Ninja productivity by Taylor Jacobson
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Ninja productivity by Taylor Jacobson

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This is a personal development book.Don't forget to check my uploads where you can download more free books and follow me because i regularly upload books.

This is a personal development book.Don't forget to check my uploads where you can download more free books and follow me because i regularly upload books.

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    Ninja productivity by Taylor Jacobson Ninja productivity by Taylor Jacobson Presentation Transcript

    • 12 STEPS TO NINJA PRODUCTIVITY A twelve week plan to help you overcome procrastination, consistently do your best work and create a more balanced lifestyle. Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved | Photo Credit: Shantanu Starick Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Ninja Productivity – The Back Story As promised, I'm going to share a few of my "ninja productivity" secrets with you. They're all super concise, and as with everything I send you, it's up to you what to take or leave. First, I'd like to share the rather amusing back story. Sometimes I'm embarrassed to admit that it took me five months to get my blog launched. Launching a blog is so easy these days, it's the sort of thing that grandmas (god bless them) can do in one night, while knitting and watching infomercials. My friends and family are pretty kind, so no one actually asked me what the heck was taking me so long. Still, I know what they were thinking when they asked "how much longer" and I promised, "next month" -- for three straight months. I have two justifications for having taken such an inordinate amount of time to launch. The first explanation is that a commercial blog is quite complex and nuanced, with many moving parts and new skills to learn. which meant that my animal instincts were always letting me know that there were other things I could do with my time. What this added up to was a massive self-experiment in learning how to combat procrastination. When I got started in August 2012, it was a stretch to say I was really "working" on my blog. I worked five hours on a good day, and got easily distracted when I did. I took lots of naps, and let days at a time slip away. By December, I had transformed completely. Not only was I putting in the hours, but I was also putting in highly productive hours. Now when I work, I crank. So, I decided to compile my biggest lessons learned on how to conquer procrastination and get focused. Try implementing one of these every week and let me know how it goes. Sincerely, Fine, it is, but if that were the only issue, I'd have finished in half the time. The real explanation is that I had to learn how to get work done. Human beings, myself included, apparently have some built-in preference for putting things off. On top of that, I created a situation with zero accountability and incentives. I had no team -- not a single soul who was counting on me. I had no job or salary to lose. My expenses were insanely low, so, no rush. As a final nail in the coffin, I was single, Page 2 of 15 Taylor Jacobson Founder, 21Switchbacks.com P.S. The best way to make new habits stick is to take on one small change at a time. If you take on too much at once, you set yourself up to fail, and start to believe you can’t change. Instead, create a series of small wins and you’ll conquer them all in no time ☺ Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Week #1 | Budget big blocks of time This breakthrough was courtesy of Paul Graham, who writes, "there's [a] way of using time that's common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started... "When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting." You don't have to be a "maker" to benefit from big blocks of time. Any high value work requires higher order thinking, and unless your job is shuffling papers, you'll benefit from more of it. It's normal to spend an hour just getting in the flow, which means we need to allow much more than an hour if we want to get the benefit. Start by deciding which time of day you feel most productive. Start small -- 90-120 minutes (you can extend it later, once you've created the habit). Got it? Now, have a look at your calendar and find the first day when that block of time is open. From this moment forward, act as if you cannot schedule anything during that time. Take a moment to visualize the email you'll get in 5 minutes proposing a meeting at that time. Now visualize your response: "This is an important meeting but I can't do it then. How about next Monday at 2pm?" Remember: saying "No" to that meeting is saying "Yes" to your priorities. Give it a try and let me know how it goes! Treat your productive time as a commitment to yourself -not available for scheduling other things -- and do whatever you need to do to keep that commitment. Page 3 of 15 Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Week #2 | Prioritize ONE thing The second productivity technique has to do with getting really clear about your