#044: Productivity Experiment Results So Far [Podcast]

I recently wrote here on the blog about some new productivity “tweaks” with which I have been experimenting. Today's podcast is a report on the results.

business concept on wall

In this week's podcast episode:

  • A “field report” on my latest productivity experiments.
  • An alternative to mindmaps.
  • How to get free of those “guilty feelings”.
  • Stu McLaren on hiring the right people.

Tip Of The Week

Not into mind mapping, but wish there was an easy way to outline your ideas? You have got to try Workflowy. It was made for the purpose.

Spiritual Foundations

Are you plagued by feelings of guilt, about regrets over what you should have done in a certain situation? Don't be…

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2

When Jesus came and paid the price for sin, that included all of our sins. Past, present, and future. That means is far as he is concerned, we have nothing to regret. A “guilty conscience” is not the work of our father in heaven, but is the work of the enemy-the devil. See Hebrews [9:14].

Lifestyle Business

Stu McLaren has wisdom to share on the subject of hiring-and on not being cheap.

Feature Segment: Results of My Productivity Experiments

Recently, I wrote on my blog a post about a new plan for improved productivity in 2013. I thought it might be useful to share the results so far. Works and all.

Here are the plans I wrote about, and a report on my observations

Productivity Philosophy.  If you are not familiar with the GTD philosophy, I encourage you to read David Allen's seminal work on stress-free productivity. A great augmentation to the GTD material is one of my favorite new podcasts and websites, Erik Fisher's “Beyond the To-Do List”. At this point, I would give myself a “brown belt” when it comes to GTD. My biggest challenge is keeping my inboxes to zero, and limiting those inboxes to the smallest number possible.

Planning. In keeping with my adherence to GTD, my planning is fairly simple. I have a weekly review session on Fridays, during which I collect all the inputs that have accumulated over the past week, and one by one clear them from my inbox.  So far I've done a pretty good job of keeping on top of my weekly reviews. I'd say I am at about 90% on this one.

Disciplined Tracking.  For business activities, I am developing a dashboard for my company in Excel to keep track of key metrics. Frankly, I've gotten so caught up in looking for the perfect dashboard, I haven't really started using one yet. That will change within the next three days, as I am forcing myself to pick some kind of tracking system. Even if it is  3 x 5 cards.

Productivity Tools. In the past, I have been a “tool junkie”. I have actually managed to not look at any new productivity tools since the beginning of the year. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but it's a big deal to me.

Boundaries. This year, I am resolved to stick to my regimen of only answering email once a day, and the same for phone calls. I also intend to be “off the grid” three days a week for both email and phone calls. Still my biggest challenge. My name is Ray Edwards, and I am a recovering “yes man”.

Guarding My Heart and Mind. Toxic thoughts and emotions destroy us. Toxic thinking limits our potential for accomplishment. Toxic emotions limit our potential for happiness and fulfillment. In the new year, I will not allow negative thinking, language, images, or emotions to pierce the boundary of my sight or hearing. While I have improved in this area, I still have work today. Have watched a couple of things on television that, in retrospect, were a bit dark and cynical and viewpoint. It isn't possible to watch things like this and walk away unaffected.

Task Batching. I perform best when I batch similar tasks together and do them all at once. This is going pretty well for me, because it is exit become a habit of mine over the last few years.

Focus Blocks. “Focus blocks” are clearly defined blocks of time that I use to focus on one single task.  I can tell you this. It seems that making a declaration about a new habit is a surefire way to become a lightning rod for challenges and resistance to that habit.

Digital Fasting. I am a digital junkie. I love Facebook, Twitter, Google+, email, RSS feeds… you get the idea. That's why it's important to me to completely unplug frequently. My goal is to be completely free of email, voice mail, and Internet consumption… 100% free… at least one day a week. I have done pretty well, but frankly no where near 100%. This Sunday, I'm shooting for 100%.

Sabbath. One day each week, my intention is to be at complete rest. Same answer as the previous section.

The Positive No. I mentioned earlier that it is difficult for me to say “no” to people. This year, my default response to every request made of me will be, at least initially, “no”. I had a few chances to practice this, but I still wouldn't counted as one of my core disciplines. Yet.

Income Producing Activity Hours. I have identified the activities which are most likely to result in producing revenue for my company: speaking, writing, marketing and advertising, and creating new material or trainings. There are a few other income-producing activities, such as networking, sales calls, and developing JV relationships. I am creating carefully protected and intricately planned “focus blocks” for these activities. These are among the first activities to be scheduled in my calendar. This one has worked out surprisingly well so far.

Writing Time. This is in my top tier of income producing activities. It is also in my top tier of spiritually fulfilling activities. Therefore, this is one of my very highest priorities, and will be one of my most protected assets in the new year.

30 Day Challenges. I love new ideas, and I love trying them out. So much so, that I have tended, in the past, to try out many different ideas in a single week. Therefore, in the new year, each month I plan to adopt one “30 Day Challenge”. A single new habit, activity, or discipline. I will post each month's 30 day challenge publicly, and at the end of the 30 days report on my experience. . Hardest one of all for me to keep. My Challenge this month was to journal daily. We're on day 16 of the month, and I've written in my journal four days

My plan going forward is to become more disciplined about my new habits, and not to simply give up. That's the mistake I think most people make when it comes to resolutions, or adopting any new discipline.

Special Announcements

  1. I’m attending the Platform Conference in Nashville. It is nearly sold out. The purpose of the conference: to help you “get noticed in a noisy world.” It’s being put on by Michael Hyatt and Ken Davis. My friends Stu McLaren and Carrie Wilkerson are speaking. I’m also looking forward to meeting  Jeff Goins, Cliff Ravenscraft, Pat FlynnJohn Saddington, Michele Cushatt, and Andrew Buckman. Unlike most conferences, there’s not a single speaker I’m not excited to hear and to meet. Get a ticket while you can!
  2. I was written up by Eric T Wagner on Forbes.com this week. You can check out the article here.

Would you like to have me speak at your event? Click here to visit my speaking page and get details on my availability.

Your Feedback

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What Are you doing to be more productive in the new year? And how are your New Year's resolutions coming along? Share your ideas and tactics below in the comments.



Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.