And nothing ever seems to get done.
Your task list is huge, I am sure. Especially if you are running your own blog or business.
There are boat loads of productivity tips out there, so it is hard to know where to start!
But luckily for us, there is the Productive Super Dad to save the day!
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Imagine you are trying to start your own blog and business, but you also have a full-time job, and a young son.
For many of you this is may be your reality!
So coping with all of the tasks you need to do each day is tough. Very tough. Almost impossible!
That is why I got Timo Kiander, aka Productive Super Dad on the podcast to find out how he does it.
* Special thanks to Lorraine Reguly who introduced me to Timo, and also recently interviewed him on her blog.
In this podcast with Timo we chatted about a lot of very simple and actionable tips you can use each day to increase your productivity.
Productivity sounds like a difficult thing. But actually it is not, if you know where to start.
So let’s take a look at the tips we cover:
1. Don’t get bogged down in negativity and complaints
This mindset is very time consuming and is the opposite of what you need to get productive and start a business or blog.
Either start solving the problems that are holding you back, or leave them behind.
2. Don’t let the small things overtake the more important ones
You need to decide each day what are the most important tasks you want to accomplish to further your small business.
Keep those in mind at all times (or on a list) and do not let yourself be distracted by smaller, less important tasks.
3. You will never really thrive if you do not challenge yourself
Indirectly related to productivity, is the idea of stretching your comfort zone in order to grow.
If you never do anything that you can’t or won’t normally do, and things that make you uncomfortable, you will forever be stuck where you are.
4. Don’t leave tasks unfinished
Similar to the small vs big tasks idea, is the idea of always completing tasks as soon as possible.
Get things off your list whenever you have control over them. It does not help to do 80% of a task and then leave it for a week
5. Not preparing your tasks
This is absolutely key to getting something done. You need to understand in detail what exactly the task is.
If you do not, you need to do some research first to understand the steps. Perhaps it is actually 8 smaller tasks in one?
So always consider planning a little first, before you start the task or project.
6. Not documenting and making checklists
I have heard this from a few super productive people. Write down in point form the things you do often, that are repeatable and possibly time consuming.
This then saves you from making mistakes each time you do that task, and enables you to consider outsourcing or giving it to your team (if you are so lucky)
7. Do not get distracted – The factors to consider
Distractions can take many forms, so you need to be aware what they are in order to avoid them.
Work in the right place, at the right time, and do the right things first. Sounds simple I know, but attack each one separately, and create the perfect working mindset.
The above is just a summary of the most important and actionable tips I took away from my chat with Timo.
If you want to really learn more, I recommend having a listen to the podcast or read the transcript.
If you prefer to read the transcript, you can
Or read it below…
Yeah, yeah, you know, now that I think of it, you know, I really don’t understand how was able to do it but I guess there’s this, you know, side benefits, when you think of it like, when you have very little time on your hands, so you have to be very decisive or you have to be very strict on those things that your focusing on and there is no way that you can do everything like, like if you’re building your business like they’re are million things that you should be, or you could be doing and of course you have to pick like a couple of things that you’re focusing on and this is basically what I did.
And it started from there, and then of course it was really all about, you know, maximizing those couple of hours that I had, you know, like before going to work or when my son was taking a nap during the weekends, or sometimes you know doing something extra during the night.
So trying to find those times, you know, trying to maximize those valuable moments for online business so….
and of course you need to have that motivation in place, so it doesn’t matter how many hours you have available if you are not motivated to do something, so that’s when you’re not proactively trying to maximize those available hours, so the motivation plays big parts.
And I know that, when you are in a job that you do not like, so it’s a great motivation.
Motivation boosts to actually build something that you are doing and something that you’re passionate about so…So I guess that the motivations really shouldn’t be underestimated in this situation.
Yeah, I mean if you’re trying to force something I think it often doesn’t work right. I have friends who also talk about similar things like “Ah! I hate my job and “Ah! I need to do something different” but they’re not at that point where they’re willing to push themselves when they come home they just sit on the coach and just watch TV.
And that’s fine but then it’s, it kind of leads me to your first point in your blog post here. I wanted to go over the seven unproductive habits and I think this is where it gets really crucial is the complaining issue. It’s like, we’re always complaining about something and this is the first point in your post here and I also had the same problem, you know, 4 or 5 years ago I was in a really busy job and I was constantly unhappy and really, getting really really unhappy and its almost aggressive, because I was complaining all the time and it’s a really really bad place to be in.
