5 Days of Productivity Favorites

5 Days of Productivity Favorites

productivity, best productivity books, best productivity blogs, best productivity podcasts, best productivity tools, best productivity hacksI love to write about productivity and miss the Year of Living Productively series and some of the great articles that followed like these:

6 Important Habits for Getting More Done

A Better Daily, Weekly, Monthly To Do List

Get More Done With a 1-Thing To Do List

Motivation for Doing What’s Most Important Today

But for me, this is a year of being truly productive and realizing the dream of writing and publishing my own curriculum. (For you homeschoolers and parents with kids in elementary school, I will share more as soon as I can.) For now, I came up with a compromise. This week I will share 5 posts about my productivity favorites of the year. These are the books, websites, podcasts, tools, and hacks that I loved (that didn’t necessarily come out last year) that I think you might enjoy too.

I am including all five links below:

6 Productivity Books You Should Read This Year

6 Productivity Blogs You Should Read This Year

6 Productivity Podcasts You Should Listen to This Year

6 Productivity Tools You Should Try This Year

6 Productivity Hacks You Should Try This Year

I would love to hear your favorites!

You may enjoy the other 5 Day Hopscotch posts from iHomeschool Network bloggers. Check them out!

5 Days of iHomeschool Network goodness!

 

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Can Daily Reflection Help You Get the Right Things Done?

Can Daily Reflection Help You Get the Right Things Done?

Can Daily Reflection Help You Get the Right Things Done? Check out two different approaches.While a traditional list can remind you of what to do, daily reflection can help you determine if you’re doing the right things. At the end of the day, you may have everything crossed off your list, but you are left with this nagging feeling that you let someone down. Maybe that someone was you.

Or regardless of how much you accomplished, you’re worried about tomorrow. A traditional to-do list can’t help you there.

I don’t want to go mindlessly through my days, checking off tasks. I want to stop and think about what I’m doing and why. I’ve  found both a digital and an analog tool for reflection that I recommend.

Note: If you are a follower of this blog and wonder where I’ve been, read to the end for an update.

A prayer journal that puts worry in its place

Prayer Journal

I was given this little prayer journal as a speaker thank-you gift. You can imagine I have a lot of these kinds of things hanging around. But I was blown away by the power of this simple journal.

I use mine at night and answer the following questions:

  • How did I experience God today?
  • What worries do I need to turn over to God?
  • Thank you God for…

There is a space for a written prayer to God and then a later reflection on that prayer. There are also Scriptures for reflection.

Why I’m Crazy About It

  • Every day I’m directed to think about how God spoke to me. As a Christian, that is how I determine if I am doing the right things. I’m surprised every time that I haven’t thought about it, until reflecting on the question.
  • Turning over my worries to God each evening preserves my sleep and saves me time I can devote to doing the right things.
  • It trains me to pray about everything.

The Five Minute Journal -- make sure you're doing the right things today.

The 5 Minute Journal

I needed another journaling app like I needed another hobby, but I read about it in a Chandler Bolt email and he was really enthusiastic. I had to see what he was so excited about. The iOS app reminded me to journal without me having to set up reminders. Like the Prayer Journal, 5 Minute Journal asks what you’re grateful for, but is proactive in the morning, asking what would make today great. I’m also asked for a daily affirmation (a little positive labeling is good to counteract all the negative).

In the evening, I’m asked for 3 amazing things that happened today and how I could have made today better. It has the capability of adding a photo, but since I already use Project Life to document my year, I don’t use that aspect of the app.

Why I’m Crazy About It

  • I love being reminded to reflect by my phone. When I get the reminder, I’m excited to answer the questions.
  • The questions put me in a good mood. All of them have a positive focus.
  • I like to see if I end up doing what I thought would make today great. You aren’t looking at what you wrote when you answer the question. You will eventually see some patterns.

Don’t have an iOS device? The 5 Minute Journal has been published in book form, too.

What tools do you use for daily reflection?

Update

A productivity pal recently asked me, “What happened to you?” Fair question! It’s been six months since I’ve blogged regularly about productivity. I’ll give you the answer in bullet form (you know, to save time).

  • I’ve been spending most of my writing time creating elementary curriculum. Productivity posts have taken a back seat.
  • I didn’t feel I had the right to blog about productivity until my A Year of Living Productively ebook was done. I’ve since determined that this makes no sense.
  • I got stuck writing the ebook because I thought I had to say something new. Since there is nothing new under the sun, I had a dilemma. My current plan for the book is to organize my blog posts for easy readability with an update on how the various productivity hacks are working for me now. The goal is to have the book ready on Amazon by the end of the year. It will be free!

