How to Double Your Personal Productivity in Just 30 Days – 1 – Preparing Your Attack

How often have you said to yourself, “If only I could get twice as much done as I do now!” The good news is, you can… as long as you have the right method and the motivation to change. In this 3-part series, I’m going to teach you a step-by-step method that will allow you to double your personal productivity in just 30 days. Actually, you could do it in a week, but I prefer to allow for the fact that most people aren’t very consistent at applying new information!

1. Scheduling the Time:

As I emphasized in Part-1, you want to schedule your High Value Tasks (HVTs) for times when your mental and physical energies are at their peak, usually first thing in the morning, although that varies from person to person.

Your next decision is how much time you want to set aside for a given task. In general it’s pretty hard to stay focused for more than one hour of solid working time, so dividing your working time into one hour chunks is a smart way to go. Then, even if the task you’re working on takes two hours to complete, you need to schedule at least a 10-15 minute “stretching break” in between your two one-hour chunks to ensure you’re at your best when you start the second round.

The next vexing question is when to STOP working. Do you quit when you say you’re going to quit, no matter where you’re at, or do you plow ahead until, come hell or high water, you’ve completed your entire tasks?

This is where many people get into trouble. The danger of plowing ahead is that you can end up just working and working longer and longer, until your whole day disintegrates into an undifferentiated mass of low-productivity work. And you DO NOT want that. On the other hand, completing a task has such a huge psychological payoff that you won’t want to stop if you’re close to the finish line. So how do you resolve this conflict? Just apply these guidelines:

1. When you’re scheduling a task, first determine how you’ll know when you’ve finished it! Since you may well be working on a sub-task – one component of a larger task – admit that to yourself and make sure you specify what determines completing the sub-task rather than the larger task.

2. Then determine how long the task will likely take. Then add at least 25% as a safety net – most of us consistently underestimate the time we need.

3. If the task can be completed within a one hour time chunk, then you work at it until it’s completed.

4. If the task is a longer task or a more “creative” one where it’s difficult to say how long it will take, then you stop working after your allotted time expires, no matter what.

2. Preparing Your Workspace:

Make sure your work area is clean and neat: a messy environment will compromise your productivity. Be sure to lay out any documents you’ll need in advance and make sure you have any electronic documents or web pages you’ll need open and ready before you begin. Otherwise, you may spend the first 10 minutes of your “working time” just digging up these items and becoming more and more frustrated.

Next, turn your phone’s ringer off and send all incoming calls to voice mail. If you’re in an office and have an assistant, make sure he or she knows you don’t want to be disturbed. If you’re working from home, negotiate with your family so they know to leave you alone as much as possible when you’re really working.

Also, close your email, your Twitter, your instant messaging and any other means of electronic communications you have. If you’re really serious about doubling your personal productivity, you MUST be willing to make your self 100% “available” to your work for defined periods of time, and that means making yourself 100% unavailable to the demands and interruptions of other people while you’re doing a blitz on your HVTs.

3. Before You Start:

Now that you’ve prepared your physical workspace, it’s time to spend a few minutes on your mental workspace. Going into a task fully motivated will significantly improve your productivity, a lesson every athlete knows all too well.

Find whatever inspires you in your work. It could be success stories in your industry, a book about personal effectiveness, time management or productivity, or simply the vision of what you are working towards. Then spend a few minutes reading or thinking about this until you feel “in the zone”. But don’t stop there…

Close your eyes and visualize yourself working on your task. Make sure you FEEL how easily you’ll complete it and the feeling of personal satisfaction that comes from that. Once you can feel all that, then you’re truly ready to begin.

And once you begin, have a timer or stop watch nearby so you can play “beat the clock” – a phenomenal method for keeping your relentlessly focused on the task at hand.

All these preparations – which most people simply skip over – are absolutely critical to doubling your productivity. Without them, no matter how well you’ve prioritized, your execution will be second rate and the time it will take you to complete a given task can easily increase by 3-400%. So resist the temptation to dive into your work without doing these preparatory steps first. At first these steps may seem tedious but once they’ve become a habit for you, you’ll understand how essential they really are.

Join us next time for the third and final installment of this 3-part series on how to double your personal productivity in just 30 days, when I’ll share with you the strategic secrets of flawless execution.

– Dr. Symeon Rodger

Do’s and Don’t in Product Designing

In the beginning of the project it was good because the design was clear to all. However, the new design was changed twice which confuses the design team and made them weary of continuing the project. The marketing team pre-printed some brochures though they are worried of the outcome. The sales team found out that they lost commissions, they passed the blame to the design team. When the people in management knew this they gnashed their teeth and in anger rained down memorandums in the company for the reason that their budget is running over.

Sounds familiar right? You might think that functionality is the main purpose of a product but the design of the product also plays a vital role. Although the process in design does not always run well and there are major things that needs to be fixed. The things below are the Deadly Sins of Product Design which you must avoid in order to keep your design beautiful and in line with its purpose:

Tunnel-Vision: Keeping up with a need while creating another one

A good concept in design certainly solves a problem and meets a need. It seems so easy to make a design but the important thing is you have to make one which will not create another problem. An example could be a pair of hedge clippers. Putting a safety lock into the cutters will solve any potential problem. However the user of the scissors should avoid the lock to slip into its original position which locks the scissors so he needs to hold it in a certain way which might not be too comfortable for the user. Be watchful on the design since it greatly affects the purpose of the product.

