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When it comes to obstacles to getting things done, what comes to mind?
Other people (co-workers or family members!)?
Where you work and who you work for (management)?
What’s going on in the world (weather, news, gossip)?
But are you getting in your own way?
It’s so easy to blame other people and things, but could you be part of the problem? In most – if not all – cases, the answer is yes.
How to get out of your own way
Acknowledge and accept your shortcomings. You can’t know or do everything.
Learn to harness the power of:
Know your limits.
– Be cognizant of frustration, fatigue, anger, or however else you want to label this.
– During the day. Especially when you are frustrated.
– Take a weekend off.
– Get away with your family.
– Remember to breathe.
DON’T FORGET: your success does not define who you are. If you think it does, think again.
I’m constantly doing research to find out what your challenges are when it comes to being productive via social media connections and in real world.
I always ask: what is your biggest challenge with getting things done?
Replies I’ve received include:
- Not enough time in the day (listen to episode 7, How to Become a Calendar Ninja)
- Interruptions at work (listen to episode 4, How to Deal With Distractions at Work)
- Staying on target
- Anxiety over incompletion
- Me! (Which is one of those obstacles we tend to overlook)
Starting doesn’t mean you’ve never been productive and now you’ve decided it’s a good time to start. Perhaps you were doing just fine but then, for whatever reason, you stopped. Or at least slowed down. And now you want to get serious again.
First things first: stop! Seriously. Stop just for a few moments and take a breath. If you feel stuck…if you feel overwhelmed…if you feel okay…take a breath.
It doesn’t matter where you are on your journey. Maybe you need to take the first step. Or the 12th. Or the 50th.
The point is to START.
Yes, starting can be scary. Especially if you either haven’t started yet or have been floating along the water with the tide for some time.
What does that first or next step look like for you?
You become more productive step by step by step. Basic math: 1 comes before 2 which comes before 3 and so on.
The first step is ALWAYS deciding. What decision are you making?
To-do lists or reminders can be a very effective tool to help you be more productive. But do you know how to use them effectively?
App versus print (notebook)
Pros for app
- You take your smart phone with you everywhere.
- It will fix your spelling when you enter tasks (this is a big thing for me).
- You can also speak to enter tasks.
- Ability to set notifications. Not all reminders require notifications (such as shopping lists).
- Syncing among all your devices.
- Shareable with others.
Cons for app
I had to think hard for this: you can lose your phone or it could be damaged. However, your data will still be saved in the cloud.
Pros for print
No power needed. If the electrical system fails, I guess you will be the one laughing at the rest of us. Of course, you probably won’t need a to-do list at this point!
Cons for print
- Paper can get damaged and there are no cloud backups available.
- You need something to write with.
- You have to bring it and something to write with everywhere you go. And everywhere means EVERYwhere. Much easier to do with a smart phone because that fits in your pocket or purse.
BIG TAKEAWAY: USE WHAT WORKS FOR YOU!
Don’t have one “catch-all” list
Create multiple lists
- Shopping (one for each store you frequent) so when you go to store A, you just pull up that list.
Apps to consider (that I’ve actually used):
At the time I am recording this episode at the end of August 2017, I have 93 apps on my iPhone 7 Plus.
In episode 2, How to Choose a Productivity App, I gave you tips on finding useful productivity apps. Here’s a quick review:
- Use what you already have. Every device comes with calendar, reminder/to-do and notes apps.
- Before you head off to your App Store looking for an app, see if what you already have will work for you.
- Then ask friends and colleagues what they use.
- Next, read reviews – both 5-star and 1-star reviews.
- Try them out if they’re free.
It amazes me how many people are so resistant to paying for an app. They don’t have any problems paying for a new car, food at a restaurant and to buy their favorite team’s jerseys. But apps? Nah! Why do people think apps should be free?
Could it be because most apps are free? Think Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and WhatsApp to name a few. However, these apps are backed by very wealthy companies.
I believe independent developers are allowed to make money for their efforts. In fact, I have several apps that I have paid for.
BENEFITS OF PAYING FOR AN APP
- They tend to be better designed (usually, anyways).
- They are updated more frequently.
- You get access to the developers! (This is huge)
Truth #1: everyone gets the same 24 hours to spend each day.
Truth #2: how you spend your 24 hours is up to you.
Truth #3: if you don’t tell your time where to go, you WILL wonder where it went. Which brings me to…
Strategy #1: tell your time where to go, by scheduling. Use a single calendar for EVERY thing. Although I recommend you use an app, use what works for you. Schedule your tomorrow the night before. Schedule your week on Sunday night or before you leave work the previous Friday.
Strategy #2: use time blocking. Block out time on purpose on your calendar.
Strategy #3: guard your time jealously. Learn to harness the power of no. Learn how to deal with “got 5 minutes” which I talked about in episode 7, How to Become a Calendar Ninja.
Strategy #4: be flexible. Always be on the lookout for new ways of doing things.
Strategy #5: expect the unexpected. Your best laid plans will fail. Have a Plan B or a Plan C before you need it.