Looking forward to connecting with you regularly. You can find me on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. You can also subscribe to productivity-only posts on this blog. You’ll be the first to know when the book is ready.

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How You Can Really Get Things Done

How You Can Really Get Things Done

In a year of testing productivity methods, what worked best?

I am still working on an ebook about my experiments in a Year of Living Productively. While you’re waiting on that, I thought you would enjoy Francis Wade’s take on the process.

I will warn you that I am not the productivity queen Francis makes me out to be in his post and in the podcast interview he did with me. But he is a very engaging writer and podcaster! Among the things he wanted to know were what worked and what didn’t in this year-long process. I hope something I share will inspire you to find what works for you.

Francis also wrote a popular guest post here titled, Why CEO’s and College Students Manage Their Time the Same Way, and a productivity novel that you’ll want to read.

 

 

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Can You Really Write a Nonfiction Ebook in 21 Days?

Can You Really Write a Nonfiction Ebook in 21 Days?

Can you really write an ebook in 21 days?This is Week 47-52 of a Year of Living Productively

These last six weeks I tested whether I could write a nonfiction ebook in 21 days. I wanted to summarize my findings in a Year of Living Productively in ebook form and used the ebook by Steve Scott to do so as described in my last post. While I was working, I shared some amazing guest posts with you that I felt added to my investigations. They are listed at the end of this post.

How Writing an Ebook This Way Saved My Sanity

  • Gave me the opportunity to assess the past year. I have learned so much doing these experiments and writing about them. If I hadn’t worked on an ebook, I don’t know that I would have gleaned as much as I did from the process.
  • Enabled me to quickly outline a book. Steve Scott’s approach to outlining a nonfiction ebook is a good one. I really enjoyed using note cards to do it — something I haven’t used in writing for years. My outline was finished right on time.
  • Enabled me to quickly write a first draft. Steve’s admonition to write quickly got me into a Nanowrimo frame of mind and I was able to produce the first draft in a little more than 8 hours.

How Writing an Ebook This Way Made Me Crazy

  • Required too much time. Steve Scott recommends writing for two hours a day to finish the book in 21 days. I thought I would have more than enough time to start the book before I left for vacation the second week of January. Not so much. Then I thought I would have plenty of time to write on vacation. I did have some time, but not nearly the amount I anticipated. I planned to write the book in a two-hour time block each evening when I returned. When that didn’t work, I gave up, rather than using the little-and-often approach that had worked so well for me. I also struggled to find the time for editing the book because…
  • I was confused about my purpose. Steve suggests writing to answer people’s questions, but that felt like I was writing this book to tell people how to be productive. That’s the opposite of my purpose in writing this series! Once I figured that out, I was able to finish the first draft. But I was still confused. I wondered if the book would really be valuable to readers. I wondered if it was worth putting on Amazon, instead of just making it a blog freebie. I wondered if it was worth the sacrifice of time. And I wondered if I could really do the book justice in just 21 days. Now I wonder if I had written a weekly update during the process if I would have gotten more clarity.
  • I had competing priorities. I foolishly over-committed these past weeks and tried to write the ebook while going on vacation, starting a new weekly series on organization for homeschoolers, and more stuff that would just bore you (you may be thinking “too late!”). I had to reread a post I wrote on the high cost of over-commitment and how to avoid it. I realized that I succeeded writing 50,000 words in a month for Nanowrimo when it was my only extra commitment. Throw in a lot of unexpected and emotional events this month and I’m amazed I finished the first draft. That’s as far as I got.

Can I really write a nonfiction ebook in 21 days?

I don’t know. If I had invested the full 42 hours, I could answer that question, but I didn’t. I really wanted to, but if I had been miserable pushing myself to get the book done, I don’t think it would have been as helpful as honestly telling you that I couldn’t do it. At least not this last month.

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using Going Forward

I am going to finish the ebook using Little and Often. I want to finish the book because I think I will get a deeper understanding of how I work best as I refine it. I also want to bring closure to this series for faithful readers. I will still work through the steps that Steve Scott clearly explains, but I am not going to block time and promise it on a deadline. I have succeeded using writing deadlines in the past, but I am experiencing some obligation-based procrastination now. I think it will be interesting to see how long it takes to finish the book using little and often. Of course, I will post to let you know when the book is available!

