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Friday Fun – Productivity Tips

I’m often asked how I get so much done and I often think, I don’t get that much done. I know I could do more! I’ve had “notes” on this entry for a while, but seeing Darren’s post on Blogging and the Art Time Management made me want to finish it up.

I guess I do get a lot done. I work 8-5 Monday through Friday. I sleep from 12-6:45, workout for 30 minutes then off to work. At night I work out, fix dinner and do dishes from 5:30-7:00. That leaves just 7:00-11:00 for other stuff and 11:00-12:00 to get things ready to do it again the next day. Plus quite a bit more time on the weekends, and some time used at lunch or during lulls when I’m at various places (doctors office, work, parents etc.) This is my normal schedule. Right now it’s on I’ve turned it on it’s ass because my wife is currently fighting cancer. That’s our #1 priority, everything else comes last. Not second, not third, but last. I have a office at home, but I’ve moved out of it with the laptop and do must of my work sitting on the couch with Aeryn now.

There a couple of points I want to make before I get into how I do things. So many people complain about not having time to do stuff, or that their kids get in the way or that they are just too tired when they get home etc. The fact is, if you want to do more, or not even do more, but do something other than your’re doing (maybe your’re spending all your time watching kids, or working in the garden, whatever) then you need figure out what your priority is. You can tell me all day long that you want to be a writer, blogger or web developer and do more, like I do, but if you don’t make it a priority then you’ll never do any of it. If you really want to do it, then do it. It’s that simple. Don’t tell me about why you can’t do it. There are days when it’s hard for me. Don’t lecture me that it’s because I don’t have kids, Aeryn and I decided not to have kids. Don’t tell me you have other things to do. I do too. I just decide what’s most important to me. Watching TV, reading a book, going out to eat, laundry and the million other daily chores, or is my priority writing, blogging and working on my web sites? Sometimes I have just as much trouble getting to what I love to do because of life just as much as the next person. But at the end of the day, I want to be a writer. I want to blog. I want to build up my websites. So, before you decide that you need to get something done, you need to decide what that really is. That will make the rest of the decisions easy.

And speaking of all the little things that get in your way every day, like laundry, dishes, garbage etc., these are things you can control. If you stay on top of them in the first place you won’t spend but an extra minute here or there doing these things. Keep the dishes done so that your always loading the empty dishwasher. Once it’s full, run it an plan it so that you can empty it before the next time you use dishes (I do it while cooking the next meal). Stuff like that. Most people who complain about not having enough time to do something do have time, they just don’t use it wisely. If you want to do something in your life that you haven’t made time for yet, that’s not the same as not having time. People waste time. I waste time. But in the end, no one has time. We make it. Figure out what it is you want to give your time to and make time to do it.

That said, something can’t be avoided. Things will always come up. You don’t have to let it derail you. Just remember, if you really want to do something, come back to it. Make time to get back to doing what you say you want to. If you keep talking about doing it and never do, then your just not really interested in doing it. Otherwise you would be doing it.

So, I wanted to share some of my tips for getting more done. They’ll be obvious to a lot of you, but I mainly wanted to spark a conversation. This is how I get my stuff done. How do you get all yours done? I figure this could be a fun Friday type post, something to think about over the weekend and make some positive changes for the coming week. Anyway, here goes.

Publish to the Future
I tend to write in spurts, I know quite a few other writers do the same. Sometimes creativity hits when it hits. Use this time and write up entries and save them as drafts. You can either schedule them to go out at certain times in the future, or just save them for when you’re burned out or behind schedule and pull out one of your drafts

Get Hip
I fell in love with the Hipster PDA, which is nothing more than note cards with a binder clip (sometimes called a jim clip) holding them together. I always have them in my back pocket. Use them to jot down blog entry ideas, or parts of an entry so you can finish it later. You can also use the cards to write down urls, emails and other contact information when your out and about. This has come in so handy that I sold my Zire!

Use downtime wisely
We all get stuck waiting in lines or in Dr. Offices. Take your laptop, or at least a note pad and start writing a blog entry or other content for your site. I write quite a few of my non time sensitive posts this way. In the lulls between other things to do. Just don’t be that guy doing it while he’s driving. Nobody likes that guy!

