angle, thus creating your own category.

The good news is, that finding this new category where you will be first in is not at all as difficult as you might think. How, you ask? If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in. When you launch a new product, the first question to ask yourself is not “How is this new product different or better than the competition?” To put it In other words, what category is your product first in?

With my company, SpringTab, we found that SpringTab is the first promotion tool by a digital consulting firm that is easy-to-use thanks to its data gathering to provide converting personalized experience in onsite and retargeting.

Most companies focus on why their brand is better. But people are interested in what’s new. After all, who is interested in what’s better? So find it and then #educate the market.

  1. It doesn’t take much planning, if you aim for average with pleasant success in life. All you have to do is stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something greater, something extraordinary, your options come down to two:
    Become the best in the world at one specific thing
    Find your strength and become pretty good – like top 25% – at two or more things

Take Scott Adams’ case. He was the funny kid in the school, but wouldn’t make it as a standup comedist. His drawing skills are better than most people’s, but is not an artist or a graphic designer. The magic happens in the intersection of these two skills. Plus Scot having a business background helped him connect the dots and play on his strength of being among the few people who can draw well and write jokes.

lawofcategory

Same analogy I can apply to myself and why vlogging came easy for me, is thanks to my background in photography and story telling. I’m not at all the best at capturing something visually, and definitely not the best storyteller. But I believe that being in the top 25% supports me to create outstanding audiovisual narratives by combining the two skills.

Here is another example. You can become a good public speaker (top 25%) and add that talent to any other skill, and bamm you overtake people focusing on only one skill.

Here is the secret hack.It is way easier to reach the top 25% and it requires way less energy.

The man himself, Marc Andreessen said that even the secret formula to becoming a CEO is this. All successful CEOs are like this. Just look at it from an educational standpoint. The unusual is getting usual of having combinations of degrees: engineering + MBA, or law degree + MBA.

“Everything is a remix, but what is your version of the remix?” – Chase Jarvis

Let me inspire you with the help of these stories.

Miller Lite.Heineken was already a big success. So instead of competing with a high-priced imported beer, by being a high-priced domestic beer, they positioned themselves as thefirst domestic light. There was a twist to the story, when Amstel Light became the first imported light beer. There is always a next twist where you can be first at.

IBM and DEC. IBM was first in computers. DEC was first in minicomputers. Instead of selling its products, DEC was education on why the market needs minicomputers.They told propects, they have to bugy a minicomputer, not a DEC product. Needless to say, when the decision was made, DEC was the goto option.

In the early days, Hertz sold rent-a-car service. Coca-Cola sold refreshment.

Tim Ferriss created the phrase “lifestyle design”: “The New Rich (NR) are those who abandon the deferred-life plan [save and retire after 20–40 years] and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility. This is an art and a science we will refer to as Lifestyle Design (LD). . . . $1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows. The question is then, How can one achieve the millionaire lifestyle of complete freedom without first having $1,000,000?” (Excerpt From: Timothy Ferriss. “Tools of Titans.”)

He owned the mindshare, the mental “category,” not the trademark.

Success is you make your own slot.

The great temptation that people have is they want to be someone else, they want to be in someone else’s movie. But, “How do you zig when everyone else is zagging?” A cool example is Chase Jarvis, who was transparent before it was “cool”.


  • Meeting with Gary was just like watching his videos, but 100x. There was nothing new under the sun, but the way he put it and tailored it to me one-on-one, that made a huge difference for me. Keywords:
    Numbers game
    Patience
    Emphaty
    Document the authentic
    Follow your target group on Instagram, find out what they are interested in and create content around it. Jab jab jab hook!

What this means to me that since I made a decision in terms of where my life should lead and be in the next few years, all I need is do the hard work, play the numbers game, so with patience I’ll find the right fits. I should and started to feel emphaty for the ones who don’t stay in my life. They must have their own reason, it is not my job to analyze it. May it be, NEXT. I started to document my journey throughout a weekly vlog, because I wish to show my ups and downs with all the inspiration I found relevant.
I created 3 parts of the experience, below you find the one where I actually met him. If you are hard core and have cca 12 minutes, whatch the three:

Click on this for the playlist!


Thanks for reading so far. Do you have any other cool inspirations like the ones above? I’d like to create a collection so if you have a good story or your own example, please share it in the comments or at peter@szanto.co.

#sharingiscaring

calendly-featured

Calendly Can Help You Save Time and Schedule Meetings Easily

I would like to show you one of my favorite tools. It is called Calendly and it saves me at least one or two hours per week.

This tool is about scheduling meetings. I’m sure you also had trouble with finding a mutually agreeable time with your clients, or co-workers. It’s a hassle. You send emails back and fourth, or maybe use a Gmail extension to add options to your emails. Sometimes you end up calling each other, and you’re still unable to find the right time.

According to Bloomberg, an average appointment takes five e-mails to schedule. A few years ago Doodle surveyed a sample of 1,500 managers and administrative staff members in Germany, France and the United States.

They were asked about their scheduling habits. It turned out that the vast majority of them were still using old school tools, like the tabletop calendar, or telephone calls to coordinate meetings. On average they wasted nearly five hours per week on this task.

 

How to get back valuable time and focus on more important tasks?

 

The constant calls and emails about the appointments are distractive. If you use Calendly, next to saving time, you’ll also be able to eliminate most of these distractions, and stay focused. Let me show you how.

 

https-%2f%2fcalendly-com%2fszanto

 

It’s pretty easy to create a profile, this is mine. Although I’m using the free version it has a unique URL, which is: https://calendly.com/szanto

 

Let’s say one of my partners or clients calls me and wants to have a meeting. I don’t remember anything. Without this app I would have to check my calendar, find an appropriate period and do the things I described above. Now I just send a link and tell my clients to select the time, which is suitable for them.

 

The link, of course, will take them to my Calenly page, where they can find the dates, which are good for me.

https-%2f%2fcalendly-com%2fszanto%2f25min%2f06-28-2016-back1-napok

 

 

If they click on a date, they will also be able to see, when I am available, on the chosen day.

 

https-%2f%2fcalendly-com%2fszanto%2f25min%2f06-28-2016-back1-orak-1

Once they picked the time, all they need to do to schedule a meeting is to enter their name and email address. If you want, you can add any compulsory questions here. For example, I also ask my clients and partners to describe the topic of the meeting briefly, so I can prepare for it.

 

enter-details

After they schedule an event they can save it into Outlook or their Google Calendar. They can also download a file, wich when clicked on, will automatically add it to iCall and other apps.

 

I won’t need to save the event in my Google Calendar, Calendly will do this job for me. Every detail of the meeting is synced with Google’s app, which will notify me about it, just like it does with every other appointment. Calendly will also send a reminder into my inbox while my partners will receive a different one, which allows them to reschedule or cancel the meetings.

 

Event types in Calendly

 

From the questions your clients have to answer to different notification types, you can configure many aspects of your events in Calendly. You could also change their appearance and embed them in your website.

 

 

calendly

If you subscribe for the app you’ll be able to create different event types for the various meetings you have every week, and for example, send different types of invites for your colleagues and clients.