Do you want to quickly touch on your first point here which is complaining about, complaining about problems is a big time waster actually.
Yes, yes it is, and I have to admit that I used to be one of those people who complained a lot and especially when I was working full time. It’s very easy to join the crowd. That crowd that keeps complaining light like, some people may not like their, you know, position in the company and that are trying to find all the different faults and it’s very easy to join that company and, you know, starts complaining.
I used to be one of those people. I used to complain a lot, that my work sucks, you know, everything like that but then actually a great wakeup call was a couple of years ago when my wife actually told me that, “yeah, but you have to remember that, that thanks to that company that you’re working for, you’re getting salary and that you’re able to build your online business and, you know, buy all the training and you know, everything like that.”
So that’s really made me think that this complaining is really silly and you know when you think of it, it’s very unproductive activity because it doesn’t change anything.
Like you could keep complaining all the time but if you are not willing to take action actually, you know, do those changes which eventually will help you to fix those issues, so it’s useless to keep complaining so, rather than just, you know, complaining.
So try to figure out if there is actually a way to change things and do something about it.
Of course there are sometimes there are situations when events occur which are outside of our control but even in that case, I don’t think that complaining is a right way to deal with that situation.
So rather than complaining, you know, try to put all your energy into taking action
and try to change things.
So that’s basically that’s the more preferred way of dealing with these kind of situations.
Yeah, sure, and I also had the same thing, you know, at that time I mean I was actually getting towards the end getting really known in the company there as being a really negative person and it was it was horrible. And when I left all of a sudden this huge weight was lifted from my shoulders and I became a completely different person so I think it’s a really great point there to not focus on the negative, not get trapped in it and not feel like you can’t do anything about it, because of course as you said there are situations you can’t control.
Like if someone crashes into you with their car and then you know you’re in hospital or whatever. You couldn’t control that, but if you’re if you’re at work and you’re in a job where there are other jobs in the world available or you could re-train yourself at night and study something. I also did that years ago I studied for a course and I got myself a new job.
I mean there’s many ways to get yourself out of a situation and you’re best focusing on the positive things, and smiling and getting on with it so, I think that was a really cool point because a lot of us get caught up in the things we’re not happy about and feel like we can’t change them but you need to stand back and look at them and say “okay what can I do to change this situation rather than just complain about.”
And it’s a great place to start especially for most of us who are trying to change our lives, we’re trying to change our family’s lives by starting an online business and it’s really it’s hard work and you need to be in a good place in your mind I think, when you get started with this stuff because often we have very little support. We’re alone, we’re at home, maybe our family doesn’t even understand what we’re doing.
I know I have that problem, my girlfriend often says to me ” Have you earned any money with what it is you doing, what are you doing exactly?”
It’s a very difficult place to be, and none of my friends understand what I’m doing.
But yeah, I mean I think you need to be in a very secure place in your own mind knowing that the next year or years is going to be really really difficult then, and yeah, that’s where both of us are right now and the next point you came to in your post which was also something that I’ve really discovered recently and haven’t quite overcome yet but which is, focusing on high-value tasks instead of low-value tasks. Do you want to expand a little bit upon that?
Yeah, well, I think we get….with low value tasks and of course those low value tasks are something which do not say contribute to our goals or our vision in any ways.
let’s say that you should be writing maybe a blog post or … writing a report or book or whatever and you know that, that’s something that you really should be focusing on but then at the same time you have, you know, a lot of these distractions like say Facebook or whatever and…
It’s very easy to check your Facebook status or do something else rather than doing the tedious and the boring stuff, which eventually is going to be something which is going to benefit you the most. Like if you keep writing that book or doing whatever.
So those things have, those long-term effects in your future business and in your life so
it’s very easy to focus on those low-value things.
But I think that’s at the same time it doesn’t have to be just a low-value things rather it’s something that when you keep working on your computer so your mind keeps, you know, generating new ideas and new tasks and a lot of stuff is going on inside your brain and if you keep, you know, if you keep following all those things that pop into your head right at that moment, so you’re going to get distracted and then you find out that eventually you’re doing something else which you really shouldn’t be doing.
So I guess the real solution in this situation is first of all to understand those high-value tasks which are something which bring you the biggest value long term and really try to put a small low value task or tasks like that to a later date and try to actually schedule them.
