The tools of productivity – Focus/Corporate Culture

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Jason Fried (from 37 Signals) talks the separation of socializing, distractions, and productivity. They  all happen in the day. The key, especially for a creative individual, is to not break focus.

I’d recommend checking out Jason’s TED talk on why work doesn’t happen at work

To expand on an excerpt – I’ll ask a few questions, as a diagnosis of the non-productivity disease. Do you suffer from any of these?

  • Not feel like there is enough time in the day?
  • Working at night/on a plane/with music helps you to be more productive?
  • Lack of motivation because you feel are burning the candles at both ends?

Here are 3 simple steps that I use to remain focused/preserve my corporate cultures for creative individuals.

* Wiring in

This tactic has gotten some real traction after the Facebook movie – a tactic called “Wiring In” (def). I prefer Techno or Dubstep as a music style to keep concentration. I tend to lead towards Techno/Dubstep as the lack of words or lyrics of the song do not break my concentration. Wiring in enables me to be focused and not-distracted – completely regardless of my surroundings. This will inevitably lead to longer-straights of productivity. It’s amazing how many people work many hours, trying to feel productive and satisfied.

* Task diversion

This one is simple – in a day, you have tasks that require immediate attention, and those that have to be done “eventually” (though may need to be finished in the same day). I break up each one of my days – in the morning, I will catch up on conversations, email, make phone calls, finish my things that “need to be done eventually”. After lunch, this is where crunch time happens for me. Try to keep focused on a task for at least 15 minutes. If you are constantly breaking your focus, it’s hard to “get back into the rhythm”

* Use email/messaging on a schedule

Not many of us, contrary to our own belief, are not 100% needed 24/7 in a properly functioning company. I recommend passive communication (not in the traditional sense, but rather communication methods that can be easily multi-tasked). At my company, we only use instant messenger and email communication – even if we are in the same room. Some people may find that odd, but the fact is, we have been able to scale to a multi-million dollar organization handling, at one time, hundreds of clients with just 3 people. Headphones go on, all other distractions are drowned out (email shut off/inter-office phone calls stopped/instant messenger turned off) until I reach a break point.

Try these out, even for a day – you will see the difference! Report back your findings 🙂

The tools of productivity – a guide to straightforward self-management #1

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This is a quick introduction to a few posts I’ll be doing on productivity.

* Google Apps

Google Apps was the turning point in my self-management. From the Google Mail interface, I have easy access to Tasks, Calendar, Filtering and Documents.

These simple functions tie together with a number of smartphones, including

Blackberry, iPhone, and of course, Android.

What problem these solutions have solved:

* No more clients missed because they went from “hot” to “warm” to “cool” – not following up in a timely matter, or something like missing a demo can be a critical turning point. If you do not run into this problem, great – you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough 🙂

Upcoming tools (which all integrate with Google Apps!)

  1. CRM – the best customer relationship manager I have found
  2. Advanced Task and Project management
  3. Marketing and Followup through drip-email marketing
  4. Accounting automation – a tax, invoicing and payment solution
  5. Support – an all-around support solution that scales