As we celebrate 6 years of The Productive Woman podcast, here are a few productivity tips and tools from the TPW community and from me!
Happy podiversary! and a few favorite productivity tips and tools
This week we’re celebrating TPW’s 6-year “podiversary” and talking about some favorite productivity tips and tools.
How TPW began
In 2013, I decided I wanted to try podcasting. I took Cliff Ravenscraft’s online “Podcasting A to Z ” course in December 2013, with the intention of launching this podcast on January 1, 2014.
When January came, I had everything ready to go . . . but I stalled. I was terrified of launching, wondering if people would think it was a dumb idea.
After 6 months I still hadn’t launched the podcast and I felt guilty for spending the time and money to prepare. Finally, thanks to the encouragement of some important people in my life, I pushed through my fear and published that first 5-minute introductory episode on July 1st, 2014, which is exactly 6 years ago today (as of the date this episode is published)!
One more thought from the TPW community on what it means to make a life that matters
Last week, for episode 300, I shared some feedback from the community on what it means to make a life that matters. One wonderful answer unfortunately came in after that episode had published, so I want to share it now. This came via email from Elisabeth from Toulouse, France:
“When you asked us to define what matters in our life and how to know, I immediately thought about war (strange mind!). In France, we were quarantined or almost quarantined for about three months, so we had a lot of time to pause and reflect. Many things and actions were not possible to do. So we had to choose what to fight for. In a war time, I know for what I would have fought: my family, my faith, my freedom and and my access to culture (same as my grandpa who was a 2nd world war Red Cross “soldier”). These are the things which really matters to me. In the daily mundane tasks, that means I’ve chosen to leave my job, to be a stay-at-home mother and wife. Having no job, I’ve got less money but more free time and more creativity. I have now an edible garden, I sew and mend a lot, I cook from scratch, have time to find ways to entertain the family for free (or almost): library, podcast, art exhibition, street festivals, I also have time to help at school or at church.”
Favorite productivity tips and tools
A couple of mine
Before sharing productivity tips from our TPW community, I wanted to share a few tips of my own that have really made a difference in my day to day life.
- Making good use of my calendar-when I put an appointment, conference call, or meeting in my calendar, I add any information I might need for that appointment, such as an address, phone number (in case I need to call because I’m running late or need to reschedule), notes about the purpose, or the people involved. I try to label the meeting in a way that reminds me of what it’s about. So for example: “Phone conference with [name] to discuss [deal name] purchase terms” or something like that. I do this because I have lots of deals going with lots of different people and can forget the name of the person I’ll be talking to, or which deal it’s about, or which aspect of the deal. If it’s a call or meeting about a particular document, I’ll attach a copy of that document or any reference material I need for the call. I use a digital calendar, specifically an app called DigiCal, which is very helpful for me.
- I turn off nearly all alerts on my phone, computer, etc.–The only alerts I get are for appointments, such as a conference call or appointment outside the office. I have turned off all other email or social media alerts because I find them distracting. This helps me to stay focused and concentrate on what I am doing.
- Email management-When you get as many emails as I do, managing them well can make a huge difference. I make use of the subject line to identify what the email actually is about. For example, the client, matter, or subject. If I receive an email that doesn’t identify those things, I’ll change it in my reply.
One from my recent reading
Here’s an additional tip I found while researching another subject, which I thought was worth sharing. It is Kavetha Sundaramoorthy’s 10 minute rule and it comes from an article called What is Your Favorite Productivity Tool?
“It’s super simple. Every morning, I set aside just 10 minutes to start an activity. Lets say I want to write a book, I will set a timer for just 10 minutes and focus intensely on writing until it rings. This technique is especially helpful for things you find hard or overwhelming to start. Like getting in shape. Just run in place for 10 minutes every morning until the timer goes off. The two benefits: One, you only have to do it for 10 minutes, so your mind is less likely to make up distractions and excuses. Two, if you do this without a break every day for a few weeks, JUST 10 minutes a day, you have established a new pathway in your brain. Now it’s a habit, something your brain will help you do without thinking or debating (like brushing teeth).”
From The Productive Woman community
From Angie (via email): “My favorite productive tool lately is the Clear Habit Journal from Baron Fig. I absolutely loved the book Atomic Habits [see episode 230, where we discussed this great book] and learned how consistent tiny habits can change your life. The journal has a section entitled “One Line Per Day” that can be used for a number of things. I have been using this section to jot down the one main thing I need to get done that day. You only have one line to write this down so it forces you to focus on the most important. Another section is a dot grid section that can be used as a bullet journal. I use mine to brainstorm and set goals. The third section has a “Habit Tracker” that helps you keep track of your habits and work on new ones. The last section is a “Toolkit” packed with ideas on how to best use this journal. I have been using it throughout my quarantine period of 12 weeks. . . . This journal has helped me organize my life!”
