Do too much

Sounds like a plan to me. Jensen Karp – if he were any more famous you’d have heard of him – is a writer and producer who spoke with Fast Company about doing a gigantic amount of work at the same time. I read this and conclude he’s young. But give the article credit: it uses the word ‘myriad’ correctly.

Have a read of the full piece, will you?

Talk to your team when you can’t talk to your team

I’ve been working with a firm who has the problem that its very many staff all work different patterns so it’s difficult just knowing who is in today and who you don’t have to worry about why they’re late. Many can and some do work from home, too, so keeping track of everyone is tough and scheduling company-wide meetings is murder.

Don’t tell them, but when I go back in next week, I’m going to recommend they use a certain type of technology to help. In fact, I was going to recommend Slack for certain until I read the Huffington Post’s research into all apps that can help large teams function together. I still almost certainly will recommend it as the HuffPost is certainly praising of it too:

Slack claims to be changing the way teams communicate, and looking at testimonials, it appears to do just that. The desktop and mobile allows teams to chat in channels with conversations divided by subjects, and you can chat and share photos, videos and music. So it’s a bit like having an ongoing meeting which you can dip in and out of. Slack is free to download, with Standard, Plus and Enterprise ($49-99/month) options with enhanced features, like Google apps integration and usage stats.

7 Workplace Chat Apps to Keep Your Team in Sync – Jack Flanagan, Huffington Post (28 March 2015)

Read the full piece to see what all of these apps do and just what they are. And then take a look at Slack. Also, take a look at this video from the Slack company:

The best time of day to do anything productive

Fast Company doesn’t share all its working out but its article by Stephanie Vozza has specific advice on when best to get things done, particularly when you’ve got to work with other people. Two examples:

If you want to get a reply to your email, consider sending it early in the morning, between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. Reply rates are highest in the morning—about 45%—according to the Yesware study.

Fewer emails are sent during these time slots, lowering competition. The study also found all weekdays to be equal. So don’t worry about the day; focus on the morning, instead.

Monday-morning meetings are a staple at many companies, but if participation is low, there’s a reason why. Only one in three employees is likely to attend, according to a study by the online scheduling service “If you have a meeting at 9 a.m., employees will need to prepare the day before, or turn up underprepared,” research coordinator Keith Harris told Inc.. If they’re not prepared, they won’t come up.

Get more participation by holding meetings at 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, the company found. Tuesday afternoon stands out “because that is the furthest you can get from the deadlines at the end of the week without bumping into the missed deadlines from the week before,” said Harris.

The Best Time Of Day To Do Everything At Work – Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company (23 June 2015)

Read the full piece.

A bit of this, a bit of that

Today is probably the first day in three months that I have felt on top of things. I’m not. But I feel that I am. And it’s because I did this:

One hour on this project
One hour on that
One hour on the other

It broke down slightly, there were urgent interruptions but having set aside an hour to do something, I did it. As it happens, the first task only took me 37 minutes. I don’t usually count that precisely but I enjoyed the thought that I could take the rest of the hour off so I noticed. And I took it off.

A later hour took 67 minutes, but.

All of the things I am working on took steps forward today and I have to feel good about that. I do admittedly also feel good that I got this idea from my own book, The Blank Screen.

Okay, so I’m feeling on top of things and just a teeny bit smug about that. But join me in smugness, will you? It feels good.

Using Evernote to write books

It’s a piece from so, you know, there’s not going to be a lot of criticism here but still:

Every day, people rely on Evernote to compile, catalog, organize their research and writing.

For author and chief Business Insider correspondent Nicholas Carlson, Evernote was the primary tool he used to write a 93,000 word book. In six weeks.

That boils down to an average of 2,500 words every day.

This week, Nicholas stopped by our Redwood City HQ to talk about how he used Evernote as the comprehensive writing workspace for his newly published book, “Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!”

How to Write a 93,000 Word Book With Evernote – Taylor Pipes, Evernote Blog (18 January 2015)

Read the full piece.

Under-promise and over-deliver

This is from last year but it’s a goodie from Lifehacker: it’s advice for freelancers about time management. Each section has a good summary of the issue and then links out to much more detailed Lifehacker articles. Here’s my favourite:

Picking the right projects and charging what you’re worth are the foundation for your life as a freelancer. The other main part is simply scheduling.