Following the publication of the book, I will be posting about productivity hacks, books, apps, or ideas that catch my fancy as I’m inspired. Originally, I thought I would do that weekly. But one of the important things I learned from trying to finish this ebook is not to obligate myself to too much. I love the friends I’ve made through this series, but I love my family more. That’s as it should be.

If you’d like to join me going forward, here’s what you do. Write your ebook using a Little-and-Often approach. Keep reading, trying new things, and sharing what you learn about yourself with others. I would love to hear about what’s working for you!

**UPDATE**

I made the very difficult choice NOT to write a productivity ebook, not because I couldn’t, but because I was putting off what I REALLY wanted to do until I wrote the ebook. Instead, I am close to publishing my dream book–a language arts curriculum for elementary students. As an alternative, I’ve created a landing page and updates for all the productivity posts I’ve written. My desire is that this series benefits you the way it has me.

I have written and spoken about what I’ve learned in this series here:

6 Important Habits for Getting More Done

Interview with Francis Wade

Productivity Posts That Followed the Series

Motivation to Do What’s Most Important Today

A Better Daily / Weekly / Monthly To-Do List

Automatic Scheduling for Busy People

Get More Done with a 1-Thing To-Do List

5 Days of Productivity Favorites

 

The posts in A Year of Living Productively:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

Week 34: David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner

Week 35: Steve Kamb’s Do It Now

Week 36: Rising Early

Week 37: Computer Shortcuts

Week 38: Interrupter’s Log

Week 39: Project Management

Week 40: Little and Often

Week 41: Problem Solving Approach

Week 42: Inbox Zero

Week 43: Resistance List

Week 44: Time Tracking

Week 45: No To-Do List

Week 46: Delegating

Why College Students & CEOs Manage Time the Same Way

How to Set Goals That Work

How to Get Things Done Regardless of Your App or System

The Real Cure for Time Management Anxiety

Roles & Goals: Lessons in Productivity from the 7 Habits

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How to Set Goals That Work (with free worksheet)

How to Set Goals That Work (with free worksheet)

goal setting, New Year's resolutions, smart goals worksheet

My friend, Tom Dixon, guest posts today. I think you will come away with new understanding, motivation, and tools for achieving your goals as I did. Please visit his excellent blog, Monday is Good.

I’ve been trying to lose weight for years. Around the first of each new year, I’d set lofty goals around how many pounds I’d drop. I’d track everything I ate and how much I exercised.

However, instead of getting thinner, I’ve ended every year for the last 20 heavier than I started. Those big goals in January were forgotten by March.

That is, up until last year.

I still have more to go, but I ended 2013 a little more than 35 pounds lighter. That’s just the part the scale says. What feels even better is:

  • I’m completely off my asthma medication, and am taking half the dosage of another prescription
  • I actually own articles of clothing that say “medium”
  • I went from a 42″ jean size to a 36″ – I haven’t been in a 36 since high school!
  • I can jog for 30 minutes (up from 30 seconds) and plan to do a 5k in the Spring
  • I have seventy-five times the energy I’ve ever had

So, what was different?

I got some help.

That’s it. I recognized that I didn’t have the necessary skills or knowledge to accomplish my goal. Fortunately for me, I found someone who did. That was the big difference. In the past I’ve always gone at it alone, but this time I started working with a personal trainer.

I’m not sharing this because you care about my weight loss. I’m quite sure you don’t. I’m not trying to get everyone to hire a personal trainer. However, I am asking you to identify that one goal you keep chasing.

What do you keep trying to do, but can’t quite get done?

  • Get out of debt or control your spending
  • Change careers or get a promotion
  • Lose weight
  • Improve relationships with your spouse or children
  • Manage your time better

I coach people to identify the “why” behind their goals. It’s only when you understand the reason behind what you want to achieve that you stand a chance of succeeding. Assuming that piece is in place, the quickest way to accomplish any of these common goals is to find someone succeeding in that area.

For me, that was a 23-year-old punk at the Y. For you, it may be a career coach or marriage counselor. You’re looking for someone who can:

  • Tell you what to do, and when. I didn’t have the time or inclination to learn about strength training. In fact, there was no place I felt any less comfortable than at the gym. When you get help, you skip the learning curve and go right into solution mode.
  • Help you set goals. This is critical to make sure you are both on the same page. I’m working on being able to bench press 135lbs, do a pull-up (yes, just one), and run a 5k in less than 30 minutes. The work I do with my trainer is to support these specific goals.
  • Keep you accountable. I probably would have quit about 12 times already if I didn’t know I had to show up at 8PM on Tuesday night to workout. If I slack off on my diet or don’t do my homework, then I’m going to struggle.
  • Take your money. Seriously – you want the kind of help you pay for. When you pay for something it becomes a priority. Free advice is okay, but generally won’t move you forward. Both sides need some skin in the game.