 

It has a dashboard too, which lists all the booked events, but if you connect the app with Google Calendar, like I did, you won’t really need it.
I can only encourage you to start using it, and save valuable time every week.

kanban-method

Make The Change with The Kanban Method

Chaos, inconsistency and workflow problems in your everyday? You would never dream about how much better it can become by applying The Kanban Method. Having full control over your work processes is just priceless.

 

Incremental change in your workflow

Imagine having everything on post-it and as you get closer to finishing them, you move to further stages. It has three basic sections:

 

  1.     To do – Make the full list of things you want to get done.
  2.     Doing – When you start progressing on one of them, move it into this section.
  3.     Done – Put those task here that are completely finalized.  

 

Different color-coded post- its can function as categories or tags by project, or any other differentiator. If necessary, you can always add notes like a certain task for example is “on hold”, or extra information, detail about the process. You can also attach documents or images.

Of course, you are able to develop your own work process based on the Kanban method and find out new stages in between the three sections that I mentioned above.

 

Kanban is a perfect solution is you would like to see a broad picture of ongoing projects. You can see in one glance all the tasks, approaching deadlines and progress of your work.

 

  • Pros: You have a broad picture always in front of you
  • Cons: Always be careful about the details that can be overlooked, if using this method.

team-working-and-kanban

Team working and Kanban

Kanban method is the best technique for team working as well. Your fellows will know everything that is going on with a project. What is more, they can address themselves or can be tagged by someone for a certain task to do.

 

Check out these some apps that function based on the Kanban method. They will help you to see the big picture and facilitate you to always keep an eye on every stage of the work you are progressing on.

 

Trello vs. LeanKit

Stay posted by these applications that are available from your mobile device, as well. While you are out of office, you can check status updates, comments, and make changes anytime. You will have the feeling of control over your job easily with these apps.

 

 

The difference is not too much between these two, they are very similar tools. I have done a little research on them and found out that Trello is supported by all kind of platforms; web based, IPhone, Android and Windows Phone app, LeanKit can’t go with Windows Phone. While Trello typically serves freelancers and SME-s, LeanKit is also for enterprises. Apparently, Trello has less features, but allows integrations with more platforms. According to social media preference, Trello has been more popular, but it is worth to check both of them out, they develop fast according to customer needs. LeanKit even offers a free trial.

kanban-method

Implementation

It can take some time to get accustomed to these applications, especially, if you have a whole team working with you. However, it is simply about that you and your people will need to change your working habits a little. It’s kind of making a documentation of each step you are planning to do, you are doing, and what you have done.

 

It may seem as a sisyphean work in the beginning, but soon everyone will realize, how much you can ease your work. In fact, you can become addicted to the kind of working method. But this will be a good kind of addiction.
Let the Kanban boards define of your whole workflow. Combine this method with the GTD and Pomodoro Technique and take over the reins.

temptation-bundling-utilize-your-guilty-pleasures

Temptation Bundling – Utilize Your Guilty Pleasures

“Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on a doorbell.”

 

As you read so far, you know how many times I referred to myself as a lazy ass. I find it pretty struggling to go to the gym or not delay doing XY important task. So I need to motivate myself. Create games and trick my mind.

 

It is about creating a reward system. So, don’t forget to reward yourself and set up small gifts for yourself. Worth mentioning is the breaks here, since they can be rewards as well. The easiest way to do it is to simply divide your learning time into bearable study sessions- a short break in an hour or so will already an incentive to keep focus. Then grab a small snack or call a friend- forget about the material you studied for a moment.  

 

Reading about one trick, changed all of that. I realized that temptations and struggles can work hand-in-hand pretty well. Combining the two can solve many problems.

 

How does temptation bundling work exactly?

The idea is simple: I can only meet up with a good friend or watch my favorite TV show, if I went to the gym or got the most important task done for the day.

 

The whole idea came from Katy Milkman. Her strategy worked. I tested it: just like with me, not only did she go to the gym more often, she actually looked forward to going to the gym because it meant that she got to do one of her favorite things: read a good book or watch her favorite TV shows.

 

Read the full story here: http://jamesclear.com/temptation-bundling

 

Ever since I have been using this, surprising things have happened, like I go to the gym more often, I don’t procrastinate that much, I get more shit down and I could increase my focus. Solely for SEO purposes, let me give you a few examples.

 

Gym. I hate gyms, since they are monotone. I’m more like a ball player or enjoying team sports. That being said, I know that a 30-60 minutes’ exercise in the gym – on the treadmill or doing some super sets – can increase my body mechanisms, my state of mind — like knowing the fact that I made it to the gym and actually did the whole program. The best part is the reward, like enjoying time in the hot tub with my girlfriend or meeting up with friends afterward, or simply just sitting down with a shake and writing a blog post in a better way, mood and phase. Since I like these things, I make myself go to the gym more often, so I get to do all these. You could say that I can still do these, but! My mood and level of productivity wouldn’t be the same! So that’s the point!

how-does-temptation-bundling-work-exactly

 

Procrastination

If it was up for me, I could spend the whole day watching Friends and playing GTA. I LOVE those activities. But that stupid tiny voice in the back of my head will start telling me that is this really how I want to spend my day? The same thing as with the gym, that moment of short term satisfaction will affect me in the mid-long run and ironically my mood – or level of happiness – will decrease. Now, I don’t want that to happen. So I tell myself, that I can only watch Friends, if first I get XY done, preferably the most important task for that day. Then I’m good. Again, that’s the reward system I’m talking about, this is temptation bundling.

 

Getting shit done

Sorry, getting things done. It’s a simple choice: do I want my pass to just pass me by, or I want to create things. Of course I want to create. Good. Then question number two is what/when/how. So I create a roadmap, a to-do list – and even if I don’t, then I will have tasks in my inbox. If I don’t do this, they ain’t gonna stop. They will keep coming; cluttering my inbox. That I hate even more than getting out of the bed in the morning. So this thing – call it fear, fire in the belly, or negative temptation building (hey, I just invented negative temptation building:)) leads me to get up and get shit done. I use the get over it mantra and start telling myself ‘do it, do it, ‘do it, do it, ‘do it, do it!”. And I will!

 

Focus

I’m a multi-tasker. At least I used to be. One of my mentors told me that I rake. It meant that I was losing my focus since I wanted to do way too many things I failed, multiple times. One trick is to cut tasks into parts with ends. Another one is to say no to distractions and be present in whatever you do. Sounds easy, but it is way harder to execute.

focus

 

Important vs. urgent

I have got one extra tip for you. There is a difference between important and urgent tasks. Urgent can be to book a flight or to get an appointment, while an important thing is that I have to write an article.

 

However, I always had the feeling that there is a small difference between these two, sometime they overlap each other and it feels like I should do all of them at the same time. But here is the trap, where it’s easier to lose control. This line helped me to understand how it is in fact:

“Important tasks are things that contribute to our long-term mission, values, and goals.” Brett McKay

 

Then I only had to understand what tasks are important for me, tasks that contribute to my success. If I made this clear in my mind, I try to delegate certain tasks to someone else, while I can keep focusing on the things that are personally important to my progress. These ones I have to do immediately or schedule some of them for later.  For example, going to the gym never feels urgent, but important in order to perform well in the long term.

 

Consistently accomplishing the right tasks helped me to boost my daily productivity and so did my mood.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but believe me, it is totally worth it when you feel that you are actually on the right track, doing it.

