How to save 2 hours everyday

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you have to work only 6 hours each day and achieve amazing productivity in the workplace? You can then spend rest of your day doing stuff you love. That seems like a distant dream. But you will soon discover how to turn that dream into reality.

This kind of workday has become so much a part of my life that I call it “the 6-hours workday“.

The 6 hours workday methodology has two stages:
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A Culture of Productivity

Our world is getting more and more complex, and there is no looking back. In these turbulent times, a new demand has risen. A culture that people want but are they are unaware of. A culture of productivity.  Here are ten essential elements of the culture of productivity:

  1. Defining work is also work – The master key to getting productive in 21st century is defining what the work is. Your personal effectiveness is directly proportional to the level of clarity and definition around your work.
  2. Keeping nothing in head  – Mind is like a container. If you keep it empty – often, it will instantly start creating. The secret to great work is a clear mind.
  3. Speaking wisely – If two words are sufficient, the third one is not needed. The more you use your words diligently, the more power they will carry.
  4. Focussing – Gone are the days of hard work and smart work. It’s time to get into focused work. Dedicate a fixed time focussing on one thing. Turn-off all external distractions, shut the internet, cellphone and get yourself engaged deeply.
  5. Single tasking – Stop doing two things at once. Acknowledge that you have too many things and take high quality single action choices instead of ineffective multiple choices.
  6. Editing your commitments – Make difficult choices to live easier life. It may also mean giving up things dear to you because there are other things dearer.
  7. Becoming mindful about making commitments – Think twice, thrice,…before adding a new commitment to your psyche. Are you prepared for the long haul? While it takes a few seconds to make a commitment, it may take countless hours to fulfill one and even a large amount of your attention to re-negotiate it.
  8. Consuming technology diligently – Technology can make you super efficient and save a lot of time. At the same time, technology can be damaging to your mental, physical, emotional and social world. Learn when not to use technology. Find when you can remain without it and practice it often. You will love being with yourself and with your loved ones, without technology in between.
  9. Reflecting upon experiences – Self development can come from Self. Anything you read or listen can impact you if it turns into a Self-belief. Consciously reflecting upon your behaviors, patterns and urges allows you to shape-up your self-beliefs and help you improvise.
  10. Living purposefully – What’s your purpose? What can you stand for? What’s the purpose of your day? What’s the purpose of your week? Goals follow purpose and actions fulfills them. Have purpose beyond your survival instinct. Can you take the road less travelled?

These are simple principles yet not so common. Can you embrace them? Why not get started and give it a try?

10 E-mail Best Practices for the Workplace Ninja

E-mail productivity

how to improve e-mail productivity

From highly effective communication tool to a time consuming chore, the E-mail inbox has travelled a long way. As the E-mail program became more and more sophisticated, we stared using it in innovative ways  – until it went out of control. Most of us realize that if not kept in control e-mail can quickly turn into an overhead and a serial time killer.

The Radicati Group estimates that employees send, on average, 37 work-related emails a day and receive 78. Even if you spend only a minute per email, that’s still nearly two hours of your day spent on correspondence. Multiply this by number of days you work in a year and you are spending nearly 20 days with your e-mail (pessimistically assuming checking e-mail 20 days a month).

Quite astonishing! You could probably take another vacation with that kind of time.

Saving time from your e-mail can be a big productivity booster. Here are 10 best practices I have compiled together to give you a head start:

1. Unsubscribe from all marketing and promotional e-mails unless absolutely necessary. Reading even one useless e-mail is a waste of mental energy. If some e-mails don’t stop coming in, mark them Spam and the e-mail service will promptly land them in your Spam folder.

2. For blog posts you can subscribe to RSS feed in services such as Feedly. You can read your favorite blog articles while on the go by downloading the Feedly iPhone/iPad/Android app. It’s an awesome reading experience!

3. Don’t store any useful information such as project reference material, e-tickets, receipts, invoices or word documents in your e-mail. Unknowingly I starting storing a lot of reference material in my e-mail inbox. Later on to my dismay, I realized that I invited total disorganization because half of my reference material was still outside e-mails. Then I took all the reference material out of  e-mail in Dropbox and Evernote. How good I felt!

4. Process your e-mail inbox to zero. Your e-mail inbox is meant for processing, not for long time reading. Bring it to an empty state by processing each email with velocity. Here is how to do it:

  1. Do not spend more than 2 minutes per e-mail. Make quick decision (reply, store locally to review later, move to trash or archive)
  2. If you have to reply to an email, write it, hit the send button and quickly move on to the next e-mail.
  3. If you have to read a longer e-mail, forward it to your local system or tools such as Evernote and make an action item to read/respond to it later.
  4. If you find an e-mail thread particularly useful, archive it. You can use the search function to retrieve the archived e-mails later.
  5. Delete the rest. Don’t worry they are still in trash if you deleted some by mistake.

