being more productive

i have been asked by some of y’all to write up some tips for being productive. i am not always productive, but i hit these strides, and i want to talk about what happens in these strides.

1) email aikido. i can’t tout this practice enough – the more on top of incoming content you are – email and phone calls and snail mail – all of it, the more you can actually direct your life rather than responding/reacting and just doing disconnected things for others, the more productive you will be. getting a program like thunderbird helps you to download your emails so you can work offline.

2. so…work offline. just turn it off, close your wireless, unhook your whatever-they-call-the-non-wireless-cable-you-have-to-plug-in, etc. there are too many distractions on the internet, so if you actually need to write or read or create, close the portals and focus.

3. if you MUST be online, organize your distractions. i keep two windows open with multiple tabs.

one window has anything that isn’t work – facebook, twitter, blogs, etc.

the other has work – my calendar, my basecamps, my notes and writing, etc. i give myself a few minutes each hour to play in the non-work window. go invisible or do-not-disturb on chat to discourage interruptions.

4. basecamp! this online work management system has totally sharpened my self-organization process. i have a personal one where i manage my own projects – gigs, creative works…and i have basecamp for almost all the major projects i am working on. this takes convincing, it helps to have training, and it takes devotion to make it a normal part of your day to check in and update the workplan…but this means you don’t lose tasks, they aren’t being forgotten in your brain, and you can assign and share tasks, files and processes with others. i will often develop my to-do list for the day from my basecamps and then work offline for a while knocking stuff out.

4 continued… prioritize your to-do lists, both based on deadline and based on deeper work (see point 5). getting a bunch of unimportant things done is not necessarily productive. here’s a great tool for training your brain to prioritize tasks.

5. the deeper work, of course, is having a clear sense of your life’s purpose.

why am i here?

yeah, that meta.

this truly does help though, not to be facetious. if you aren’t clear what it is you are meant to be doing in the world, you don’t have that natural momentum that comes from purpose to apply to your work.

when you know what you are meant to bring to the world, then it becomes easier to push into it, and it becomes easier to say no to things which don’t actually evolve your own work.

6. saying no is a skill! saying no can be a practice of adoration of yourself; saying no to things you don’t want to do; saying no to things which don’t advance your work. saying no to things which make you feel angry, used, abused, exhausted, sick, or otherwise overwhelmed by work…all of these are ways of saying yes to the work you are meant to be doing, and ultimately, to your very existence.

7. work with people who inspire you, who vastly increase the quality of your work and the scale* of your visions. being a part of a team of awesome is such a boon to productivity – other human beings are energetic forces and where there is alignment, there is flow. don’t stay in blocked zones, and don’t make it your job to be fixing others, or even unblocking them – UNLESS it serves your purpose (see point 5).

* when i say scale, i almost always mean depth, not width or masses, but going deeper, and then deeper, and then even deeper into understanding the work necessary to make your visions come to pass. deeper into aligning your vision with others – not just at the surface talking point level, but deeper, gutteral vision alignment. your work will FLOW!

–> gotta go, time to DO things 🙂