You may remember Julie Sheranosher as one of the co-hosts on a previous episode of The Productive Woman when I took part in an international conversation about “Productivity Your Way.” This time, Julie and I talk one-on-one about her strategies for managing time and energy to create a productive life.
Planning for productivity
- Although she wakes up at different hours, Julie’s routine is consistent.
- One thing she says she must do is put on makeup on get dressed as a way of signaling her work day has started.
- The second most important step of her morning is planning. She maps out her day in her planner, outlines and categorizes her tasks.
- After planning, she’ll get to work until the late afternoon, but always leaves one hour for client engagement and getting her inbox down to zero.
- Julie says one thing that can keep her from being productive is not being able to make the distinction between work time and play time.
- As way to signify to herself the day is over, she takes time to wrap up loose ends up at the end of the day.
- Because she and her significant other both work at home, she is constantly sharing space. At the end of the day, though, she closes the door and tries not to take the laptop out of the workroom.
When serious injury forced Julie to learn how to be more productive
Julie, who lives in Israel next to Lake Galilee, served as a Captain in the Israeli Defense Forces. Trained in computer science, she became a team leader who worked on two top secret teams. Her typical work day lasted 18 hours.
When she herniated a disc in her back, though, she was told to reduce her work hours to 4 per day. She did reduce her hours, but to 9, instead of the prescribed 4. She noticed things began to fall through the cracks. When lives are at stake, that was a big deal.
After herniating two more discs, the doctors told her unless she immediately cut her work day to 4 hours, she would be in a wheelchair by the time she reached her 30th birthday. Transferring to a post that required fewer work hours wasn’t an option, so she explored the idea of terminating her contract with the Israeli military. That, she learned, wouldn't solve the problem, because by the time her request had worked its way through the approval process, her contract would have expired anyway.
She had to find a way to do her job productively, and she did. Her studying and implementing productivity best practices paid off in multiple ways. By the end of her service, she had been promoted three times. Her team won every award offered by the military. She began doing workshops on project management for other officers. Before she was released, her productive service was so valuable the military offered her a new contract that would obligate her to no more than an hour a day in the office.
From those experiences, Time Hackers, her business, was born. She writes, podcasts, and coaches about productivity.
Challenges to overcome
Julie lists her two biggest challenges as separating work from life and being able to move on from an unfinished projects.
As someone who works from home, it’s more difficult to simply turn off her brain when the workday ends. She also doesn’t have the transition phase of leaving the office.
If she gets into a project or task and her alarm signals it's time to stop and move on, it’s difficult for her to let it go, even though another 5 or 10 minutes will not make a difference. But she's learned that if she pushes through, trying to get that task 100% complete, it throws off the rest of the day's plan.
Julia was also diagnosed at a young age with Fibromyalgia, which causes painful inflammation in joints and muscles. Julie says it used to interfere with her life; from one day to the next she wouldn’t know if she'd be able to get out of bed. But through thoughtful planning and adhering to her plan each day, she has found she doesn’t add additional stress to her life.
She's learned to be wise about the use of “extra” time. In the past, if she completed her tasks for the day and found herself with an extra hour, she would try to get ahead because she worried that the next day would be a “bad” one physically and she wouldn’t be able to get much done. She soon realized, though, that those unexpected extra hours are often better used for rest, because she would end up feeling sick the next day as a result of overworking.
Julie's productivity tips and tools
- Map out everything and assign themes to days, as productivity strategist Mike Vardy suggests
- Every three months, Julie reviews what she has on her plate, adjusts her plans and objectives, and themes her days accordingly.
- She makes sure she has a time period set aside in the day for important daily tasks.
- Julie says she would always prefer writing a blog post over writing an email, or working for a client over creating a Facebook post. But these tasks need to get done, and they won’t get done unless there is a specific time set aside for them.
- Julie keeps a pen and paper with her at all times.
- She also uses her phone for reminders, but she finds a notebook to be her preference.
- Julie’s notebook: Chic Sparrow notebook, which contains customizable inserts featuring a monthly view, future planning, bullet journal, private journal, and everything Julie needs to keep tasks organized.
- On days when everything seems to get away from Julie, she has come to realize powering through just makes matters worse. She finds it’s best to just give up and make peace with it.
- Non-work related activities, such as taking a hot shower, ranting to friends and family, making hot tea, or watching “Friends” make her feel better and cozy, and she won’t enter her workspace during that time.
- Sometimes, just those few hours of getting her mind off her problems gives her a second wind for productivity, but even if it doesn’t happen, she doesn’t let herself feel guilty for it — there is no point.
- Finally, Julie reminds herself to never hesitate.
- Sometimes she personally preaches against making rash decisions, but sometimes she finds she just has to take action.
- No matter the outcome, it’s a learning experience.
What’s on the horizon for Julie?
Julie plans to do more public speaking on productivity in Israel. She’s also hoping to publish a book in the coming year.
She is also planning to launch a service for people who have great ideas, but don’t have the time or willpower to make them happen. Her service will make those ideas come to life. And she’ll continue working with amazing and interesting people to make that happen.
Other tools mentioned
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, book by David Allen, creator of Getting Things Done (“GTD”) methodology.
- Nozbe (an affiliate link that will get you 10% off the regular price if you decide to sign up after the 30-day free trial)
- Check out this great free resource from Julie: her best resource for organizing all your tasks
Julie Sheranosher helps people to achieve their highest, most desirable goals through hacking their time and resources. She is the host of the Time Hackers podcast, the author behind ImJulie.com, and the coach of those who are no longer willing to live mediocre lives. Let's create the lives you were meant to live – together!
Connect with Julie
- On her website (be sure to pick up Julie's free planning outline while you're there)!
- On Twitter
- Check out Julie’s podcast, Time Hackers
- Email her at email@example.com
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