From Georgy (via email): “My tip is keeping a record of each meeting I have with my manager, I use OneNote and I like that you can have checkboxes so you can tick off tasks. I’ve been doing this for a few years now & I find it really helpful, I always have a record of what we’ve discussed & can check off completed tasks as I go.”
From Bolette (via Facebook group): Getting Things Done was the first book I bought when I started my business 12 years ago. And I keep returning to it!”
From Chris (via Facebook group): “My bullet journal and “to do” notepad. Every Saturday morning I brain dump a list of everything I think I want to get done. My to-do notepad is divided into six sections which I label errands, connections, study, home, etc. I go through my brain dump list and each item gets added to my to-do list, a future list, my bullet journal or crossed out as unimportant. I mark essential items on my to-do list and then work through it. What I don’t do over the weekend gets added to my bujo or deleted. It sounds cumbersome when I write it like this but works for me.”
From Betsy (via Facebook group): “Having theme days where I focus on a slice of my job for part of that day – I have Evernote notes and email folders that correspond so everything is ready — also, having a pending email folder so I can circle back on things and nothing falls through the cracks – I review the folder each Friday so I can prompt folks as needed!”
My next tip comes via email from Samantha. (Besides being an active member of the TPW community, Samantha is a weight loss and healthy lifestyle habits coach, so if you’re looking for some help in those areas, check out her website SamanthaNivens.com.) Samantha writes:
“My #1 tip for being productive . . . is to add in a walk a day and more daily movement during your workday overall! My best and most productive time is when I am focused, physically feel awake, clear, not emotional or stressed. I’ll make the time to go for one intentional walk almost every day, usually lasting 15-20 minutes. During the walk, ideas will flow like a river, my heart rate relaxes, everything is put into perspective, my energy increases, stress starts to ease up, and I feel refreshed and ready to work upon returning. There are benefits to getting outside, being in nature has been shown to reduce stress and increase feelings of wellbeing. The sunshine helps regulate our circadian rhythms to sleep better, have more energy during the day, and of course provide us with vitamin D. The walk itself, exercise, helps to regulate hormones, reduce stress, increase creativity, and improve focus.
Here are some ideas to start making a walk a day a habit:
Set aside a specific time you will go for this walk every day (working day at least).
Think of a trigger you can set it up with in your day, for example, you always finish a meeting at 10am, then you go for a walk. Or everyday for lunch you eat for 30 minutes and walk for 15 minutes after. You could also start your day with a walk, after you make coffee, head out the door to walk before anyone else gets up. Usually, like a lot of people, I’ll get an afternoon slump around 2-3pm, which to me means get out for walk or get some movement in to reset! Instead of fighting the slump and doing okay work, getting out for a walk and resetting could mean a few more hours of highly productive work vs. busy work/going through the motions.
Ideally you are getting up every working hour to get in some kind of movement to allow your brain and body to take a break, to refresh and renew. Think for at least 5 minutes of every hour to get up and walk around the house, pick some things up, stretch, put a song on and dance, do a couple of yoga poses or take a walk around the house, or get some kind of light physical activity in. Over the course of the day, this can make a difference in feeling good and making healthier choices overall to keep you feeling focused and productive!”
From Elisabeth from Toulouse, France (via email): “I stay productive with routines, goals, and an agenda! I have a morning, mid-day, and night routine. I have yearly, monthly, and weekly goals. I have my personal paper agenda for my to-do-list, the wall family calendar for family communication, and my electronic agenda for meetings, dates.“
Tips to help with particular types of productivity
- If managing email is something you struggle with, check out this article- 23 Email Management Best Practices To Declutter Your Inbox. We also discussed this topic in past episodes “Tips and Tools for Email Mastery”-TPW185 and “Managing Email”-TPW38.
- If managing paper is a challenge, past guest Lisa Woodruff (episode 122) has written a book called The Paper Solution (pre-order on Amazon)
- If time management is something you are interested in, check out some videos on YouTube, such as this one by past guest Amy Landino (episode 276). We also discussed this topic in several past episodes: Time Management & Balance, with Susan May Warren (episode 181); Time Thieves (episode 101); Making Time Work for You, with Rashelle Isip (episode 110); 11 Time Wasters to Eliminate (episode 286).
- If task/project management is an area you’d like to learn more about – again, you can get some ideas from YouTube videos (search “task management tips” and a bunch will come up) – or check out former guest Laura Vanderkam’s (episode 217) great book, Off the Clock. Some past episodes to listen to include: Task Management 101 (episode 215), Task Management Options (episode 30); and How to Choose the Best Task Manager (episode 65).
What do you think?
Share a productivity tip, tool, or resource that’s been important to you in getting the things done that are important to you. Share your thoughts in the comments section below this post or on The Productive Woman’s Facebook page, or send me an email.
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Announcements and Reminders
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Royse City, Texas