 

All these could work out because I used temptation bundling. It made it easier for me to do.  How about you? Do you find it valuable in your life?

smart-habits-of-work-you-only-need-one

Smart habit of work: You only Need One! Be smart and don’t work more than 4 hours a day

Most people identify entrepreneurship, with 12 hour workdays and high levels of stress. Apparently, there’s another way.  If you ignore difficult tasks, and focus on the ones that you can work on with confidence you will constantly feel like the right person at the right time. The founders of Heroku made millions of dollars operating this way. Some of the tips in this post could help you, follow their footsteps…

 

Do you work more than 4 hours a day? The founders of the cloud based platform, Heroku didn’t and they made a 200 million dollar exit. They must know something about the smart habits of work

I heard this story many times from Steli Efti at conferences and blogs. You can just listen to it in Episode 56 of TheStartUpChat.com.

The Heroku guys told Steli, that   “If something is too hard, we don’t do it.”.

This doesn’t make sense. As an entrepreneur, you crave challenge, and feel competent to deal with the hardest tasks. Then why on earth would true entrepreneurs, who made 8-digit exit before, say something like this?

smart-habits-of-work

 

Here is why.

 

If something feels too hard or can’t be fixed easily, it’s a good idea to ignore it for a while. Just keep focusing on what you are good at! If you are a GTD fan, put these projects into the Someday box. If you are not familiar with this method, just set up a reminder, which will alarm you 6 months later.By that time, two possible scenarios will arise. Either 1) you will have the knowledge or the team to execute. Or… 2) The problem will not be important anymore.

 

Look at difficult things as red flags. They seem hard, because either you are not the right person for the job, or it is not the right time for you to work on it. In these scenarios, be honest with yourself and say, I don’t have  a suitable  approach or tactic right now.

 

Sometimes it’s the best to just push aside the unresolved situations. Admit that it seems to hard – yet. Later down the road when you encounter with it again, it might be either easier.  

It’s possible, that next time you will have a better team, more experience or a deeper knowledge about the topic. It’s also imaginable, that you will realize, that it wasn’t the right challenge and you should never have bothered with it in the first place.

 

This approach is mind blowing. This philosophy simplifies life on so many levels!

You are more inspired and productive, if your projects are doable, and you feel competent at your job. Basically, you will feel that you are the right person at the right time, and you will be able to get so many awesome things done.

Does it seem like that everything you thought about life – like word hard and stuff – was just wrong and it turned upside down?

 

Well, there are many ways to do things, and I’m sure that the Heroku guys didn’t intend to say that this is the only aproach that could work. That being said, it is good to see an example like this. No matter if you are in a rock bottom position or rising high, let’s do the homework and just think about it. I’d love to hear your take on it!  Comment on my Facebook page or just send an email to peter@szanto.co!
My recommendation is to cut the clutter out of your life and focus on what you love.

productivity-habits-of-successful-people-part-2-the-pomodoro-technique

Productivity Habits of Successful People Part 2: The Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique advocates breaking big projects or tasks into smaller, more achievable tasks distributed throughout the course of your day and — notably — separated by frequent breaks. Each task should take no longer than 25 minutes and breaks should be approximately 5 – 30 minutes (depending on how long you need to recharge before the next task). The technique’s name comes from a tomato kitchen timer, used to time 25 minute increments. If you want a more modern solution, there are many timers available online.

 

Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro is about setting short intervals and having a few minute- long breaks. It is repeated throughout the day and helps in simplifying project and being more productive.

Here is an easy 6-step instruction how to use it:

  1. Choose a task to work on
  2. Set your timer (pomodoro) to 25 minutes or whatever works for you
  3. Work on it until the timer rings
  4. Take a 5 minute break
  5. After three pomodoros, take a longer break for like a half an hour
  6. Repeat until necessary

Using it you will become a way better planner who tracks results and efficiency. It goes pretty well with GTD, since you divide projects into small tasks anyways.

Once you formed a habit out of it, you will rarely finish earlier. If that happens – congrats and – it is time to set more difficult tasks or put more into one set. In short breaks you shouldn’t focus on that work. Go a take a short walk, exercise, call a friend, read a nice or funny post.

The whole point is to force yourself into the flow and keep a sharp focus. Never let yourself get interrupted!

 

Pomodoro (tomato) technique is a study method that helps avoiding procrastination using a kitchen timer

Pomodoro (tomato) technique is a study method that helps avoiding procrastination using a kitchen timer

Habit trick:  Create a framework (read Pomodoro and Get Things Done sections)

 

It is a very good technique for learning. Schedule the tasks and set goals. The best way to think about is as about habits in general. The more repetitive method you create, the easier it will get to do something. Combine what you have learned so far and use the Pomodoro technique with GTD. Make it something that you can stick to and form to a habit. It is like what Ernst Hemingway said: write 5 pages every day and you will have a book in 3 months. It is even more important if you are part of a project group or study group. Lastly here, setting up expectations on why you are doing something will keep your passion’s drive.

 

About the 80/20 rule aka Pareto Principle. One thing worth mentioning here is Parkinson’s Law. It’s about putting ourselves in a difficult time frame and magically we are still able to manage a nice job, if not even better than what we would have produce in twice as much time. All we need to do is limit ourselves in terms of tasks per hour let’s say. A good technique to use is Pomodoro. It uses a timer like those ugly kitchen tomatoes to break down work into intervals. You should test what works for you the best but it usually is 25 minutes long, separated by 5 minutes breaks. After 3 pomodoro, you take a half an hour break. If we do it right, the results and lift in efficiency is pretty amazing.

Productivity Habits: Getting Things Done

Productivity Habits of Successful People Part 1: Getting Things Done

Running your own business is not easy at all. There are lots of things to concentrate on, without losing the focus on the main task you are doing. I’m an entrepreneur since I graduated so I had to find the best practices for scheduling and managing my daily routine. But these productivity habits aren’t only useful for entrepreneurs, everybody can save time with some of them. In the first part I want to introduce everybody into my favourite one: The Getting Things Done Method.

Getting Things Done Method

Getting Things Done (aka GTD), is the Grocery List method on steroids. It is simple enough to get started right away, but as you dig deeper, it can help you on so many levels. Tools, which you can install on your phone, may resemble classic Grocery List apps but they allow you to create sub- lists and manage time you spend on each task.

To not waste anyone’s time, let’s see GTD in 2 minutes:

  • Your mind is not meant to remember… tasks. Write down every little task you can think of, so that you can get everything out of your head. This goes to your Inbox.
  • Set aside 30 minutes each week (for me it’s Friday afternoon) when you clear your Inbox and put it to Other
  • Create the following lists name like (you can add other lists later):
    • Inbox: This is where you instantly write down everything. First question is if it is actionable. If there is something that can be done in less then 2 minutes, do it right away. It should be something precise like “Email Peter about XY”.
    • Some day: If it is not actionable, you put it to “Some day”. If it stays there for more than let’s say 30 days, you can either delete it to the trash or leave it there.
    • Next action: If it is actionable with a simple step (and it takes more than 2 minutes), you put it to “Next action” folder. Here you can decide to do it as the list is, or specify a specific date.
    • Waiting for: Works like the “Next action” folder, but this task is out for someone to be competed and you are setting a reminder preferably with a due date.
    • Projects: If it is actionable, but has multiple steps, you create a project out of it and define as many small tasks as possible. This is what we call planning. Remember, you always need to have a “Next action” subtask in every project. This is crucial to get things done!
    • Grocery: Let’s start with groceries. It can be an ongoing project, since you need to do that. In this project, you can list whatever you will need and just move it here from you Inbox.