Glitter: Nice design but costly and impossible to make

Any person that loves designing products wants to have that brainstorming environment where spontaneity and art abound. Making new concepts of design is fun and not a boring one. You can have fun in design making but you need to stick with your goal and that is to make a good design. Generally, product companies go to design firms for the design of their products, however these design firms do not have technical expertise. In the end of it you will find that the beautiful designs that you have made are impossible to produce or they are very costly to make. Thus, it is important to know your budget and resources and use them wisely.

Imperceptiveness: The failure to produce a design that meets the user need.

The user should be comfortable of the design of the product. See ergonomics as well as human factors and study on how your product will be used by the users. Learn to know the requirements of the user. Ask the users to know what are their thoughts of the product. You need to study how will the user go with the product and note the efficiency of the product with each use. The method is good specially when you are planning to redesign a product or make a competitive product in the market. Good designs are those that have good aesthetics which users admire but actually they do not know about its efficiency. If the product will be more on design then it will result in the frustration of the user and the product will be short lived. Make your designs simple so that you can make the functionality of your product at its fullest.

Safety: A mixture of ideas for users safety

You will find many kinds of great ideas on the market but if you want to outshine those ideas you have to be unique. Stun the consumers with your great stuff that you made for them. Prior to making a new design for your product, analyze first the competition in the market. Make your research and know the likes and dislikes of the users who use that particular product and find ways on how you can make the product better. Add some features from other industries and create some ideas to make your product more appealing. See what are the trends in the industry right now and know how you can incorporate your ideas to come up with the next-big-thing. Show the consumers on how well your product is over the competition in the market.

Transience: Designing for today and for the future

If you get the current condition then its fine to make a design for the present. But come to think of the products that changed the world since they were not only made for the present but also for the future such as cell phones, coffee makers, computers, etc. If you want to make a good design then you need have to see the future. Do not be contented with your present good, look for ways on how you can improve your user-product interaction. Think 5 years from now and figure out what would it be. What could be the changes in the user requirements during that time? Where else can be your product be used? Can your product be used for a new purpose? Is there new technology available for your new design?

Egomania: Designing only for the sake of the design

The problem with search for ways to make our design good is that we want to make it look cool and fix those points but really not solving the problem. You need to meet the need first before going to the design. You will have the design as you continue to develop your product. You might find great designs as the one that equates to the success of the product but true success of the product means the product meets or exceeds the user requirements.

Distraction: Fixing the wrong problem

Designing a material needs time to come up with a unique art. However, you need to have control from your fluidity. Usually as the design of the product evolves, there are things that are discovered and things are fixed. This is the most useful part in the process of creation-but you have to use this well. You need to focus your attention always to the original design scope. Do not let your design affect the functionality of your product else you will not end with your product. Return to roots of it and ask yourself why the design is needed for the product. Let’s take for example the new air actuated corkscrew. What the designers have discovered was the problem is not the design of the corkscrew but how to get the cork from the bottle. Rather than making a new cork screw the designers just made the air pump corkscrew to solve the issue. By that example, we can learn that the wise thing to do is to be simple in our designs.

How to Increase Your Personal Productivity

Sarah was envious of her colleague who manages to get off work on time every day. She seems to be able to accomplish all her projects on time. In addition to that, she has the time to offer help to the rest of her members on her team. Sarah, on the other hand has to take her work home in order to complete her project on time.

Her colleague, Betty always has a list to check off from before she leaves for the day. In addition, she has a separate list whereby she lists her task for the next day. She wondered if that small piece of paper laid the secret to her personal productivity. Sarah decided to find out from her colleague, Betty.

According to Betty, the small list which she wrote out the day before allows her to plan her day the next day. This is indeed one of her secrets to personal productivity and helps her to plan out her work the day before. She knows exactly what she needs to get done and accomplish for the day.

Besides that, these are the three additional personal productivity tips she has to share with her.

#1 Do a time audit

Time is a finite resource. In order to increase your personal productivity, you have to know how you are spending your time. A single table listing every activity you do and the time taken for each will reveal how you are spending your time. For instance, Betty discovered during the time audit that she was previously spending a lot of time surfing the Internet the minute she logged onto her email account at the beginning of the day. Thus, she decided to read work related email once she has completed her most vital task for the day instead of at the beginning of her work day.

#2 Set Goals

In order to make best use of your time, you have to set goals. The best way to manage your daily activities is to take your annual goals and break them into monthly, weekly and daily action steps to take.

You can better manage your time on a daily basis if you first begin the day by listing the tasks that need to be accomplished. By having a list of goals, you can also evaluate your progress on a daily basis.

#3 Monitor your progress

What gets measured improves. Once you have listed your tasks for the day, you have to evaluate your progress.

For a start, evaluate your progress on an hourly basis to ensure you have accomplished what you have set out to do in that hour. Once you are familiar with this process, you can evaluate your progress on a daily basis and subsequently on a weekly basis.

To continue to find new ways to increase your productivity at work, always take an hour a month to evaluate your activities and list down the things that can be delegated to free up your time. This one hour investment of your time also allows you to improve the process at work. You can further improve your personal productivity by using personal productivity tools.

The key to increasing your personal productivity lies in identifying your tie wasters, setting goals and evaluating your progress regularly.