How To Find Time To Create A Productivity System.
This week, it’s all about how to find the time to set up a system when you are already stressed out and overwhelmed.
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Hello and welcome to episode 156 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.
One of the more common objections to taking the time to build a productivity system is a belief that a person is far too busy to get organised. It’s an objection that has always made me smile because I often ask why a person is so busy they don’t have time to organise their work in the first place? It’s because they don’t have any kind of system for managing all the inputs that are coming their way in the first place and leads to a build-up of backlog and trying to remember everything in their heads.
It’s a vicious circle. No system, more inputs, less time and an overwhelming feeling of things spiralling out of control. And that ultimately leads to very dark places such as ill-health caused by stress and depression.
So, how do you manage all these inputs and find the time to get control of all the work you must do? That’s what I am answering this week.
Now, before I do get to this week’s question, October is the best time to begin planning the coming year. And, well 2020 has not turned out exactly as many of us had hoped.
In order to help you develop an achievable plan and to help you dive deep into your dreams and goals and bring them forward so you can begin making progress on them, I have reduced the price of my Time And Life Mastery course.
I know it is difficult to maintain focus on our goals and dreams, but while it may be difficult it is not impossible, and I devised a course that helps you to uncover those goals and dreams and shows you how to build them into your everyday life so you can start making progress on them.
Time And Life Mastery is my premium course and it is packed full of ideas, methods and strategies that will help you turn dreams into actionable goals.
So for a short period of time, you can buy this course, which is normally $99.00, for just $74.99. That’s a 25% saving. It’s a course that will not only show you how to build a life you want, it will also inspire you to take action.
I do hope you will join me on the course. I put my heart and soul into this because I know it works. I have been using these principles myself over the last ten years and it has allowed me to start two companies, get my health in order and to leave the so-called rat race of working for a company and being told what to do by boss and build a life I am in control of and love living and that energises me every day.
I hope you will join me in this course and turn 2021 into the year you wanted for 2020.
Okay, it’s time for me now to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question.
This week’s question comes from Tina. Tina asks: Hi Carl, I’ve taken a few of your courses and love them. The problem I have is I just cannot get on top of my work. I have so much to do and feel there is so little time to do it. I end up having to catch up with my work in evenings and at weekends and I am sick and tired of this. I have no time to put into practice all the things I have learned. I get so many messages and emails from my customers, and my bosses don’t help. Is there anything I can do to just get a little control?
Hi Tina, thank you so much for your question.
I know this is common—you are certainly not alone. I’ve come across clients of mine that have thousands of tasks on a backlog list that go back more than 12 months. When you find yourself in this situation it can feel like you are drowning and the temptation to just give up can be strong.
But there is hope.
The first thing to do is just stop. Stop trying to catch up and take a day off. Okay, I know, you are thinking how can a day off solve this problem? Well, the thing to realise is continuing as you are is obviously not working. What will happen if you don’t stop and change the way you are working currently? Something is going to break. Either your health will or your career will. Neither of which are particularly good outcomes.
So, what do you do in this day off?
Well, the first thing to understand is by stopping you put a stop to all inputs for 24 hours. I know, your email inbox will continue to fill up and if you are using Slack, Microsoft Teams or Twist, I am sure those inboxes will continue to fill up too. Let them. You need to put a 24 hour stop in new inputs.
A good tip here is before you take that day off, tell everyone you are away and will not be checking messages and emails—you can set up an auto-reply for this.
Now the reason for taking a day off is to set up a basic system. You need to Implement COD. COD stands for Collect, Organise and Do and what that means is you need to set up a system to collect all these inputs quickly and efficiently, you then need to organise these inputs somewhere and you need to be spending enough time each day doing.
Now, I am not sure what tools you are using at the moment, but you do need a task manager, a calendar and a notes app. Set up your task manager so you can collect tasks both on your mobile phone and your computer as quickly as you can.
Now to get fast at collecting takes a little time and practice, but you must do this. With all the inputs coming at you, you need a simple list of everything coming in so you can stay focused on whatever work you are doing at the moment.
Collecting everything into one place—a place you need to trust—means you are by-passing your head. As David Allen points out, “your head is a terrible office”, it is not going to remember everything. Your brain is designed to solve problems and be alert to threats to your life. Calling back a customer may be important to your work, but your brain will never treat it as urgent. It’s not a threat to your life, so it drops very quickly to the bottom of your brain’s priorities. Never trust you will remember something later. You won’t, not if you begin to feel hungry—your brain will always prioritise that over remembering to reply to your boss’s email.
Write it down. Get it into your inbox.
Now, once you have a collection system set up, you need to have a system for organising your work. Now, here is where things get interesting. I could give you a long, detailed explanation of a system of managing your projects and files, but there is no guarantee it will work for you. The best organisation system is always going to be personal to you.
For example, I manage my tasks by when I will do them—the Time Sector System. My project files are managed in my cloud storage system and my project notes are managed in my notes app. That works for a lot of people, but not everyone. A lot of people prefer the old fashioned way of managing their tasks by projects and tags. If that works for you, that’s great. Find the best way to manage your tasks and projects that works for you.
But the basics still apply. You need a place to keep your project files—that could be your customer files instead of projects if you are in customer support. You need a way to organise your tasks. Not all tasks need doing today or even this week. I have around twenty tasks that can be done next month, so these are in my next month folder. I also have seven tasks in next week already and we are only on Tuesda…