That’s it. Simple like that.

Pros: GTD helps you get things out of your mind and never forget anything and get it done in the most effective way.

Cons: You must be very persistent and devoted to your work- you can’t skip days because this would cause even bigger mess instead of helping you to put everything in order. Also, those apps that are supposed to help you sorting tasks, are slightly more complex and can be a bit confusing in the beginning.

f190e0bc-9ae3-43d0-b93e-d4a955e6bf9cimage3

How to be a pro in GTD

As time flies, you will create and close many projects and find your own pace. You can add contexts and tags, but that’s not necessary. If you would like to get more into practical application, read this deep guide about GTD, but if you’d like to become a pro, I suggest the holy grail of GTD by the man behind.

After you know everything about the method in theory, let’s see the best apps avaiable for using GTD in practice:

Want to get started now? Take 5 minutes and write everything that is in your head.

It is a very good technique for learning. Schedule the tasks and set goals. The best way to think about is as about habits in general. The more repetitive method you create, the easier it will get to do something. Combine what you have learned so far and use the Pomodoro technique with GTD. Make it something that you can stick to and form to a habit. It is like what Ernst Hemingway said: write 5 pages every day and you will have a book in 3 months. It is even more important if you are part of a project group or study group. Lastly here, setting up expectations on why you are doing something will keep your passion’s drive.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!

 

 

 

productivity-hacks-for-sales-executives-automate-your-sales

Productivity Hacks for Sales Executives – Automate Your Sales

The potential in sales automation is enormous: applying a good sales method for any product or service can provide great results. The main goal should be to comprehensively analyse the potential customers’ behaviour and offer the best option for them. And the best part is that the RPU can be increased independently from the complexity of the decision-making process, because with sales automation you can reach customers who aren’t reachable with the existing resources.

But how can you automate your sales?

The first problem is that although big companies own serious permission treatment services, and can afford expensive CRM software like SAP, Pardo, etc., they have staff for every separate process and Salesforce consultants for the optimization. Smaller businesses don’t have the capacity or resources for these, at all. They must find the best free or cheap software to be able to compete. The question is obvious: how can a small company earn sales automation results similar to those of the big guys?

Even “one man army” businesses should have comprehensive contact following systems and the highest sales automation available. Most missed opportunities could be reached with a well-configured follow-up system. You should follow-up every time! That’s why lots of templates are needed, so you can mass-personalize them and send to multiple recipients.

Being able to automate the signing of documents (hellosign.com) and the sending of contracts (freshbooks.com) and link them with a cloud-based invoicing software could help you achieve serious progress. You can find such services in the Salesforce shop, sure, but this is expensive, and almost every automation process is covered with a free/cheap alternative. So if you are sneaky you can afford the highest quality services for a low price.

email-automation-its-more-effective-than-you-imagine

Email automation? It’s more effective than you think!

You can multiply the usual responses to your emails by inserting a reminder system into the mailing process (rebump.cc, followup.cc). With this software, you can send emails automatically, and if any of the recipients don’t answer, they will get additional pings—configured by you—so your important messages won’t get lost in their mailbox.

The main goal every time should be simplicity and the possibility of integration. You should be able to integrate a comprehensive observation system into your well-functioning mailing process. Because if the customer is already on your pricing page, the system can send him a friendly message with the positive attributes of the product. After getting such a targeted message, the customer will be more likely to buy something from you.

Another good example could be this one: if somebody is a regular reader of your blog, but didn’t see the last post for three days, you can send them a little message about the new article. These opportunities are endless! It’s clear that there is a lot of untapped potential in the field of sales automation, and the early birds will get the worm!

 

entrepreneurship-skills-of-working-smart-the-basic-mindset

Entrepreneurship skills of working smart. The basic mindset

I wrote about a really cool hack of working smart where we explained why 4 hours a day should be enough. To dig further, I would like to address entrepreneurship skills of working smart.

 

There are many amazing books on entrepreneurship. To start off with, you could get the mindset from Mr. Dale Carnegie in Winning friends and influencing people . Or find more out about new wave sales tactics in Aaron Ross’ Predictible Revenue .

 

Entrepreneurs are creators. It can be a product that makes people’s life easier or a venture that employs 50 or 500 people who can make a living out of it. They care and this is why they are in motion. They are the ones who are the most productive when put out of their comfort zone and are faced with challenges day by day. For them, the only imaginably reason for working for someone else would be a greater cause where they feel they are more effective to reach whatever they believe in.

 

They are the last to speak and the first to act. This is an entreprenurship skill.

 

Entrepreneurs don’t work for money. They follow their dreams, hustle, work smart, sacrifice a LOT and then on an amazing they, money will follow. Funny thing is that they don’t care about it. I believe that money is only issue for people who don’t have it. Without generalizing, these people never will have the gut to move out of the comfort zone and will just be sitting and waiting around. Serial entrepreneurs don’t care if they loose it all, because they will learn the lesson and know that have the skills to build whatever they want one more time. They think about money as a reward for something that they excel in – and more importantly they would do it without getting paid anyways.

entrepreneurship-skills-of-working-smart

 

“It took me five years to become an overnight success – and I don’t even feel successful.”

 

The whole idea is to spot an opportunity with great demand, find a test market and figure out if it really works in the fastest possible way. If it does, a growth and establishing phase starts where money will come. But the important point is that they don’t pay for money with their time, but with their thoughts and action. This is why they can make money in their sleep. Being an entrepreneur with a profitable business is like having half-passive income. You got to work for it, but you get your money after the results, not your time.

  • Prioritize. Check my Maker Time Guide: Assess everything that needs to be done. Before you plunge into something headfirst, remember that enthusiasm needs to be tempered with wisdom. Look over every aspect of the job, and allow yourself ample “pondering time” so that you can be sure that every detail is accomplished on time and accurately. Make an outline. Whether it’s in your head or on paper, you should have a checklist in mind and follow it in order. You don’t want to repeat steps, duplicate the efforts of others, make mistakes or forget anything.
  • Learn to say no. Avoid over-scheduling yourself and be realistic about what you can accomplish in a single day. Sometimes you just have to cut yourself off because in most professions, there is almost always something that could be done. In order to be able to dedicate yourself to these crucial tasks, you have to learn when to say “yes”, and when to say no. Even if we have a burning desire to say “yes”, we should also be able to say “no” when the thing we’ve been asked to do contributes nothing to the achievement of our long-term goals.
  • Give two or three choices – never more. To yourself and to your partnes/clients as well. This way everybody will feel like to have an option and they are the ones making the decisoin, but at the same time it is not overwhelming to choose from two or three. Handing a swatch book to a client and saying, “Tell me which colors you are interested in” is deadly. Too many choices will cause horrible delays as the customer peruses ALL possibilities and later tends to second-guess every decision. Instead, say things like, “Do you like this blue or this green better?”
  • Look for shortcuts. This does NOT mean taking the easiest method for the sake of it or being lazy. For example, if you respond to numerous e-mails per day and answer the same questions again and again, save your responses. When those questions come up, you can cut and paste your canned response. You might have to make minor edits, but the bulk of it will already be written.
  • Avoid procrastination. Every time you surf the net or needlessly check e-mail at work, your day becomes longer. Push yourself hard to do work when it’s time to do work and enjoy these activities once you’re done for the day. Another way to beat procrastination and get in to the mood is no matter if you have the mood or not, just do it anyways. “Shut the fuck up, get over yourself and do it anyways”
  • Delegate to the right people at the right times. Make sure your team is well-ordered. If one person is faster, put him or her on the part of your task that will take longest. If one person is more skilled and accurate, put him or her on the part of the task that is most critical. (Pro TIP: • When giving a task always use this framework: NAME, could you do, TASK by DEADLINE, NAME, please? For example, John, could you go today and buy a milk, andwhen you are there, buy 1% milk instead of whole milk please, John.)
  • Periodic breaks. Use Pomodoro . Even at the office, you need to allow time for your mind to regroup and recharge. Push yourself hard for the first 50 minutes of every hour and then reward yourself with a 10 minute break.