5. Send e-mails to others the way you want to receive. As much as possible, try to send short e-mail messages and encourage people to do so. I have been subjected to the e-mail horror myself with one conversations happening right inside an e-mail thread, going as long as 4o conversations. That’s terrible use of e-mail. If longer discussion or strategic thinking is needed, have a voice call or a chat conversation instead. If more detailed information needs to be conveyed such a proposal or estimates, use e-mail attachments.

6. Don’t create extensive labels and folders in your e-mail program (remove all of them if you can). The more colored labels and folders you try to organize in your e-mail, the more time you are going to need to maintain and clean them up, which is less likely (I tried and gave it up). Don’t get sophisticated with your e-mail. Keep it simple.

7. Do not use your e-mail to store project reminders or to-do lists. I have seen many people using their e-mails to remind them about something or store action items. E-mail is a communication tool, period. Do not use it to manage your task and reminders.

8. Check your e-mail once or twice a day. Many of us have this crazy habit of checking e-mail every now and then. Don’t be an e-mail maniac. Notice your ‘urge’ to check e-mail every-time it hits you and just let it go. Take a deep breath.

9. Don’t respond to every e-mail as soon as it arrives. Your e-mail is not a 24×7 support ticketing system. Use it with sanity. Not responding to every e-mail as soon as you receive will encouraged people to send only the most useful e-mails (without the timer associated with it).  For urgent issues or quick questions, a short phone call or text message is sufficient.

10. Allocate a fixed time to your e-mail inbox. Imagine you are speed dating with your e-mail. Putting a time constraint to check your inbox allows you to focus on the most important e-mails quickly and not spending time on unimportant stuff.

A good way to encourage yourself begin incorporating these e-mail habits is to visualize the kind of things you will do  with the time saved from e-mail processing. Even if you cut down your e-mail time to half, you could do a bunch of things – a new hobby, spending more time with your family, taking an evening walk or reading a book.

What do you want to do with your new found time?

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How to improve productivity at workplace

Due to constantly rising number of distractions, Personal Productivity has become a major challenge at workplace. According to a recent study, an average person at work spends 2.1 hours in distractions everyday. Moreover, an he/she is interrupted every 11 minutes and it takes around 25 minutes to re-focus. Another major reason for lack of productivity is multi-tasking.

Here are a few simple practices you can follow to dramatically improve your productivity at workplace:

1. Set  your priorities realistically – Assess your time and available resources guided by outcomes to set your priorities. This should be done on the previous day. Before taking a task on high priority, ask yourself these questions –  Is this task going to be useful towards making progress in the most important goals? Can this task be deferred for a task which is more important? Can I delegate it to someone else?

2. Treat first 3 hours like gold mine – First 3  hours of your day are most critical. Try to pump out as much as you can in the first 3 hrs. Get your top priority task done in this time. If possible, turn-off your cell phone and internet so that you can give your 100%.

3. Check your e-mails only twice a day – If the nature of your work does not involve a “customer support” like role then don’t try to be one. Check your e-mail twice a day, once at the beginning and second at the end of the day.

4. Work after allocating time to the task – This is lesser known but real secret to great productivity. Before you start a task, tell yourself  the time you will take to finish it. For example, I told myself to write this blog post in less than 60 minutes. As soon as your brain has a constraint of time, it starts processing the “most useful” information faster. It is in full action. Try doing this and you will love the results.

5. Stop multi-tasking – Multi-tasking is the biggest curse of our times. The moment you start doing two tasks, you spread yourself into half for each of them and none of them gets it’s due.

6. Review work done or not done during the day – At the end of the day, review the tasks done or not done during the day. Re-prioritize your tasks and choose the top 3-5 tasks you will get done next day.

Once you start following these practices, you will notice a remarkable increase in your productivity and a sense of self satisfaction.

What Productivity tricks do you follow at workplace?

5 steps to supercharge your productivity

During certain occasions you feel perplexed looking at the sheer amount of tasks that needs to be done. You start feeling stressed, literally submitting to the circumstances and giving all up in the form of procrastination. There is just too much to do and to little time to think and act. If you feel anything like this, doing the 5 steps below will help you get back into action:

  1. Write your ‘to-do’ list on paper or screen – Take all the tasks out of your head, into an external entity. After all your mind is not the best place to store your ‘to-do’ list.
  2. Process your ‘to-do’ items – Sort the list into three categories – immediate, later and future
  3. Pick the highest priority task – From your “immediate” list, pick one item which is a burning priority or hot on the list
  4. Identify the next action – For this “immediate” task, identify the next action you can take right now
  5. Do it – Take the action

You will notice that you instantly start feeling better. Why did this happen? Of course there are some basic mind principles at play. I will share some deeper insight into this in the next article.

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