Use your tools wisely.
Gathering content for you blogs is probably the biggest chore in the whole process. Get lots of sources for information and use them! Just some quick ones that I use daily:

- Newsletters
- RSS Reader (offline + online with Bloglines)
- Blogs
- Google Alerts
- Technorati
- del.icio.us
- Feedster
- Ecto/Mars Edit offline blog editor (works with all major blogs)
- Taks (I use an online todo list called “tasks” and I love it. Try it out!
- Tabbed Browsing (If you aren’t using tabbed a tabbed browser by now, I doubt your even reading this blog, but it is *must have* for serious surfers, especially power bloggers).

Among others. There are lots of tools to help you do more in less time. Use them!

Scheduling and Creativity
One of the common questions asked of published writers if they get writers block and most of them say no. Writers block is mostly being distracted and uninspired to do what you need to do. I’ve found the best way to keep from getting “burned” or “blocked” is to create a regular schedule for my writing and publishing. It helps train my mind that these times are creative times and making the transition from say, programming or marketing my sites is much easier. Make a schedule and stick to it and your creativity will flow much better.

Sometimes you’ll need to take a step back though. Go read something fun, like a good book or get outside and away from your computer. But make sure you get back to writing. Clearing your head often will do the trick.

Productivity
Productivity is all about getting organized and getting yourself set into a routine and schedule. Everyone works in different ways, but if you haven’t taken a look at the (cult) Getting Things Done book by David Allen, you need to. Getting Things Done, even if you don’t follow it 100% will change the way you get organized and improve your productivity as well as free your mind and let you relax knowing all your “stuff” is under control.

Have a plan and Goals
Make sure you have a long term plan with specific goals. You need something to work towards and a top level view of what your doing or you’ll end up spinning your wheels and never going anywhere. Make sure you know what your end goal is and make every move count towards moving you closer to reaching that goal.

Just Do It
I’ve lived by this simple philosophy for a while, unapologetically borrowed from Nike. Don’t talk about doing it, Just Do It. I know so many people who talk about doing this, or talk about doing this. And I fall victim to it from time to time myself. But that’s why I wear a Nike ball cap to help me remember that sometimes, you just have to do it to get it done.

Have Fun
If it’s not fun, your probably doing it wrong. Life is just too short to not love what your doing. Have fun, or move on to something that is. With all the opportunities out there it should be just a matter of finding what you love and then finding a way to make money doing it. If it feels like work and you dread doing it, you’ll never get it done. So find your passion! Have a blast.

And with that, I ask you, how do you handle all the stuff on your plate? These are just a few of the things I keep in mind trying to get all my stuff done. How do you manage?

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Comments

  1. Heat says:

    Wow, now that’s a good thoughtful post :)….

    Those points really helped me as for arranging my time, but…the thing that iv’e learned from this post…is to be determined…i think that’s the key of this post…that’s the way i understood alot of parts in it…

    Great post dude! really help me as a blogger :)

    Heat

  2. Cary says:

    Chris, Lori & I are off to chemo as I write this, but I just wanted to say “great freakin’ post!” You’ve provided a bunch of great ideas. I’m looking forward to checking them out better when I have time.

    Oh, and hello Mr. Heat ; D

  3. Chrispian says:

    Thanks for the feedback. Felt look a good way to end the week giving us something to think about for the coming week! Hopefully we’ll get some other great tips from other busy bloggers!

  4. Cary Miller says:

    I have one tip to offer that comes from my writing background, and not really from my short blogging background…

    Writer’s block is more of a mental state than a real phenomena…from my experience, writer’s block is a belief that you have nothing to write, and so you will often keep yourself from even sitting down at the typewriter to try. That’s where people fumble. What I have learned is that even when you think you have nothing to say, even when you think you have complete writer’s block, just find something, ANYTHING, to post about and make yourself write just a few sentences.

    Just a few sentences : )

    You will usually find that just writing those first couple of sentences will get you past your block. It works pretty much all the time for me. The trick is in understanding that you just need to start writing!

  5. Mike says:

    Chris,

    My wife and I thought we were the only one’s who had schedules like ours. Now we know of at least one other time tamer.

    Great post and keep up the good work.

    Life’s a beach…blog hard !

  6. Raymond says:

    It’s really true about setting priorities. People who say they are too busy to do this or that. I think they really like being busy. That’s why they do it. If they didn’t, they would stop and think about how to change it.

  7. Emosokolov says:

    … and the fact that you actualy enjoy days like this, makes you hero in my eyes. Congrats on your energy pool, mine is 1/4 of yours.

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