 

If I can only address one take away for this post that can help people live a more fulfilling life, it would be this: by forming fun routines and habits, you will not need to work hard. It is about working SMART and enjoying the hell out of the journey.

 

Work hard play hard is pretty misleading. It should rather be work smart.

featured-image

Habit of a lifetime: How to hold people accountable?

The hardest part of controlling an organization or a workflow is overseeing the completion of tasks. Why does it seem so difficult?

In order to control the processes effectively you need to educate yourself in handling operative tasks or find someone, who is fit for this job. The one supervising day-to-day operations needs to see the big picture and have a passion for details at the same time.

Project management programs, like Asana, can help you achieve both objectives. With this software, you can generate smaller and larger projects, and add subtasks to any of them. The system is also able to send email notifications to anyone involved with a task, and allow clients to follow the progress.

Of course, you can also delegate people and set a deadline to every task in Asana, which is extremely useful because it makes everyone involved in the projects accountable. When the job and the responsibilities are obvious, overseeing them will mean less trouble for you.

For the best results, you will need the find the right people for every project, that you created. If you charge people with projects, that are inadequate for them, it will result in delays, or the quality will suffer. For example, if you know that someone in your organization is good at writing, don’t delegate this job to anyone else. If you do so, you will probably have to send the work back for correction and waste a lot of time to achieve the same quality.

As a leader you have to know the strength and weaknesses of your workers, for example, it should be clear how punctual they are. If you can also discover what motivates your colleagues you will be able to get the most out of them.

 

note

 

Some people are inspired by the tasks you appoint them with, but others will need further encouragement. It could be a good idea to allow some of your co-workers to set the deadlines for themselves. Also, if you have to charge someone with an unpleasant task, offer him or her a more engaging job for the next time!

Besides knowledge you should concentrate on occupational calling, and the applicants’ ability to perform in the chosen roles, when assembling a team. Keep in mind that some of your employees will have to be able to work together effectively on a day-to-day basis!

Using the personality assessment test developed by Myers and Briggs might help you obtain valuable information about your co-workers. Knowing more about their personalyty types will help you a lot during project management.

There is a golden rule to hiring people, which you should also remember. “Type A” workers will employ “type A” people, “type B” workers will look for “type C” people, and so on. We advise you to stick with “A”.

time-is-money

Productivity Hacks for Sales Executives: How to Make 48 Hours Out of 24?

Probably, you also dreamt about completing twice as many tasks in a day, then you are generally able to. Although it might sound strange at first, it’s possible. The key to achieving this goal is organization.

Be your own assistant!

Like it or not, a day consist of 24 hours. Unfortunately, we can’t change this limitation, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to use our time better. What do I mean by this?

With very strong self-control we are able to create a kind of schizophrenic state. In this, we could be our bosses and assistants at the same time.

A good way to reach this is to picture two hats, that can summon the different characters. One of them is the hat of the boss, who will give us precise tasks with strict deadlines. The other one is worn by the assistant who executes the daily tasks from the to-do list. If we put on the boss hat in the morning, and then change the hats, we can structure our workdays easily.

assistant-tools

 

Why is order the quintessence of productivity?

Most people have mastered the art of procrastination. They don’t even realize how much time they waste on useless stuff during work. They say to themselves things like: “Ok. One more cigarette, and I’ll start it” or “I’ll just listen to a song and begin working immediately afterwards”. By switching between the two roles, we can avoid the delays, and motivate ourselves to create valuable workdays.

The people who wake up early are often more productive and efficient in work than the ones who sleep till late. What is the reason for this?

If you set the alarm to 5 o’clock and use a few hours to do things that make you happy, for example, read a book, have breakfast with your loved ones, or run in the park, you will begin work differently. These events will make you feel like it was worth waking up early, or well, waking up at all. This can be a very strong drive throughout the day, and help you deal with tasks, which otherwise you might try to procrastinate.

One more productivity hack: punish and compensate

This system can only work provided that you are able to take it seriously. Creating a process of punishments and compensations can help you achieve this. It’s a rather difficult task if you’d like to do it properly because let’s be honest, we are much more likely to compensate than punish ourselves.

There is one thing that could be very useful, though. It is to come up with a prize, that you are eager to receive. If you choose a suitable gift and find the right time for the compensation, this will provide a strong motivation to endure suffering. For example, if you decide to apply to a tender, give yourself the present not when you acquire the work, choose the completion of the project instead.

Ask for help   

Delegation could significantly speed up your progress too. Find someone, with whom you can work with, and ask him to do some of your tasks!

If you don’t know people with the proper abilities for a chosen work, you might consider hiring a freelancer. There are plenty of pages like upwork.com where you can find talented professionals from various fields, including programming, designing or accounting. This list can help you locate the most suitable freelance job site for your project.

ask-for-help

If you’re a tech savvy person, project management applications are made for you. With Asana you can easily create the tasks with your boss hat on, and also, delegate them, and set the deadline if needed.

Many people are searching for ways to make life easier. If you found my advice useful, or you are also looking for ways to make your days more productive, I suggest reading the works of  Napoleon Hill, John Maxwell, Robert Kiyosaki or Timothy Ferriss. The latter, for example,  is a very important book on time and mobility centred around working only four hours a week.

There are many tips and guides available online too, that can help you boost your productivity. This post could aid you in creating to-do lists, or making them useful again. If you’re interested in project management applications, I suggest this article, because it lists most of my favourite programs. Finally if you’re looking for more productivity hacks, don’t go anywhere, you can find many posts about them on my blog, for example here you can read about smart habits, and this lengthy post explains the GTD and the Pomodoro method and also describes an experiment with them.

Organizing our life is one of the most difficult tasks. Its hardship comes from the fact, that we have to punish and compensate ourselves at once. But if we put on the right hat at the right time, the complications will seem less unsolvable. And who knows? In the end, when we’re finished with all of our tricks we might find a white rabbit.

featured-image-1

The Future of Productivity is Harmonization

Few people realize that our daily work related tasks can be described with four simple terms; communication, creation, sharing and organizing. While the nature of these elements hasn’t changed much in recent years, the way we deal with them has transformed completely due to technological advancement.