Basically what I have been doing is, I have this destruction list which is nothing else than just, you know, piece of paper or next to me on my desk and whenever I am having new ideas or distracting thoughts or whatever so I’m just you know writing that stuff down and that’s really a great way to clean my mind and it helps me to focus on the task that I really should be doing.
So it’s very easy to follow those low-value things but eventually you realize that you have gotten off the track and you are not going to finish that big valuable tasks or task that you should be doing at that moments.
So focus on the important first and then do that other stuff which is on your list which you have captured.
Today I was just reading your post here as you were talking in this summary point you have here, which is really good with in getting into a positive habit of getting the important stuff done first.
And this also goes hand in hand with something that I read or listen to another podcast recently which was at the end of the day and I haven’t gotten into this habit of doing this yet but is identify three things that you need to do the next day and to the most important things you should be doing to drive your business further and start with those first and don’t go check your email, don’t go and check your twitter or your Facebook.
Get something important done first and then as you’ve also said here, afterwards reward yourself with an easy task.
And then you start seeing all of a sudden in the morning you’ve done something big and you like ” Yes I actually got that first chapter my eBook written or I got that blog post
draft written or whatever, rather than saying “Oh, I checked my Twitter and I spent two hours on there and actually I’ve gone nowhere”. I mean ok you develop relationships it’s not a bad thing.
You should schedule time for social media but I think limiting yourself to small amounts of time for those kind of things is also important and I also need to develop some of these habits because there are only eight or nine hours in the day and you never get anything done. It’s really really difficult.
Yeah, that is true!
And the next one you’ve got on your list here was not stretching your comfort zone. That’s really an interesting one because I also hear that a lot, which is not doing anything new or not pushing yourself in.
Have you been trying something like that recently ?
Yeah, well basically what I was talking about and this is really just one example of this is, that in order to grow, you need to go outside your comfort zone, like…we are basically, I guess you could say we are living inside this bubble and its very comfortable being inside there, but eventually if you are, you know, getting outside and trying to be outside your bubble or your comfort zone so eventually you realize that this is …It’s not a nice place to be in, but at the same time you know that’s that you are, exposing yourself to new lessons and new ideas and you are actually growing and basically what I have been doing I guess, you know, this was like two weeks ago which I had my first mini seminar where I was talking to entrepreneurs. With a friend of mine we had this mini- seminar. It was like two hours and basically what it made was… I have been blogging like over three years but being a blogger, I guess in some ways it’s very easy to be able … just you know, writing stuff and presenting your thoughts that’s … but when you are actually taking all that knowledge that you have in front of the audience and they are not bloggers and they are just, you know, strangers for the most people are strangers I didn’t know the majority of them and when you start talking about those topics that you have been talking on your blog, you really have to be prepared that you get a lot of different kinds of comments back and you really want to make sure that you actually do this, because eventually when you are taking your knowledge into a second level when you start teaching people live so that’s basically when you are growing and that’s basically when you’re learning more about your craft and your topic because you get exposed to these people and they actually give you feedback and you get some new ideas that you are never being thinking about before so..
So this was definitely a comfort zone stressor for me and I am doing a second seminar in the next couple of weeks but I’m already looking forward to it, because I learned so much from our first seminar and really it’s all about testing knowledge and being brave and getting on the stage and teaching those people because that’s when you’re going to learn and that’s when you’re going to take your knowledge into a second level.
Yeah, and there are so many blog comments we get right, so in the end if you actually want to talk to somebody..
Did you actually find you maybe got some customers out of that? Did you get any contacts through that, that sounds like a good way to drive a business as well .
Well, you know some contacts, some new contacts of course and this seminar thing is still so new so we are just working with the marketing parts and we are trying to get people involved and get more people, more entrepreneurs to join this seminar next time so.. I think that it’s really logical steps to actually take your.. basically online knowledge offline. So you’re actually teaching people offline what you’re normally doing online.
So it’s a really great way of expanding your …and getting those new contacts. Who knows, some of those people might come as your subscribers later on.
Yes sure it’s it doesn’t happen overnight, right? .I mean you meet somebody and they don’t suddenly hand you a check for a thousand dollars.
But I mean getting to know people face to face and actually presenting your expertise, each time you’ll get a lot better as well, right? I’ve been thinking about also doing some online webinars which is similar but different. I mean still it’s kind of not quite the level that you’ve gone, because I struggle a little bit here in Switzerland because of the language. Most people small small businesses here, would expect me to do it in German which I could do I’m fluent enough but I’m not so fluent that I feel like I’m myself and so I’d like to do it in English.