We’ve recently posted tips for how to better estimate time for projects, but you might want to double that time estimate or at least add some “buffer time”… That extra time is especially important when you’re tackling a new project area or it involves something highly susceptible to Murphy’s Law (e.g., when writing an article about upgrading a computer—everything will go wrong, trust me).

The more generous you are with estimating your time, the better you’ll be able to follow through on your commitments and follow the golden rule in business: Under-promise and over-deliver.

The Freelancer’s Guide to Time Management – Melanie Pinola, Lifehacker (28 August 2014)

Read the full piece.

Plan tomorrow’s first thing now

Like laying out tomorrow’s clothes last thing at night – which I still never remember to do – make a short note about the first thing you’ve got to do. Well, the first thing after breakfast and all that. The first thing that needs to be done when you get to your desk.

Then do it. Get to that desk, do that thing. Do it before you check emails, do it before you look at the rest of the day.

Don’t write a very big note but do write exactly enough so that when you sit down and read that scribble, you can immediately begin the work.

This does a lot for you. It starts you off well, it means you’ve got something important done right off the bat, it means you’re deep into your day before you’ve properly woken up. And it also keeps you away from your email which is a brilliant tool but also a very destructive one.

Priorities for people who disagree with me

I think sorting things into priority order is a way of prevarication and it’s a stupid way, too: the time you spend doing that, you could be doing the stuff. And when you’ve got your rinky-dinky perfectly-prioritised list done just so, something else will come up.

But I stand alone on this, or at least in very little company. And others make much more of the issue. Much more:

But most of the time we can simply choose to not be busy. Yes, this means less important things won’t get done, gasp! But… if they’re less important, who cares? This isn’t lazy, this is smart.

Problems with busyness arise when we feel like victims. “Gawd, if only I wasn’t so busy I would do xyz instead.” But, if it’s actually more important, why not do that instead. And if it’s not as important, stop stressing over not doing it!

Would you rather complete less important things and be busy and stressed all the time, or would you rather focus on what’s important, not caring for the unimportant, and having a more relaxing and less stressed life?

A Lack of Time is a Lack of Priorities – ALex Vermeer, (April 2013)

Read the full piece if you want to think about urgent versus important – which is a fair point – and not a gigantic amount else.

Dramatic timing

Pretend you’re presenting Strictly Come Dancing or The X Factor or any of those: spread things out for maximum dramatic effect – and it’ll help you get it done.

This one needs an example. I’ve just taken over running a programme of about 24 writers who are being paired up into buddies. It got complicated: the number varied, everyone must pair with everyone else but only once, some dropped out, some joined, all that. But in the end, last Sunday, I had the list of who was to work with whom.

And as I was about to post it on the group’s secret Facebook group, I stopped. Instead of the whole list, I just put the first pair up. And announced that I would reveal the rest throughout the day. I was called a tease.

Every thirty minutes for the rest of the day I revealed one pair. It was a daft and a fun idea but you can’t believe how it helped me. I became very conscious that I had to write a new, funny announcement every 28 minutes or so. So I’d post the new one and immediately get on with other work I had to do, shovelled through as much of that as I could before my alarm went off and I did another announcement.

I got a huge amount of work done that day and it felt like a game. If there is anything of yours that you can spread out like this, give it a try, okay? It focuses you like nobody’s business.

Now, there is actually a strong chance that not one single one of those writers noticed this because they could’ve just come on at the end of the day and seen the whole list. So next time I’m going to spread it out over days. I don’t think that will help my productivity, I think it’ll be more fun.

Dayflow productivity app (briefly) free

This isn’t for me, but it may well be for you: Dayflow is for alloting time to specific tasks or goals. The example given is that you want to read for an hour every day. So you set that up and this app reminds you to do it, then tells you when you have.

I’ve been thinking about allotting time to particular projects so that I did keep them going, tootling along, so I’ve grabbed the app while it’s free. Usually Dayflow costs either 69p/£1.99 UK and 99c/$2.99 US so if it’s right for you, it’s bargain even if the brief sale is over by the time you click just about here.