I’m certain that you need to use one or more software for each of these tasks nowadays. If you want to work effectively you also have to find ways to integrate them. In the following paragraphs, I’m going to describe how technology changed our daily jobs and give you some tips, on how to get the most out of the alteration.

 

Communication

 

The most popular form of communication besides personal meetings is still talking on the phones. While mobiles have become our most important gadgets, in most cases there are better alternatives for discussing work related projects, than talking about them on cell phones.

The fact that most people check their mailboxes at least once a day makes email the perfect tool for sending a large amount of information, or official documents. Despite the ongoing efforts of wireless carriers the popularity of the VOIP applications is also growing, and in most cases they can completely replace phone calls, and provide similar, if not better call quality for personal or work related conversations.

Most young people are using messaging apps nowadays, instead of texting. And although these apps have primarily been used for private conversations until now, many companies started to work with Slack and other collaborative tools too.

Instant messaging platforms have many other uses next to simplifying communication for employees or friends. Facebook and other firms are working on artificial intelligence powered chatbots that could help or replace customer services. While I’d take these predictions with a grain of salt it’s not entirely impossible, that these bots could one day replace company websites. If they will work as planned they could provide an easier way to gather information, through an uncomplicated medium, with which the users are already familiar with.

As you could see from the above examples the tools we use for communication are changing rapidly. Emails replaced letters, WhatsApp replaced  text messages, and we can use Skype instead of phone calls. With that said the transformation of platforms,  didn’t change our need for communication on work related projects, just made things easier.

If you’re considering integrating instant messaging platforms into your workflow, you can find the comparison of their abilities here, and this site informs you about how secure these apps are.

 

man-using-mobile-phone

Creating and sharing

 

The programs we use to create documents, pictures and other types of media haven’t transformed as rapidly as tools we use to communicate. The breakthrough on this field came with the ability to store our files on the net, and share them with our co-workers through cloud-based services. Most of these apps allow users to edit documents collectively and send each other files which are too large for emails. These functions can make teamwork much more productive in most cases.

With one or two exceptions the various services offer free storage space up to 15 GB, which can be expanded with a paid plan. If you haven’t done that already you should try some of these apps. This list could help you pick the ones, which are suitable for you.

 

people-having-meeting

Organizing

 

Using various applications to organize your daily tasks can help you in many ways. I strongly recommend calendar apps, with a reminder function to manage meetings and other events that you have to attend. In Google Calendar, you can create recurring events too, and if you set it up this way, the tasks will automatically turn up in the web application, when needed.

Task manager programs like Wunderlist or Things are also very useful if you would like to collect and prioritize your different works. Asana and other project management applications have similar functions and, in addition to those they are able to make more complex plans transparent.

Of course, the technological solutions I’ve collected for this post won’t always make your life easier. It’s possible, that some of the programs won’t save you as much time as it would take to learn using them properly. Constant reminders and alerts might also distract you from working on important tasks.

There’s no doubt that technology is taking over our lives on many levels. But it’s not something you should fight against. It’s much more beneficial to look for a combination of tools, that can simplify your life and make you more productive.

time-maker

How to Improve Productivity Now by Combining 3 Methods

In an experiment I used the Pomodoro Technique, the Getting Things Done method and the Maker Time theory together to improve productivity. The results were staggering! While writing, I feel more focused and efficient, I learned plenty of new things, and exercised at previously unimaginable times. This post walks you through the process and tell you what happened, when my peers joined the initiative.

 

Being a lazy ass, I constantly find myself looking for hacks to be more efficient. Sounds familiar?

I stumbled upon this treasure, just before the Holidays in 2015:

https://medium.com/@googleforwork/one-googler-s-take-on-managing-your-time-b441537ae037#.t5zvec8ak

 

 

 

This video is based on an email written by Jeremiah Dillon, a manager at Google. He suggested his colleagues to become Makers.

 

There are two paradigms to scheduling — the manager and the maker. While managers work with 30 minutes intervals, the makers are most effective if they can dedicate a half- or a full-day for their tasks.

 

Dillon thought his colleagues could work more effectively on important projects if they created these half or full day blocks. In order to achieve this, he advised the other Googlers to change their schedule, shorten their meetings, and work on the projects intensely on days when their energy levels are high.

 

His ideas became popular at Google quickly, and the email was shared many times on internal networks.  

Ingredients to improve productivity  

 

I couldn’t have met with Dillon’s thoughts at a better time.  Besides being with my loved ones, I always used the holiday season to process hundreds of saved content and set goals.

This time, I decided to kick off the next year with an experiment. I would combine the Maker Time Theory I just discovered with routines, the Pomodoro Technique, and the Getting Things Done method.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management process. It was developed in the late 80s, and its  goal  is to improve your work and study habits. The practitioners of Pomodoro divide their tasks into 25 minutes long intervals and take a short break between them. During work, they try to minimize the external, and internal distractions.  

The Getting Things Done method teaches you to capture all your ideas and record them. This both helps you to focus on the task at hand and decide which one of your ideas are actionable.

My hypothesis was, that combining these techniques would put my productivity on steroids.

So this is how I set up my Calendar for every week. Each week I just have to plan what to do in that given time.


screen-shot-2016-01-05-at-10-18-34-am

 

And this is how it changes once I plan it.

 

screen-shot-2016-01-26-at-9-30-42-am

 

Tools to Improve Productivity

 

First I collected the tools needed to carry out the experiment. I picked the following apps:

 

  •    Google Calendar (for repetitive tasks and collaboration with my team)
  •    Calendly.com (for automated meeting scheduling)
  •    Asana (for task administration and scheduling)
  •    iDoneThis.com (to keep us accountable)
  •    Pomodoro One (to keep track of time)
  •    Gmail with Yesware and Contactually.com
  •    Blinkist, Podcast, Pocket on 2x times the speed

 

Ground Rules of a Productivity Hack

 

So let’s talk about some ground rules I set up to start with:

 

Following routines can make our daily tasks easier. At the same time, monotony can kill creativity, enthusiasm, and mood in general. Therefore, I decided to work in similar ways every day but with different tasks. I created blocks and filled them with the various tasks. I wanted my subconscious to know when to be in what state. To take procrastination out of the equation, I decided to “force” myself to do every task in my calendar.

 

The states my subconscious had to reach at certain times were the following:

 

o    Maker Time

o    Meeting Time

o    Planning Time

o    Creative Procrastination Time

o    Email and Calls Time

o    Me Time

 

My new weeks

 

  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays are for Making. Studies show that these are the most productive days, so I elimanted all the distractions.
  • This is why Monday is for Planning and Internal meetings.
  • This is why I only take in person meetings on Thursdays and Fridays, plus calls on Mondays(I prefer 20-minute calls that can be automatically selected at Calendly.com)
  • Friday is followed by Google’s 20% Personal Project rule and we can do whatever is on our minds, but have to keep the same schedule.
  • Every morning and evening I have routines to follow which consists of exercising, reading, watching videos, chatting with friends.

 

The  main goal of the experience was to get in the flow and get more done while I have a lot of fun.

Want to know how that went?

