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How to beat Father Time and get truly productive

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Believe it or not, there are only two months left in 2020. There is no reason why, even in this madness of a year, you cannot make a strong finish and move one step closer to achieving your goals. It’s not easy to defeat the sneaky monster of procrastination, especially when you are trapped with in in-doors, but we are here to help you out. Let’s dive straight into action and how we can stay motivated while we make the most of our precious time:

Get your tomatoes in a row: Pomodoro Technique boils down to working for 25 min distraction-free intervals broken by 3 min breaks and longer 15 min breaks every 4 work intervals. It is widely spread as a productivity hack and its secret lies in the combination of intense work intervals with frequent breaks that increases your concentration capability. To implement it you can use a kitchen timer (after all that’s how it got its name), or one of the countless apps that are out there. Most apps have a fremium business model and offer integration on different platforms. Some of our favorites:

  • Focus To-Do: Pomodoro timer and tasks list (Mac, Windows, iOS, Android)
  • Pomotodo: Pomodoro timer and GTD list – Get Things Done list (Web, Windows, macOS, Chrome, iOS, Android)
  • Marinara Timer: great free web timer for teams that want to share their timers
  • Engross (Android) this app also helps you identify what times of the day you tend to be more focused

Track time spent: Some days time seems to just fly by! Have you ever found yourself at the end of the day finding hard to pin down where you spent your time? Do you have a hard time finding time to pursue the goals you’ve set for yourself? If things like that happen often you should take note! Time adds up to days, days add up to years, years add up to life! Ensure you are consciously spending your time in alignment with your dreams and aspirations, by tracking down where you spend your time and evaluating if you need to make certain changes. For instance, if your goal for this year is to write a book and after tracking time for a month you realize that you spent one hour per week writing and one hour per day on Facebook maybe it’s time to delete the Facebook app on your phone and allocate that extra time in making progress with your book. Time tracking can also help you identify time vampires within your business, aka minor tasks and processes that suck out time that could be spent on priority tasks for your business. Having identified these time vampires with your team you can decide how you can automate or outsource some of them to free up crucial time and resources. If you are already using the pomodoro technique mentioned above you can label your tomatoes within the app or keep track in a notebook. Some great time tracking apps you could give a try are:

  • Toggl (Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows, web, and browser extension)
  • Harvest (Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, web, browser extension, many integrations, great for teams)
  • Everhour (web, browser extension, integrations, employee availability, budget planning and billing)
  • Boosted Productivity (Android, organized by projects and tasks, calendar view)

Timeboxing: Timeboxing is allocating a maximum time unit for a certain task. For instance, you may allocate 30 mins daily for working on your inbox. Past that time you no longer check emails, you no longer reply to emails, any more inbox related tasks must wait until the next related time box. Timeboxing helps you allocate your time according to your priorities and protects you from sinking in the quicksand of the “zero inbox” mindset and the stress that comes along with it. Timeboxing is also a great technique to use if you are a perfectionist. As the startup mantra goes: “Done is better than perfect”

Turn off notifications and limit social media usage: If you find it hard to ignore notifications, try turning them off or put some of them at least in silent mode so you can focus on the task at hand. It’s no coincidence that many entrepreneurs find working during a flight super productive, airplane mode can be a saviour! If you find it hard to discipline yourself you can also use apps and browser extensions to block or limit the use of certain websites and apps during a period of work:

  • StayFocusd (blocker, Chrome extension)
  • Freedom (blocker, Apps for Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and Chrome extension)
  • Limit (limits use, Chrome extension)
  • Cold Turkey (Windows, Mac)
  • AppBlock (Android)
  • Flipd (Android, iOS)
  • Space (Android, iOS, Chrome extension)

Schedule time for yourself to reflect: Quite often any activity related to ourselves tends to take a back seat as we prioritise our work tasks or commitments to loved ones. However, you are the most important person in your life and your longer lasting relationship, so your wants, your needs and your private time should be a priority in your life. To make sure you won’t postpone time with yourself, treat that commitment as you would any other, block it out in your calendar. You can use that time for self care, to take a breather and most definitely as an opportunity to regularly evaluate your progress towards your goals and reflect on your long term goals and direction.

The two-minute rule: This rule is pretty straightforward: if the task at hand takes under two minutes to complete, don’t put it on your to do-list, just do it. You will be amazed how such a simple rule will lift off a big burden off your to-do list!

Move! That’s right! Making sure you take breaks to move is not only necessary for you health, it is also a great way to recharge rapidly and renew your focus.

Stop Worrying: It seems like a no-brainer that worrying is a massive time waster with no benefit at all. Despite that, stop worrying is one of the biggest challenges humans face in their life. There are many methods and techniques to tame your worrying mind, like meditating, blocking out “worry time”, etc. You need to find what suits you best. We’d recommend reading or listening to a fantastic and timeless book on the subject: “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie. The book introduces some of the most effective techniques, like the one Tim Ferriss refers to in his popular TED talk: “Why you should define your fears instead of your goals”.

Procrastinate in a positive way: We all feel uninspired, lazy or simply too tired to work once in a while. Procrastination is simply part of the process of being productive, not to mention it can also lead to some great creative brain dumping. You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if you give in the impulse to just watch the ceiling once in a while, but you’d also do yourself a favor if you procrastinate in a positive way. Instead of turning into a couch potato, take a nap, create some art or mediate. Instead of stalking people you don’t know on social media, watch a documentary or read a book. Down time is valuable time!

Delete. Erase. Unfollow. Say no. That’s right. It may be easy to download an app to eliminate or limit digital distraction, but there is no such app for human interactions (yet). Mastering the art of saying no is challenging, but it can also be empowering, liberating and build up your confidence. Here’s Oprah advice on how to say no as she shared it on the podcast Dear Sugars.

Give yourself a pep-talk: The entrepreneurial journey has huge ups and downs and it’s challenging to remember being kind to yourself and stay self-motivated. Do what works best for you: create a vision board, use an affirmation app, listen to some motivational talks or podcasts, get a coach (human or digital), get served daily inspiring quotes on your phone (Android, iOS).

Let us know if you have any favourite productivity tips to share on our Instagram and Twitter.