But yeah, we’ll see, I mean I need to do something similar because this podcast was one step putting my voice out there and I’ve been doing some videos.
I think it’s always really good to put yourself out there like you say, try new things and you also reach a new audience, because not everybody reads blog posts. Not everybody likes reading, not everybody’s on the internet all the time.
Some people like listening, some people like watching, some people like meeting
That’s an amazing thing but…
Yeah! Exactly that is so true!
Oh! It’s a good thing, its interested to hear how you go with the next ones because I could try something similar here and maybe with some entrepreneurs I’ve been trying to find some groups in Zurich that do that. There’s quite a lot of entrepreneurship going on cause there’s two big technical universities here in Zurich and I should try something like that. That’s quite interesting. It’s always great to meet new people and…
Alright the next one was leaving tasks unfinished which I also accidentally do or maybe I do it on purpose as well. What’s your strategy for that one?
Well, you know, I think that really my strategy in all its simplicity is just that you know if I happen to know that I have a task and for instance if I start working on this task this day and then I realize that I haven’t been able to finish so I try to make sure that I keep working on it as long as it takes.
Like sometimes it’s very easy to finish the task, let’s say in one hour and then it’s done and you can move forward but then are times when there might be some external circumstances when you are not able to get the task done. I just want to make sure that this unfinished tasks reminds of itself.
So I have this task on my task list and I know that if I haven’t finished it today so I have another chance to work on it tomorrow. And it’s just a matter of really once again like clearing your mind and understanding that if you have unfinished tasks so…the longer you have those kinds of tasks your mind is basically building a way that it keeps reminding you of those tasks which are not finished. And I try to avoid of having those unfinished ones on my list or on my mind because I rather spend my mental energy on something else than thinking of something that’s not complete. As soon as the task is done so I’m very happy about that and just look forward .
I think one of the ways I deal with these kinds of tasks is, really to understand that there are different phases or different parts in it, so you might have this thing when you’re least and you’re thinking that’s “OK , well there’s this one miner task that I have to deal with but when you start working on it you realize that “oh, well, we have actually like seven different minor things that you have to cross of your list first until you can see that now it’s 100 percent done.
So really understanding that sometimes task is actually much bigger than what you think, what it looks like and really then trying to block out some time for focusing on the task only you know without any destruction. So that’s basically the best way to deal with its and really what you have, you know, took some time to focus on that task and you have this perfect spot or place to do that task, so really, respect that blog and really work on that task and try to get it done us much as possible. As much as possible because that’s really the only the only way to get through that, past..
I think that the very great example was last year when something very dramatic happened, you know, like in Finland we have a lot of saunas, and in our apartment we also had a sauna and what happened in the middle of heating the sauna was that the glass door, the safety glass door exploded. There was a big bang and lots of this small glasses, pieces of glass everywhere and what I learned there, trying to get the money from the insurance company and trying to get the new door installed so that we can go to sauna again. There were a lot of different phases and I pretty much learned that you really … time, really put some time to do this tedious tasks. Tasks like calling to insurance companies and calling to a hardware store so that they are able to install a new door and a lot of stuff so..
That really made me realize that without any distractions its very easy to pull through the task and get it out of your list and that’s basically what’s happened.
I’m very grateful about that lesson and we are very lucky that we weren’t in the sauna when the door exploded.
It was a great lesson about this very thing like, completing all your tasks like 100 because anything that isn’t 100 percent done it keeps reminding you so..
So you try to keep those at the top of the list for the next day then so that you can…
If you don’t get it finished today then you finish it tomorrow because otherwise it’s just an ongoing thing which either is on your list if you’re keeping a list. And you are hopefully keeping a list, otherwise, it’s always on the list and you can never cross it off. I mean of course if you’re waiting for the insurance company to give you an approval then there’s nothing you can do. That’s a special issue where maybe you can’t help.
Yeah, and those are really those external circumstances or dependencies that much occur. Of course there’s nothing you can do about it to remind readers of course they don’t think that you can do about it but other than that, you know, I tried to keep the ball rolling and keep the momentum alive so that things move forward.
So that’s really my strategy of dealing with these kinds of things.
Ok so that’s a good addition to the, then, you know, at the end of every day or the beginning of every day depending on how you want to do it.
Think about what you’re main things are, you want to do and again at the end of the day if you haven’t finished them then put them on the list for the next day so that you can get them done otherwise you’ll have soon 15 things you’ve never finished and you’re no where compared to last year.