 

In the following paragraphs, I will walk you through the process and write about my experiences each week. If you’re only interested in the summary and the conclusion, just scroll to the end!

Week 1.

 

The first day of my experiment felt like a rush. It was packed with activities but in a good way. This is funny, since it had been full of tasks for a few years, but not in an organized way. Sometimes this made me feel like my time is floating away

On a meeting with business partners, I’m always prepared and punctual. Until this experiment, I treated my personal tasks differently. I often delayed less interesting tasks or tried to avoid some of them.

But this day was different. For the first time in my life, I felt the same rush and level of professionalism toward myself, as with important external partners. I had my calendar booked with alarms, my Pomodoro One app was ticking. It felt good and was in a productive state all day long.

Additionally, I could measure the difficulty and timing of my tasks way better. Here is an example: I decided to spend 2 Pomodoros (about 50 minutes) on setting up a Hubspot campaign, but it turned out that I needed more time to finish it. So at the end of the second Pomodoro, I used the Get Things Done method and created a Project out of it..

As the rest of the week went by, sticking to the. plan got harder. There were two main reasons for this: 1) I had to adjust to other’s schedule and 2) force myself to stick to my own schedule even when I didn’t want to.

When I had my own Maker time for Tuesday and Wednesday, the system worked really well. I could get things done and move smoothly. Even though sometimes I was slower, then I originally thought I would be, rescheduling things and reminding myself that I don’t have to get everything done in a day, helped a lot. I could keep my level of energy and efficiency in a balance.

Then came Thursday. The day when I had to completely rearrange my timetable. I planned to have business meetings then, but they were delayed until Friday – the day devoted to my personal projects.

I had no other choice than to switch the days. My personal project was to catch up with reading. So I had gone to the gym, then went home, to do that. That is where, I fell  into my bed, and fell asleep.

Why? I guess it happened because I couldn’t really sleep that week, thanks to the excitement.

I gave myself a day off, and it was a good idea. On the rest of the week, I managed to get approximately 40% of the scheduled readings, and I’m OK with that.

Based on the first week, I expected too much of myself and didn’t give enough time to balance myself.  I decided to change this in the upcoming weeks.

 

Week 2

 

Just the fact that I write the blog and keep track of my time, helps me get better. Nice side effect, right?

Let’s take a look at, the second week of my human experiment!

Topics to cover:

  • Eliminating travel time
  • Emails
  • Planning and GTD’s in-basket
  • Too much todos

 

On this week, I significantly shortened travel times. Before that, I used to spend 100 minutes traveling each day,  which is 8 hours in a 5-day workweek. Usually, I went to three different destinations  a day. By setting up meetings close to the gym, I could replace those 3 trips with one, and spend more time on audio books or podcasts. (Startupchat.com and The Tim Ferriss Show is highly recommended!)

By the middle of the week, I realized, that I need more time for emails. Since I used to write them once or twice a day, I thought that 3-4 Pomodoros would be enough. It turned out that it is not, and I can’t answer them in a timely manner if I don’t devote more time for this task. The solution: I decided to spend 80% of one of Week 3’s content time on emails.

At the end of the week, I adjusted my schedule. Originally I planned to empty my GTD in-baskets on Monday mornings, but I moved this block to the end of the week. I decided to do so, since Monday was also a time for planning and adding personal and professional tasks to Asana and my Google Calendar.

Overcharged, but excited

 

In week two, I was sooo excited about this whole new level of productivity, that I added too many tasks for Maker Time. I tried to finish 20-30% more than I what I am capable of doing. I have no short term solution for this, therefore, I rolled them to the following week. In the long run, I will need to master delegation.

Lastly, the same thing happened on my personal project day: todos stacked up and I ended up solving those. So I had to finish them at the weekend. Two meetings that I couldn’t manage on workdays also took place then.

The two extra day came handy, but it could only work as a short-term solution since it is very important to set quality time aside for loved ones. I guess I could do the same on the upcoming week, and it is actually nice, to get some pleasure work done (which was 4 hours and two 1.5 hour individual meetings with team members in this case).

 

Week 3

 

The important action of this week is that I changed the scheduling. I increased the number of Pomodoros devoted to emails and other work related tasks on Thursday. In the previous weekends, I felt overwhelmed by the unresolved tasks waiting for me, and this took away the stress from Mondays.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 9.30.42 AM

Week 3 was also about team collaboration, delegation and the birth of new habits.

I started to feel some neurological effects in my brain and body, that it wanted to do X and Y at a given time. This applies to gym time, writing time, meetings and most importantly Maker projects.   I also became somewhat better at the things I do.When I was writing, I felt more focused and productive – which was the whole point of my new routine.

Let me give you an example. On Wednesdays I don’t go to the gym, so I planned meditation and some 7-minute workout for the morning. I hated those things, but wanted to see how it turns out. On Week 3, I jumped right out of the bed and started exercising, then meditated. Like it was the most normal and obvious thing in the world. After the exercise, I met with a friend and had breakfast. We talked for an hour before I started writing. This break increased my productivity, the time I spent on writing was highly effective.   

Bottom line, having Maker Time every week at the same time is a multiplier of productivity.

Teamwork with Maker Time

I asked others on my team and peers of mine to join my initiative. I thought if we could synchronize our working routine this way, we wouldn’t disturb each other at the meeting, or during Maker Time.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are Makers Time for us. When we work together, we tend to lose track of time, since we literally feel the ecstasy of creation.

To give you an example, on the Tuesday of Week 3, we decided to rebrand our agency with one rule. We would be very simple and use only 3 pomodoros for this task. Although it took more time (approx. 4 pomodoros) at the end we almost finished every task. I was ready, and my coworker, Daniel only had to fine tune the website and the logo (which he did using 3 more pomodoros).

The lesson here for us was the following: if we are working on a creative project, we need to let the flow take over – even if that means delaying some other tasks.

Also, a well-delegated project will have a different time requirement for each member working on it. So it could be useful to discuss the developments after 3 pomodoros, and summarize who did what and what to continue with. After this, we can work on different things, needed to finalize the project.

I plan to have a similar Week 4 to Week 3, just to see if the adjustments I made over the past few weeks, could work in the long run.  It was great to work together with my team this way, and I think everybody felt the same and enjoyed the project. I’m looking forward to the upcoming weeks!

 

Week 4

 

Ok, this week was a total disaster.

All the preparation and three weeks of work fell through because of one thing. That was dependency.

We moved to a new office. Originally, it was supposed to be ready two weeks ago, so I devoted the previous Saturday to moving.

I went to IKEA and other supply shops and bought new chairs, desks, and office supplies. and delivered them to the office, just to discover our rooms were not empty. We have two rooms, and both of them were stuffed with the previous tenant’s furniture. On top of that, the building’s doorman was sitting in one of them.

The landlord apologized and promised that everything would be ready for this week. Of course, he didn’t keep his promise. On Monday the office was still in an unfinished state, to put it politely. Finally, after an unnecessary trip on Tuesday, and some time spent on assembling the furniture, which, by the way, should have been done by the landlord, we could start work in our new office on Wednesday.

The net wasted time on this project was around 4 hours. Which is not a very long time, but as a result, two of my Maker days were totally unproductive. The whole situation was so bothering that I just couldn’t move forward the usual efficiency.

