Four Productivity Tips... in Memes
I made these memes using Canva.com, where you can make your own for free. So don’t steal.
For the past two years, and probably longer, I’ve been obsessed with increasing my productivity. I’m a fairly productive person. I work 40 hours a week (flat-out, using both Trello and Toggl to stay on task), work out/walk my dog most weekdays (through the use of Power Hours), spend time with loved ones, watch free CreativeLive classes on lunch breaks and weekends, read a book a day (when I’m in the mood), and write a lot of articles, blog posts, and sometimes whole novels.
But it never feels like enough. I want to accomplish more. So whenever I should be working on the time travel novel I’ve been writing since I was 10, I research productivity and time management tips. It’s my own creative form of procrastination. I’m not sure what to do about that. (It’s my biggest passion right now.) But I can give you the short version of what I’ve learned, so you can get more done without having to read the mountain of stuff I’ve read on these subjects.
Productivity Greatest Hits
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” I say this in my head several times a day, ever since I heard it in a CreativeLive class on productivity by Chris Bailey, though he was quoting David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, the first productivity book I ever read. The reason I say this in my head so often is that I’ve trained myself to think it every time I have an idea I actually want to act on. Thinking this quote, prompts me to add the idea to one of my many Trello boards, so I don’t have to “hold” the idea in my mind. Because we all know that both never works and creates mental clutter, which causes stress.
“You’re never going to feel like it.” Today, I read three blog posts from Mel Robbins and watched her TED Talk. I was delighted to learn about her 5-Second Rule, which I’ve never heard of before. It’s basically this: If you think of something you want to do, you have 5 seconds to take action before your mind talks you out of it. So every time you have an idea of something productive you can do, start doing it before you can count to 5.
Don’t break into steps. Just decide on the next step. According to Dr. Timothy Pychyl, who is, apparently, some kind of procrastination doctor, don’t break what you need to do into smaller steps—just ask yourself what the next step is. Once you do that, you’ll be more likely to take that step, because you won’t feel so overwhelmed. Refreshing! I’ve always wondered why every time I read a productivity article that starts with “First, break the task into smaller steps,” I always thought “You’re basic” and X-ed it out. I thought it was because it was so obvious. Now I know it just doesn’t work. Think about it. Listing the thousands of steps it takes to tackle one large project doesn’t make you feel like getting started. It makes you want to accomplish the fetal position under your desk.
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Where would we be without Mark Twain’s tongue-in-cheek humor making us wonder if he was just trying to see who would miss his quirky metaphor and actually do it? But what does the metaphor mean? It’s Mark Twain. Who the hell knows? But productivity experts, like Brian Tracy, have run with it. To him and many others, it means: Do the thing you really don’t want to do first each morning, because it’s probably the most important thing on your list. Plus, you can get it out of the way and stop thinking about it.
Have a productive day!