That’s the next interesting one on your list actually which is a not preparing enough for your execution time. So what you’re saying there is not realizing necessarily how big the task is or not having thought it through and not really knowing like you mentioned before maybe it’s actually five tasks in one.
You really need to understand what it is you going to do in and approximately how long it’s going to take before you start doing it.
Yeah, I mean of course that’s really one part of the task like really understanding that sometimes a very simple task is actually much bigger than what it looks like so really knowing what’s ahead of you so that you are not getting depressed when realizing that this task is actually much bigger than what I thought it was going to be but, really the preparing is also about doing some steps before taking actions for instance like when I’m writing blog posts. So I make sure that I outline the posts like the night before.
So when I actually start writing those posts the next day, so I get started much faster and in most of the cases I get to finish those posts very quickly, because I have a plan which I’m following and this is all about preparing likes making sure that’s all the working equipments are ready like you have necessary research material on the disc.
That your computer is ready and its very important to take this smaller preparation tasks and try to actually do them so it’s much faster to get started with the actual task whenever you start doing it.
Basically that’s what it’s all about. It really helped me a lot and especially when I was working full-time I really didn’t have that much time on my hands so doing these smaller things really help me a lot when I was doing writing or whatever I was doing.
It’s a small thing but it helps a lot.
And, you can also do that stuff on the side right? I found I listen to a lot of podcasts on the go, but sometimes when I am on a train ride somewhere, even if it is just fifteen, twenty minutes and you know, “Okay, tomorrow I am going to write a blog post” and you could even plan it out and adjust it in your phone, on a notepad or whatever and you could know approximately what you are going to do before you get home. You can use these little pieces of time.
I’m not sure if it is you that was talking about that somewhere. I think I was listening to one of your podcasts recently, about taking advantage of small pieces of time you have, where…I do that even when I am boiling water for a cup of tea. It can take minutes and I am just standing there staring at the wall so I try and do something else useful, while I have that ridiculous time while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil. This is really wasted time I think we have where we can do stuff.
Actually the next one on your list that I really like is something I have been hearing a lot from a podcaster I listen a lot to- I don’t know if you know of James Schramko, he is a crazy podcaster in Australia, but I think he is on his fifth podcast at the moment, but he is really big, and he just started a new one with a buddy of his – about case studies, which is really interesting actually, it just started last week.
He always talks about this. He is really super productive, I find he is really crazy productive and he talks about SOPs or Standard Operating Procedures and you have mentioned that here too. And, after started doing that about a month ago, for my blog post, for my podcast, so that you don’t forget and even if I had to promote my blog post because I go to certain sites to promote them and go to certain sites to tweet or buffer or whatever and every time you do it, you generally do it the same. It’s pretty much…it’s a checklist, right? And if you forget it one time, “Aw…I forgot to share it on that site”, it’s actually quite silly because you could just write it down, right ?.. and that’s what you are going over at this point here- point number six I think it is.
Yea, that’s basically what you already said that we have a lot of tasks and things that we are doing- that are occurring, meaning that we tend to do the same kind of things over and over and over again and it’s silly to actually reinvent the wheel every time, meaning that, you start to figure out…let’s say that you are installing a new WordPress website, and you have all of these different things that you have to do. And, once again, you find yourself in this situation where you have to install a new website and then you have to start thinking about all those different steps that you need to do in order to have that website ready.
Of course, in that particular situation there are like different moving parts, so it’s not one hundred percent thing but it’s not the same every time of course, but majority of those steps are the same every time. So why not take in a little bit of extra time and actually documenting all those different steps and then creating a checklist out of those steps, so that it is so much easier the next time when you are doing a similar type of thing that you know that, “Okay, so this thing is already done, it’s checked and this is done, and this is done and then you are just checking things off and you know that once you have gone through your list, you have a fully operational website online.
So, it really helps a lot when you are doing this repeating task over and over again. And, of course, it’s very easy to skip the documentation or the checklist part, like you may be thinking that, “Oh, well, I remember this”, but next time you are doing this stuff…so you realize that you are most likely not going to remember all of those different things that you should be doing and taking out some extra time…a little bit of extra time and actually documenting those different parts, helps a lot the next time. Yes, you are spending a little bit of time to doing this tedious documentation part but it really helps you whenever you are doing the tasks, so, it’s really something that I try to make certain I have checklists and the documentation available so that I am not doing the same mistakes over and over again and waste my time on those things that I really shouldn’t be doing.