What can one do?

Sometimes things need to fall apart to build a solid base.

I decided to let this week go and switched to survivor mode. I did the mandatory stuff, like team and client meetings, emails, etc.

 

Better than expected…

 

This week I couldn’t sleep well at all. Three nights out of the five, I stayed up until 1-2 AM to get shit done.

Surprisingly it was worth the time, and switching to survivor mode, and working late had several great outcomes:

1) I found an excellent software for our CRM. It is called Contactually.com. I highly recommend it for small businesses. It’s a great tool to keep in touch and keep score at the same time on a very automated basis.

2) Sacrificing my 20% Friday, I managed to sit down with our dev team. We could finally improve our on-boarding system in a meaningful way – both functionally and design wise. It was 4 hours (8 pomodoros) of amazing Make time. I highly recommend you to do the same. Sit down and work alongside your developers!

2.5) I also managed to answer all my emails and complete the weekly task organization so nothing remained for the next week.

This week gave me the confidence that I needed. By the end of the week I was certain, that using this system would keep me in a productive mindset even when I feel down, or inefficient.

 

The 20% challenge: Reading Fridays

 

January’s twenty percent tasks for me were to clean my Facebook Saved items, Pocket Lists and finalize my book.

None of those happened.

The reason is simple: I overcrowded the first four days of the week and had to do some catching up on the last workday. Plus, on one Friday afternoon, I had to attend a conference, on another I had to visit  our development team.  

So much for plans, right?

The lesson learned here: we need a bigger team and better delegation. I will only be able to carry out the twenty percent plan if this happens.

I also figured that I could plan my weekends the same way I intend to do with my Fridays. I catch myself sleeping in, laying in the bed, thanks to the 7000RPM and burn out of the week. But. If I plan some activities or me time on the weekend that is related to the 20%, I can easily manage and maybe get involved my loved ones as well.

 

Conclusion to Improve Productivity Now

 

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” – Bill Gates  

The experiment had a lot of unexpected, and beneficial side effects. I read way more than usually and I was open to new things. This is how I met with Stoicism and great minds like AngelList’s Naval Ravikant.

Of course, I couldn’t achieve everything I planned for this period.

As productive as I wanted to be in January, I had to keep reminding myself that life is a marathon, not a sprint. We shouldn’t get caught up in the moment and overburden ourselves with tasks that need to be solved ASAP.

 

We need to form habits instead, that make us happier and help us fulfill our goals.

 

I will use the results of this experiment, to create new habits. Tasks that need to be completed at the same time and period of the week. I believe this will make me more balanced, and happier.

Main takeaways from the experiment:

  • If you can form one habit out of this make it the exercising. Do it for 10-30 minutes at the same time, every week and this will affect many areas of your life.
  • Work together, preferably at the same place with the same schedule. This way your presence motivates each other
  • Nothing is permanent. Experiment and continuously adjust your routines.
  • Cut meetings, try to stick to emails with bullet points. Use a background task management software or CRM where you bcc your task and never forget anything
  • Keep 20% of your time to work on something totally different and continuously develop yourself.
  • No matter if you are a solopreneur or a careerist at a large corporation, you can convince your partners/bosses about the two points above. Just show them the results in efficiency
  • If you put time pressure (just a bit realistic) on something, you can achieve great results without getting caught in the details
  • Make use of your travel time: schedule calls, listen to audiobooks or saved pocket readings. Just don’t let 60-120 minutes of the day float away.
  • Schedule activities, which are not work related for weekdays too. Meet with a good friend after a productive maker day! Close a workday with a long dinner with people you enjoy spending time with!
  • Don’t take things too seriously.

Will I keep using this method? Hell yeah. This is one of the best and most complex smart habit productivity hacks that happened to me in a long time!

photo-1473213021768-ea962b488457

Kávéházban ülve dolgozni? 1 titok: miért növelik a kreativitást a nyüzsgő helyek.

“Kétféle ember létezik” mém következik: aki csendben tanul és aki nem. Én sosem voltam könyvtárba járós vagy elvonulva magamban tanulós. Imádtam a Közáz aulájának körasztalainál tanulni és közben a nyüzsgő tömeget mozizni, vagy beülni egy Starbucks-szerű kávézóban (anno még nem volt itthon ilyen) és magamba szívni az energiát. Sokkal produktívabbnak éreztem magam. És teszem azt most is munka közben hetente legalább egyszer kétszer.

Én valamiért utazás-, és hosszú értekezletek közben is remekül tudok dolgozni. A hosszú vonat-, repülőutakat vagy régen az egyetemi Szenátus üléseket azért szeretem, mert minden felhalmozódott teendőmet el tudtam intézni. Feltehetőleg mert ki voltam szolgáltatva. Tanulság, érdemes magunk néha rákényszeríteni egy hosszú de kellemes vonatútra, amikor ráfókuszálhatunk elmaradásainkra.

Miért is van így? Tanulmányok szerint a kávéházak közepes zajszintje elősegíti a kreatív gondolkodást. Nem véletlen, hogy a modern irodakialakításban egyre több közösségi tér van, amik nappalikra, kávéházakra hasonlítanak. Az emberek pedig nem hogy nincsnenek rákényszerítve az asztaluknál való munkához, hanem külön motiválva vannak arra, hogy a legmegfelelőbb helyszínen legyenek és kedvük szerint dolgozzanak. Mert így lesznek a legproduktívabbak.

Persze kérdés, hogy mi az optimális zajszint: mennyire legyen csendes/zajos a munkakörnyezet. Ravi Metha által vezetett kutatócsoport 5 kísérletet végzett el arra vonatkozóan, hogy a környezeti zaj hogy hat a kreatív gondolkodásra. Az egyik fő teszt arról szólt, hogy az alanyokat megkérték, hogy brainstormingoljanak valamilyen új termék kapcsán, vagy annak szokatlan, speciális használati módjairól, különféle zajszintek mellett.

Eredmény, hogy az aránylag csendes (50 decibel) környezethez képest a közepes környezeti zajszint (70 decibel) elősegítette a kreatív feladatmegoldást, míg az ennél nagyobb (85 decibel) hátráltatta. A tudósok magyarázata szerint az enyhe háttérzaj elég zavaró volt ahhoz, hogy az embereket sokkal nagyobb ötletességre, kreativitásra ösztönözze. (Ez a táblázat a zajszinteket foglalja össze: http://www.chem.purdue.edu/chemsafety/Training/PPETrain/dblevels.htm).

Legközelebb, ha kreatív munka előtt állsz, menj inkább egy kávézóba, ne a könyvtárba. Ahogy a kutatók fogalmaznak: ?Ahelyett, hogy bezárkózol egy csendes szobába, törj ki a komfortzónádból és keress egy viszonylag zajos helyet, mely képes kiváltani az absztrakt gondolkodást, és előhívni a kreatív ötleteket.

Én örömmel olvastam ezt, mert beigazolta azt a preferációm, amiért többen hülyének néztek évek óta.

Teljes tanulmány: “Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition,”  publikálva: Journal of Consumer Research-ben.

A cikk megjelent a HVG.hu-n: http://hvg.hu/kkv/20140731_Tenyleg_noveli_a_kreativitast_a_nyuzsgo_z