priorities. a "tie" -- absolutely everything must hold a single, precise rank - 1, 2, 3, and so on. Usually, we think of prioritizing as a matter of ranking things on a task list, but we tend to pay lip service to the underlying concept of priorities -- those things we have that supposedly matter more than anything. Now, let's return to the main idea: choosing just one thing to prioritize every day. So before we talk about "prioritizing one thing," let's talk briefly about priorities themselves. Creating a strict prioritization can be hard because all your "high priorities" are super important. It feels fair to let them all hold roughly equal status. Saying that your health is #1 and your significant other is #2 feels confrontational and mean. The problem is that having a handful of "top priorities" will cripple your ability to decide where to place your focus when you sit down to work or plan your day. When I prioritize too many things, I produce mediocre results for all of them. When I align my efforts with a clear ranking, I ensure I do justice to the high priority items and know what I can let slide to make those priorities happen. Take a step back and note down the major commitments in your life, to yourself and others. Resist the urge to have Page 4 of 15 Usually we have dozens of items on our to do lists, whether they're written down or not. It's easy to get paralyzed by the sheer quantity and feel that getting everything done is an insurmountable challenge. Picking one thing prevents this paralysis and ensures that at a minimum, we make progress on our highest priority. Generally, I start each work day by putting stars next to two or at most three items and then making a firm commitment to the most important one. Three seems to be a kind of magic number, beyond which attention becomes too diffuse and paralysis sets in. In sum: 1.  Decide what matters most 2.  Create a strict ranking of all the projects in your life (you may need to repeat this periodically) 3.  Choose your top three items and make a firm commitment to just ONE of them Let me know how it goes! Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Week #3 | Plan by task, not by time This week's productivity tip is a bit of a personal vendetta, a holdover from my days of sitting in an office. Sometimes we can forget that the "work day" concept was not handed down from on high. Yet it's such a part of our society that we have a firm, predefined notion of how much time we should spend working every day. We've attached a lot of importance to this concept, evidenced by the guilt we feel if we are late to the office, the evil looks colleagues give if we leave early, and the way our work culture still hasn't accepted the midday nap as a healthy practice despite the abundant evidence in its favor. Here's the thing: The value is in what we produce. Isaac Newton's laws of physics would have had the same value whether he spent five minutes or five decades producing them. If we shift to thinking in terms of the tasks we want to accomplish (ideally just two or three), we actually have an incentive to work efficiently. When I knock out my top 3 items faster than expected, everything else feels like icing on the cake. While I could celebrate my expediency by stopping early, I almost always feel pumped up to keep going. I review my task list again, add 1-2 new stars (keeping my priorities in mind!) and plow ahead. Of course, this technique is only effective if coupled with blocks of time that are long enough to work until an entire task is done. Give it a spin -- start planning by task. Strive for task completion, not hours of work done. It's time we shake off the crazy notion that the value we're creating has anything to do with how many hours we sit and stare at a screen. If we keep thinking in terms of how much time we spend working, we'll keep finding ways to fill up that time. And when the goal is simply to spend umpteen hours working, one way is as good as another -- there's no good measure of how well that time was spent. Page 5 of 15 Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Week #4 | Create environmental cues The fourth productivity technique is about changing your environment. Environment is powerful. Walk into a movie theatre and you relax. See a police officer pull up behind you and bam! -- anxiety. We're conditioned to respond to our environmental cues, and we can use this to our advantage. The first piece of the technique is to avoid using play and sleep spaces as work spaces. All the memories, energies, and habits associated with those spaces are counterproductive, and besides, we don't want to contaminate those positive spaces, making it harder to have fun in the family room or fall asleep in the bedroom. Second, create a new, separate productivity environment. How quiet or noisy is your ideal working space? What kind of seating, table and lighting does it have? What kind of music is the best for blocking out distracting noise and thoughts? Create that place. only using it when you are feeling a bit more focused and ready to work. At first, you will have to bring all of the productive energy with