Learning From A Productivity Challenge: Week 3

Tomato Pomodoro Timer

Image credit: Luca Mascaro under Creative Commons license.

I am excited to be speaking at the inaugural WordCamp DC this summer. I will be talking about my favorite tools for productivity, as well as tips and tricks for being more productive. As I prepare for this presentation, I am undertaking a 30 day Productivity Challenge. During this time, I am researching different ideas about productivity, and trying different methods to pay attention to, measure and track my behavior and productivity. This is the third in a series of blog posts about this Challenge.

Improvements, but I am not perfect!

Week Three

Productivity Score: 9/10

Overall, I was a bit more productive this week, with the exception of one day (Thursday) where I let myself be taken down a rabbit hole or two.

I checked my email too often that day, and jumped into troubleshooting a client’s email issue (they were not receiving email from their website). I thought I could solve this quickly, but it took about an hour and still wasn’t completely resolved. I should have put this project on a list for the next day- in hindsight, it was not urgent, but email always seems urgent to me! I had a few nights where I knew no one in my family would be home, so didn’t stop working or even take a dinner break when I should have. Once again, I was “on a roll” … but ended up beating myself up for losing control of my time and not being disciplined.

Despite my occasional lack of discipline, I was able to accomplish an amazing amount of website development work this week. I started the week with 3 main goals of making significant progress on 2 websites and preparing for my upcoming WordCampDC presentation. While I did again have trouble stopping at times, I am very pleased with what I got done and how I managed my time. I am especially happy with my progress, as I started the week by taking on a project I had not planned for, but which was worth rearranging my schedule to accommodate it.

I discovered an app I have used for a while, Alfred, has an upgrade which does some amazing things, so spent some time learning about what it can do, and trying to set up systems to help me make the most of the time saving features it offers, as well as make notes to remind myself to use them until it becomes a habit. I highly recommend Alfred 3, and will be replacing Text Expander with this, as it has a few more features and is then one less app on my computer.

My Rescue Time report was slightly better this week (best ever!), and my time on email was about the same (slightly less), accomplishing my goal of spending less than 2 hours per day on email and scheduling.

rescue time report

Actions Implemented/Continued:

  • Planned one-two hour time blocks for each day at the beginning of the week, adjusting daily as needed
  • Paused inbox (most days) and checked email only 3 times per day
  • Studied more books about productivity tactics
  • Meditated every day for 8 minutes
  • Tried using Pomodoro Technique.
  • Better defined specific ‘tasks within a task’ to help prevent the inability to “complete” a task that is too big for one day.

Improvements for Week 4:

  • Try AGAIN to be more disciplined about stopping a task even when not “finished.” WILL I EVER GET BETTER AT THIS?
  • Try AGAIN to use the Pomodoro timer more often – now that I found it included in Toggl, this should be easier
  • Continue meditation practice and attention to mindfulness to increase focus
  • Spend less than 2 hours per day on email and scheduling
  • Continue learning to read music and play the guitar. Schedule time for guitar each week.

Key Lessons:

  • I have a hard time stopping! I love building websites, solving problems and getting things done.
  • Sometimes it is worth rearranging a schedule to accommodate a last minute project that either helps others, or helps advance your business goals.
  • I feel in control and energized when I am organized and have a schedule ahead of me. Some days I am not motivated or inspired and those days are less productive. This week I discovered that rainy days are harder for some reason.
  • Spending time setting up systems to automate tasks is worth the time investment.
  • Pausing my inboxes and ganging up maintenance and email tasks is helpful – but I need to be better about using it.
  • Being off Facebook continues to be helpful (and even easier the third week). I can see adding this back into my life after the Challenge, but perhaps only 1-2 times per week for less than 20 minutes.
  • There are LOTS of techniques for productivity. I need to do what works for me.

I’ll report back next weekend on my progress. Thanks for following me on my journey to become more productive!

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