I’ve been reading like a fiend lately (ever since getting a Kindle earlier this year), mostly about business and productivity. I really enjoyed Scott Belsky’s first book Making Ideas Happen, so I snatched up 99u’s second book, Manage Your Day to Day as soon as it launched, and was not disappointed.
It’s a book for people (creatives) that have gotten stuck in the busywork, who feel overwhelmed with their daily to-do lists. It touches upon our information overloaded generation, and how we are all impacted by changes in technology, social media and workflow. We are constantly in a struggle to manage our productivity and avoid distractions.
I personally have shifted a number of my own habits as a result of what I learned in this book.
The biggest take-aways for me were:
Manage your Day to day
Turned off notifications on my iphone
This includes Facebook, Twitter and yes, even email. These small but constant interruptions wreak havoc on your productivity, as they constantly vie for your attention.
Scheduled social media time
This means setting up specific time slots during the day where I “check in” on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.
Do your most creative work at the beginning of the day
Instead of getting the most annoying administrative tasks done during the day, and being mentally exhausted by the afternoon, consider doing your most important work of the day. Better yet, do it even before checking any email.
Check email only once every hour (or less!)
I am still debating with this one… but my productivity has dramatically improved since setting up my Macmail to check email only every hour instead of every 5 minutes. I am considering keeping my Mailbox closed altogether, and opening it at only a few intervals during the day. This allows me to check and process email in batches, as opposed to as they come in, which is highly distracting. There is evidence showing that each time your attention is interrupted, up to 10 minutes or more can be wasted just in process of shifting focus and getting organized. All those interruptions add up during a day!
Minimize your list of daily tasks
Be realistic about what is possible to achieve in a day. If it can’t fit on a post-it note, you’ve got way too much on the go!
Short bursts of scheduled productivity
Schedule your tasks in smaller manageable chunks (25-90mins). If you’re stuck, don’t fight it. Take a walk, take a break, get some exercise, or switch gears.
Schedule time every day for personal projects
If it’s important to you, you’ve got to make time for it. Schedule it in just as you would any other projects, no excuses.
No technology in the bedroom
Resist the urge to be checking in on social media late into the evening. Disconnect, and give yourself time to unwind and relax before falling asleep.
There is evidence showing that people subconsciously hold their breath when looking at screens. This irregular breathing can wreak havoc on our bodies, and contributes to chronic stress and fatigue. Technology is affecting how we operate every day, and the more we can understand about it affects our bodies, our health and our workflow, the better equipped we will be to lead successful, productive lives.
These are just a few of the take-aways I’ve had from reading this book, and I suspect that I will revisit it frequently to remind myself how important some of these habits are. Highly recommend!