How to become a productivity master…with Polly [Part 1]
Polly is a lifetime learner and the founder of Webdesh web studio. She describes herself as a junior entrepreneur, designer and a good person. She also loves travelling, is a driver for social change and is one of the creators of a community for female founders in Bulgaria called FEBcommunity.
Polly is a close friend of mine and a guru in productivity. I invited her to share her thoughts and knowledge on why it is so important to lead a productive life. I hope with her help become a productivity master, or at least get closer to bbeing your own productivity role-model.
The topic is presented more as general guidelines, rather than an article as it was a result of a video presentation Polly made for her team.
I have long been quite passionate about productivity. At work, it contributes to better performance by increasing the quantity of the tasks you can manage, and the quality of their execution; in our everyday life – it can free space (and time) to do more of the things you love, help you prioritise the important things, decrease stress and ultimately lead to more happiness and personal satisfaction.
But first things first.
Productivity: “Productivity is a measure of economic performance that compares the amount of goods and services produced (output) with the amount of inputs used to produce those goods and services.”[Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.]
That means that the more output there is from the input you do, the more productive you are.
Productivity is not the same as hardworking.
Deep Work: “Deep work is effective for two reasons: it helps you avoid distractions and rewires your brain to help you learn hard things faster – so you can get better work done in less time.
“Deep work is the best way to learn new skills quickly. When you concentrate deeply, your brain cements learning pathways and strengthens the connections between neurons so they can fire faster. That means when you focus intensely on a specific skill, you’re literally rewiring your brain to help you perform that skill more effectively. Furthermore, research suggests that this rewiring can only happen when you concentrate on a single task at a time while avoiding distraction“. [For more information see the “What is deep work? 7 ways to boost your concentration”.]
In order to reach a state of “deep work” you need approx. 20-40 min.
Attention Residue: “When you switch between tasks — like checking your phone while drafting a project proposal — a bit of your attention gets stuck on the prior task. So even when you go back to writing, a part of your brain is still thinking about that text message you just saw. This phenomenon is called attention residue” [Source: https://asana.com/resources/what-is-deep-work]
How to be more productive?
1. Turn off notifications and decrease distractions – otherwise you are losing more than 40% of your time.
“Recent estimates find that while each task switch might waste only 1/10th of a second, it can add up to a 40% productivity loss if you do lots of switching in a day. This number might be higher if benchmarked against an executive who spends several hours a day in flow.” [Source: Harvard Business Review, “Stop Letting Push Notifications Ruin Your Productivity”]
What does data show? Let’s make a simple calculation. A person usually looks into the phone approx. 85 times a day – which is on average every 15 min. You need 23 min. to go into flow. So it turns out you are actually not working productively at all. According to research, phone ringing is one of the biggest stress factors in our life while all notifications bring us stress as well.
What happens in our body? “The body’s sympathetic nervous system kicks into action and hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released into the body. These hormones trigger a number of physical reactions such as increased heart rate, sweaty palms and a swooping feeling in the stomach as blood moves away from the gut towards the muscles in your arms and legs to prepare you to either face the danger or run away.” [Source: https://feeldoppel.co.uk/blogs/news/notifications-are-stressful-how-to-beat-phone-stress]
For example, in Webdesh we respect people’s time, focus and attention so if we call on the phone another team member it just means that it is something very important or urgent to discuss. Phone calls simulate urgency, while all notifications stimulate stress. As a result, we start executing tasks, which are not necessarily your priority because it could be someone else’s (for example – when a client calls demanding you do something urgently that was not previously urgent or planned as such).
“Some researchers think that the goals of a given task can even “decay from memory” when we’re interrupted.” [Source: https://www.discovermagazine.com/technology/phone-notifications-are-messing-with-your-brain ]
“Over time, in order to complete the same amount of work, you actually need a lot more self-control [and] cognitive resources to do that refocusing,” says Kostadin Kushlev, a behavioural scientist at Georgetown University. “The idea here is that you would get tired faster and then later on in the day you’d be even more prone to distraction because you’re just like, ‘Okay, I’m tired, I’m just gonna scroll. I give up.’”
2. Stop multitasking
“Multitasking is a myth. In reality, it’s rapidly switching from one task to another, and then back again. And every time you make that switch, you pay a ‘tax’ on both your time and your energy. For that reason, it’s almost always more efficient to monotask: Focus on one thing and move on when you’re done, so you don’t pay unnecessary switching taxes.” – Dr. Sahar Yousef, Cognitive Neuroscientist, UC Berkley. [Source: “Multitasking doesn’t work—here’s what does.”]
Multitasking impacts your memory and leads to burn out. It is important to differentiate automated activities like walking or doing dishes – you can listen to a podcast and walk and this is not multitasking. Multitasking is you trying to think for 2 tasks at a time or thinking about one while doing another that also requires your attention and focus (like writing an email while talking on the phone or executing a creative task while listening to an online training).
“…in his best-selling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“, Stephen Covey repackaged Eisenhower’s insights into a simple tool to prioritize tasks, now known as the Eisenhower Matrix (also known as The Time Management Matrix, The Eisenhower Box, The Eisenhower Method, and The Urgent-Important Matrix).” [Source: “Avoid the “Urgency Trap”]
Tasks in Q1 – tasks you do immediately. Tasks in Q2 – for example, tasks connected with improving processes or new marketing campaigns; in Webdesh for example, we try to dedicate every Friday to such kinds of tasks.
Pro tip: Be careful not to procrastinate the tasks from Q2. They might not be urgent, but they are important. Cleaning up your desk or arranging the wardrobe or organising your project management board in Trello/Asana (or whatever you use) can significantly improve your state of mind. So, it’s also good to have processes to keep you and your company on track. If there are no tasks in Q1, there is no reason to not do Q2 tasks.
Q3 – tasks to delegate or bundle;
Q4 – distraction tasks (generally – waste ot time). If you are wondering whether a task is a distraction, ask yourself: Does the distraction make me feel worse afterwards? For example, eating junk food, watching a reality show on TV, etc.
Arranging the wardrobe or celebrating your birthday makes you feel happy. But if there are newsletters that make you feel worse, better unsubscribe.
NB! If you are blocking a team’s work or somebody else’s work the task can go from Q2 to Q1. It’s important not to be egocentric. Other than that you can follow your muse.
We will continue the topic in Part 2 very soon. Stay tune and in the meantime:
Може да чуете епизода на FEB Community Stories с участието на Поли, където отново си говорим за продуктивност, но и за женско предприемачество и други интересни теми.
Още от мен: абонирайте се за седмичния ми бюлетин