Now I think that’s a really good one and I’m still working that into my habits but it’s…yea, I mean, basically a blog post, a creation, a promotion, I also found podcast production…These aren’t things that everyone has to do but, let say, you can always find something that you do over and over again. One point that actually… James makes in his podcast which is one of the great advantages of this, especially if you are building a business, is that you can take this task and then you can generally outsource it.
Yea, this is actually what I was going to say next so it’s a really great way, I mean, once you have these documents and checklists available. So, it’s very easy to hand this document over to someone who is actually doing that work for you in the future. So, you know that when all those different criteria are met, so this task is really going to be done in a way that you want to get it done, so, it’s a really great way.
There is also another aspect of checklists which actually relates to perfection and there has been lot of talk about being perfect and trying to reach to perfection in different kinds of tasks. I think that checklists are also a great way to actually avoid being perfect- meaning that when you have these different criteria that you want to meet…and once you realize that all the items are checked off your list, then you know your task is perfect and then you can move on. And that’s really, in most of the cases you avoid of tweaking that one particular task definitely and keep doing it and doing it and you never get it done, so we try to have this small checklist of all those different criteria that have to be met, and once those things are met, so then you can move forward and forget that task and do something else.
It’s a good way for perfectionists to avoid…
That’s one way to deal with it, yea.
Of course you can always do perfectionist stuff on a blog post by reediting it twenty times. I also have a problem sometimes with press and publish. There is this limitations of course. You have to have to be very careful, but if you have listed up the minimum criteria, hopefully it’s the best criteria, but the minimum criteria for doing any one task, then you know that it’s definitely good enough to go out there and meet your standards. I mean, of course some things need to be checked.
I have been thinking about this a lot myself recently, yea for the same reasons, which is, eventually, I am going to come to a point where I won’t have time to be blogging as much as I am and podcasting as much as I am, and I will have more actual work to do and then, how do you go about solving that when you have to break at the subtasks of writing the blog posts, let’s say publishing it, adding the picture, promoting it, all that stuff is not something that needs me there generally. Adding a tweet, yes I need to craft the headline, but I don’t need to actually type it in and press the button, so yea, you can definitely find ways.
Let’s not even talk about blogging. Let’s say you are running a company and it’s the same thing, everyone thinks they need to do everything and by making these checklists, you can find out where you are redundant and actually you can give that to somebody else and hire somebody so that you have time to be you and sell your business, which is actually what drives your business- right- it’s your personality. It’s not you pressing the tweet button- that isn’t what drives your business- it’s actually you.
That’s why I really like that idea of checklist. I think that has been really a good one- task lists and checklists and then the last one, which is a little bit similar to what we were talking about before- which is getting distracted too easily- that’s a big one. I think we all suffer from that with the internet these days.
Yea, yea…that is so true. Yea, I think that there are a lot of distractions that haunt us actually and it’s obvious that there is this electronic distraction, like you have emails, and instant messaging and web pages and all that stuffs- that’s of course one. Then, you could be working from home and your family is constantly interrupting you, and you are not able to get the work done. And, then of course you could be having too many projects on your list, you are not able to focus on you stuffs so your mind keeps wondering and it could be like that you are not working in a right location when you are doing your work.
So, there are a lot of different distractions that we have to deal with and this is really my way of dealing with them. Like, for instance, with email, I try to make sure that I check my emails only couple times per day, so that I am able to then process all the emails at once and that’s basically the way I deal with it, because otherwise I would be spending too much time on the email and doing things that are not really on my task list for the day. So, I try to check my email like two or three times per day and that’s really what I try to do on a daily basis.
And, then, if we talk about family distraction or the home environment… What is very important to understand is that you can actually train your family member…you can actually train them so that they really know what you are doing. In my situation, I’m very fortunate because my wife understands what I am doing and why I am spending so much time on the computer. Our son doesn’t really understand. He is still so young but eventually when he grows up. So that’s also something that I am going to talk with him…why I’m doing so much work on the computer- because I am building my business…and, really, really making your family members understand that you are doing something for the family. You are building a business and eventually it will help you to provide a great lifestyle and generate income to your family.
It’s really about setting the expectations right , so that they know that you really shouldn’t be disturbed when you are working.