I’m hoping you have already set some solid goals for 2014. If not, check out my goal setting guide (which includes a worksheet) to get you going.

Who are you going to ask for help in 2014? Do it.

Tom Dixon, CPIM, is a demand planning expert and experienced career coach. He is passionate about building processes and teams to accomplish great things. Tom founded Monday Is Good to leverage his “in the trenches” experience with career transition to help others look forward to Monday. He believes that work should be fulfilling, energizing, and a source of joy in your life.
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Can Delegating Help You Get More Done?

Can Delegating Help You Get More Done?

delegating, productivity, GTD, organizedThis is Week 46 of a Year of Living Productively

This week (and weeks prior) I tested whether delegating tasks to my family could help me get more done. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for more on the concept.

How Delegating Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Allowed me to really rest. I am still stunned that my children did all of the clean-up after our Thanksgiving dinner last month. I was really able to sit and relax after a busy day of cooking. No, that’s never happened before! My son who has his driver’s license ran to the grocery store for me. My second oldest put together my daughter’s new bookcase. My husband did more cooking and errands for me than he has, too. I had the kids doing a lot of Christmas tasks I normally handle myself. It was great timing, because as I mentioned last week, I’ve been a little burned out.
  • Allowed me to let things go. When I saw that the world didn’t come to an end when I delegated, I also realized that there were some things I planned on doing that just didn’t need to be done or at least not now.

How Delegating Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Made me confront my anxiety. In allowing my children to do more, I realized how uptight I get about the silliest little things. I am just sure that the kids are going to knock the glass bowl off the counter when they’re mixing ingredients or will burn themselves on the oven. I’m not sure where this is coming from, but this is a productivity series of posts, not psychoanalysis. 🙂
  • Demonstrated the need to plan ahead. If you save tasks for the last minute, you can’t afford to teach a child how to do them or even have a husband pick up the wrong things from the store. Even though I have taught my kids to do a lot, I realized that this is why I haven’t taught them to do everything I could.

Did Delegating Help Me Get More Done?

Yes.  And I received no complaints. On the contrary, everyone seemed happy to help. I think it’s possible that I am this tornado whizzing by and when I stopped long enough to teach, share responsibilities, and explain what I needed, everyone was relieved. My intention is to continue delegating because it prepares my kids for adulthood, while at the same time giving me some downtime.

**UPDATE**

Delegating is still helping me get more done. I aspire to do more in this area, because I know it’s such a powerful strategy.

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for the Rest of the Year

This month I’ll be testing whether I can write an ebook in 21 days. I will be using the schedule in Steve Scott’s book, How to Write a Nonfiction eBook in 21 Days.

The concept. Many of us dream of writing a book, but we struggle to find the time. I have seen and read a number of these formulaic write-a-book-in-x-days books, but I’ve never actually tested them out. Because I want to summarize my findings over the past year in a Kindle ebook, I thought this would be a perfect test to round out the year.

I have so enjoyed writing this series, but I have more to say than the post format allows. For example, I have had a change of heart about many of the various approaches I’ve tried and also have some ideas about how to bring the best ideas together in a way that works for me. When I am back in February, I hope to have a book on Amazon for you that will share that information. The book will be free in the short-term as a thank you to my readers who have made this such a rewarding year.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Buy and read How to Read a Nonfiction eBook in 21 Days (It’s just $2.99 on Kindle). Do the tasks according to the schedule. I would love to hear if you have a book in February! 

To see how writing a nonfiction book in 21 Days went, click here.

Be sure to check here each week in January for a fantastic guest post. I’m very excited about the writers who have agreed to share on topics I haven’t been able to delve into.

To read the January guest posts, click here:

Why CEOs and College Students Manage Time the Same Way

How to Set Goals That Work

The Real Cure for Time Management Anxiety

How to Get Things Done Regardless of Your App or System

Roles & Goals: Lessons in Productivity from the 7 Habits

Previous Week’s Tests

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

Week 34: David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner

Week 35: Steve Kamb’s Do It Now

Week 36: Rising Early

Week 37: Computer Shortcuts

Week 38: Interrupter’s Log

Week 39: Project Management

Week 40: Little and Often

Week 41: Problem Solving Approach

Week 42: Inbox Zero

Week 43: Resistance List

Week 44: Time Tracking

Week 45: No To-Do List

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