Do you allocate certain times of day? I know you have your wife and a young child at home and obviously that is difficult especially when they are very young and as you say he doesn’t understand when you say “No, I do not have time to play with you right now.” So, do you then say “okay”, to your wife, “This time until this time I am on the computer and then I will spend time with you”, and then later in the day “from this time until…” Is that your kind of strategy there?
Yea, That’s exactly my strategy, so I have these fixed times when I am doing work and my wife knows when I am working and that’s really a great way of letting her know that when I am doing work I am not available for her. Of course, if there is a family emergency, that of course is a different story then, but that is basically how I do it.
We also have a family calendar…for instance; we are having this podcast recording right now so I basically wrote on the calendar that I have a podcast meeting that my wife then try to make sure that she and our son are not making too much noise, because you will eventually hear that on this recording. So that’s really one way to make sure that everybody understands what’s going on.
Having a family calendar and marking down those important events or whatever you are doing and that’s really a great way to let them know what’s going on.
And, you also have a specific location. I guess you have a little office or something?
Yea, I am working upstairs. We have two floors. I am working upstairs and it’s of course great because I can close the door and have my own privacy and do stuffs without any distractions. That of course is a really great thing.
So, we already talked about the location, so sometimes…and this really depends on the task. Sometimes you want to have complete silence and you really want to focus on your task at hand without any distractions, but then again, there are situations when you can actually work, but for instance, when I was working so I did a lot of business traveling between my hometown and the capital area.
It takes approximately three and a half hours to get there by train, so I got to tell you that those times were really the most productive ones that I had, because it really didn’t matter if there were a lot of people on the train talking and doing whatever, but I was really, super, super focused and I was able to write so much and it was really great. It was really unbelievable, but I think that this is something which is called a “cocktail party effect”, meaning that you are focusing…Like If you are at a cocktail party and there are a lot of people there, and then someone comes to you and start talking with you…so you are not focusing on everyone at the party but just at one particular person who is talking to you.
So, I think that this very same effect happens and is happening when you are working in that kind of location, like in a crowded train or you could be working in a coffee shop on certain tasks.. You can work and do a lot of good work when you are surrounded by distractions so it really depends on your task.
And then, of course, there are a couple of other things, like you could be having too many projects that’s really something, that I think that a lot of entrepreneurs are facing right now, and have always faced. There are a lot of stuffs that you could be doing, but then, at the other hand, it’s very stressful to actually get started with every possible idea that comes into your mind, because then you are just doing too much and you really can’t focus on everything at once. You just have to pick those most important projects that you want to focus on and really figure out what’s their long term effect, what particular projects are really the most beneficial for you and for your business and really try to be very picky about the projects and really try to focus on just particular one and then move on and then start working on another. That’s of course one type of fixed distraction that you could face.
And, of course, if your mind is wondering when you are doing work…so, we talked about the distraction list that I was having. It’s really a great way to clear your mind and put down those ideas that pop into your head while you are doing work. And, of course, you could be taking like “powernaps” which I usually do like this for twenty minutes naps when you are basically able to recharge your batteries very, very, quickly and…When you are tired, you are not able to focus very well, you tend to make a lot of mistakes, so napping is a great way to actually restart your day if you want to put it like that.
And, there are of course other ways like meditating and things like that. I have been meditating for a couple of months but I’m still yet to find out those benefits. It’s really a long term strategy, and you really have to spend enough time meditating until you can see those effects, at least that’s what I have noticed myself.
So, there are different types of distractions and of course, different ways to deal with them.
Yes, it is interesting when I read this one and I saw “distractions”, I thought, “Ah, that’s simple, it’s just distractions”, but actually when you talk about it like this it’s actually far more complex. So I’ll just quickly summarize in case anyone has gotten lost along the way.
Basically, we are talking about finding the right place where you know you can do the task you need to do, whether you need concentration or not. You need to find out what works for you. You need to inform the people around you, if that’s your family, if you are at home, and for many of us that’s an issue, that the task you are about to do requires uninterrupted noise, for example a podcast, or if you are concentrating on a blog post then you probably do need concentration. When I am sharing blog posts and stuff, sometimes I am laying on the couch watching TV doing that. I can do that from my Iphone. So then, I can work while I am kind of half paying attention to some silly TV show which means nothing to me , but my girlfriend is probably watching some German model show, or something and I’m like, “Yea, that’s really interesting honey”, and then I am tweeting something.
But, you got to choose your location and choose your time, and also setting up block time so that you are getting things done. And, the other good one I like that you were talking about, which is something… I noticed that when you are not replying to my emails I figured that you were doing this and it’s something Pat Flynn talked about in his podcast this week, which was…he is really crazy. He was checking his emails like one hundred and fifty times per day or something. He has gotten it down to thirty I think he said, and he is trying to get it down to three, which is where I think you are and I am similar.
I check them way too much and it is actually a complete waste of time and it brings me to something else which I also thought was really cool, that I heard from somebody, and it was probably again on one of James Franco’s podcast which was about blocking tasks and I am doing this now with videos…I am recording some videos, but instead of processing them all at the same time, I found that that is also really useful and that’s a similar strategy to your email strategy, which is, if you do similar tasks, in a block period of time, you are far more efficient. So, I think, that’s a really cool one as well.
And, if I can just quickly scoot back and summarize everything that we have done… so checklists are really good- good for you and good for getting tasks done perfectly each time and not necessarily perfect, but perfect enough and also, preparing for outsourcing them or giving them to somebody else. Being prepared, trying something new that’s not necessarily a productivity thing, but a good idea in any case. I think stretching yourself, and also, yea, any time you get better at something, the things you were doing before often become easier.
I use to find that with high school and university, the year before when you looked back and it looked really simple…and at the time it was really, really difficult. It’s like, “Oh, now I’ve actually reached a new level”, that’s quite amazing.
And, back to number one, which is always have your task list and keep doing the most important tasks and I think when you were saying project distractions was sort of a meta- version of that, which is concentrating on the right projects- the ones that bring you forward, and then concentrating on the right tasks that brings you forward and not just getting distracted and writing down ideas that come into your mind so that you don’t keep thinking about them and also not getting focused on complaining about things, especially if you are stuck in a situation that you can’t change for the moment, and if you can change it, try and change it, rather than be bolt down and worrying about what’s going on.
Yea, cool, I think that there are a lot of good ideas there for people to improve themselves, and even if you just pick one of those- task list or checklist- I think that they are the easy ones to do, or blocking time for tasks…I think those are three really great productivity ideas you can start tomorrow. Just take one of those and implement them everyone. And, I think you’ll get something else that you could be doing instead when you save all that time.
So, is there anything else you want to quickly talk about Tim before we go? Are there any projects that you are working on or eBooks that people can sign up for on your website?
Well, I think that I mentioned that I am actually building a Finnish Time Management blog which I am about to start in June, but I am guessing that not too many people are Finnish, so it’s not really something that interest you that much, but yea, I really encourage you to download a free copy of my book…like of course, you can go to Amazon and buy the print or the Kindle version of it, but the online business productivity book that I wrote last year, I am actually giving it away free, either by going to my blog, or going to www.onlinebusinessproductivity.com. So, you are going to download it for free, as a PDF, so that’s something that you should definitely do.
I am thinking of getting into writing kindle books later this year, perhaps already starting in June if things go well, so who knows? I might be writing more books, but definitely something for the kindle. Let’s see how things turn out.
Okay. So that’s on productivesuperdad.com and I will put all those links you mentioned in the show notes, if people want to support you on kindle, I think that would be awesome. I am sure it’s not expensive, and also having a print book is also great sometimes just to put some book marks in and keep some ideas for later. I find when I download these PDF’s…that’s why it is great to have a book, is that you don’t always look at it, where as a book, you can keep it on the side of your desk and yea, I like having print books sometimes, but old school.
…And social media? What’s the best place to connect with you?
Twitter is really something that I am the most active on, so, my twitter Id is, “productivesd”. That’s for Productive Super Dad of course, so that’s the way to reach me.
Okay cool, we will put that in the show notes as well. That will be in www.madlemmings.com/episode12 . I will put that at the end anyway, I’ll do a quick speak over at the end, but anyway…Thanks very much for your time. I am sure you need to be getting more productive and doing something else and…
Yea, thanks for having me. It has been a great, great chatting with you and it has been really fun.
No worries and maybe we will have you back again in the future when you have a new book to talk about.
Yea, and actually who knows, when I am starting my, or re-launching podcast, so I might invite you to be a guess at some point.
It’s always great to be talking to a fellow entrepreneur online.
Thanks Tim and have a great day.
Yea, thanks. Bye-bye.
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Ashley is obsessed with SEO and WordPress. He is also the founder of Mad Lemmings. When he is not busy helping clients get higher on Google he can be found doing crazy sports in the Swiss Alps (or eating too much chocolate - a habit he is trying to break).