you, but over time the space itself will actually begin to give back, by getting you in a more focused mood even when you're feeling less than your best. If you are going to spend long stretches of time in the same location, you'll definitely wind up taking breaks to eat, make phone calls or just procrastinate. To avoid mixed mental signals, try to find a separate space to do these activities, even if it's sitting on the other side of the desk. What do you think of the first four techniques? Have you tried any? Do they work for you? Hit reply and let me know! Onwards to awesome productivity! Initially, your work space won't have the same "productive energy" that you'll create over time. So to make sure that you respect the sanctity of this new work space, consider Page 6 of 15 Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Week #5 | Capture 100% One of the most distracting phenomena is continually reremembering something you have to do. The way our minds work, this happens even with totally mundane responsibilities like taking out the trash. The idea here is to take stuff out of the brain and put it in a reliable system that we can access when we're ready to take action. Credit for this technique goes to productivity expert David Allen and his book, Getting Things Done. There's only one way to get free of this affliction: If you keep absolutely everything written down somewhere - in as few places as possible - your brain knows it doesn't need to keep reminding you. In sum: Capture and consolidate, 100% of the time. Your brain will thank you. To implement this system, you'll have to keep a list handy and add to it every time you think of something new. If you get lazy even 5 percent of the time, your brain will know that your list can't be trusted, and your mind will revert to its current state, sending you distracting reminders at the most inopportune moments. P.S. What do you think of the first four techniques? Have you tried any? Do they work for you? Email me (taylor@21switchbacks.com) and let me know! To ensure I never lose anything, I make reminders via email and Evernote, and on notepads by my bed and in my briefcase. I consolidate these items as soon as possible. I keep just one master list, using Asana. (Note: Never schedule tasks in the calendar. A calendar should be used only for time-specific, time-sensitive actions and events. Otherwise your brain will learn to ignore your calendar; maybe that's what it does now.) Page 7 of 15 Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Week #6 | Blitzkrieg Facebook and email When it comes to productivity, email and Facebook are basically the devil. I've devised a few "rules of engagement" that you can apply. I tried to overpower them. I applied techniques from Tim Ferriss' remarkable first book, 4-Hour Workweek. I failed. I did a 30-day challenge to purge my Facebook addiction. At the end I decided the benefits were greater than the costs. On Facebook, avoid scrolling down the NewsFeed. Notifications are at the top of the screen, which means you can review and respond to them without scrolling. Let's say that, like me, you want to reap the benefits of email and Facebook, but don't want to let them rule you. To do this, you need to put stiff boundaries around how and when you use them. I recommend doing one daily blitz to clean out your email inbox and review Facebook notifications. Ideally, this is a time-bound exercise. The challenge is that email and Facebook are dangerous territory, with potential landmines everywhere distractions that can suck you right in. To avoid these landmines, try approaching email and Facebook as if you're an agent going behind enemy lines. Get in, complete the mission, and get out as quickly as possible. (The email game is a great way to speed things up.) Page 8 of 15 On email, the key is to take action on absolutely every single message. Any email that can be resolved in two minutes or less should be handled immediately - never "decide later". Any message that involves more than two minutes of work should be filed (I use a "Projects" label in Gmail), and added to your task list, to be prioritized and addressed accordingly. I also auto-filter and archive newsletters and blogs with a "Reading" label, so they never reach my inbox. I can peruse later, on the train or before bed. Give it a shot: Check once, shame-free. Check twice, shame on me. Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Week #7 | Take REAL breaks After two hours of sitting, my brain starts to get as stiff as my body, and my productivity starts to collapse. How about you? Sitting doesn't seem to jive with human nature, and has even been shown to have horrible health effects. Want proof? Check this out: http://www.medicalbillingandcoding.org/sitting-kills/ In addition, taking a break in front of the computer does nothing to reinvigorate you physically, which means you'll run out of steam much sooner. On top of that, if you work in an office, you've got politics to manage, which means you want to avoid getting caught being unproductive. Stretching, yoga, chi gung, tai chi or a few laps around the office might look funny but won't undermine your image. That's it: take regular, high quality breaks. One way to mitigate the damage is to get daily exercise which I'll come to later - but with computers being so integral to our productivity, eliminating sitting entirely isn't very practical. Instead, make sure to take regular breaks - around 10-15 minutes break for every 90 minutes working - to walk around and stretch. P.S. If you've got a home office or some flexibility at work, check out these neat ways to retrofit your work environment. Copy and paste this link: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2012/03/12/ reinventing-the-office-how-to-lose-weight-and-increaseproductivity-at-work/ Not all breaks are created equal. Phone calls, meetings, and appointments ruin the flow of higher-order thinking and productivity that takes so long to ignite. Email, Facebook and even text message chats can seem harmless ("I'll just do it for 2 minutes") but are full of juicy, distracting nuggets that can turn into all-consuming black holes. Page 9 of 15 Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Week #8 | Find your optimal schedule During the five months I spent honing my productivity techniques, probably the biggest experiment was finding the optimal schedule - deciding which activities should happen when. If you're like me, every day will typically include some combination of: you repeat the routine, the more natural it becomes including the productive time. If you're curious, you can check out my optimized schedule at the end of this message. Optimal doesn't mean easy. Once you identify your optimal, you'll have to fight for it. I want you to fight, OK? •  Rest and rejuvenation (sleeping, naps, meditation) •  Fueling (meals, snacks, hydration) •  Administrative tasks (errands, chores, filing) •  External communications (emails, calls, meetings) •  Productive creation (where the really important work happens) •  Delivery or performance (e.g. teacher teaching, coach coaching, singer singing) •  Exercise and social time, ideally Since you know that each of these has to go somewhere, you may as well figure out how to piece them together in the way that is optimal for you. What isn't optimal is constantly moving things around. If you have no routine, you're expending precious willpower and attention deciding what to do when. With a routine, you always know what to do next, so you can save your mental resources for the most valuable work. The more Page 10 of 15 Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Week #9 | Create a productivity inventory Tip 9 is really awesome. Are you ready? When you're trying to be productive, every factor is either helpful or distracting. Your goal is to identify the essentials and eliminate everything else. The obvious essentials are the productivity tools themselves - things like your laptop, headphones, phone, task list and journal. The productivity inventory was a revolution for me. Because I know exactly what I need before I head to work, I can get ready quickly and automatically. When I arrive, I know where each item goes on the table, and I don't have one single extraneous item to distract me. I seamlessly transition into doing work, and have lots of food, caffeine and water to keep me going. What's in your productivity inventory? Make a list and start a new ritual today. You also need provisions - food, water, money, and a nearby bathroom - which prevent unnecessary interruptions. Dehydration, hunger or a full bladder are terrible reasons to break up a good productivity party. If wearing a special hat helps you get productive, then include that in your inventory, but you need to be ruthlessly minimalistic here - everything you keep needs to be justified. Once your inventory is identified, you can make it part of your productivity ritual, which means it's more automatic and uses less mental energy each time you do it. Page 11 of 15 Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Week #10 | Plan your work around your energy Picture this procrastination scenario: you arrive to your workplace with the whole day ahead of you, ready to knock out that major project. Now imagine another moment, two hours later, when you realize you still have not started. You knew your priority. You allocated plenty of time. You had everything you needed to be productive. And yet you just wasted two hours doing something else. An email rabbit hole. A request for help from a colleague. An unexpected phone call. It's not that these aren't worth your time. At some point in the day (or the week, or the month), they may well be your top priority. The problem is that you poured some of your best energy into these projects. As a result, you might not have enough time or creative energy left to do the great work you really wanted to put into the project. So you put it off some more, or simply settle for less than your best. The goal is to schedule your most challenging, high priority work during your peak energy hours and days. Likewise, easier, lower priority work can be done when you are more tired. Several months into my own experimentation, I discovered that I was frequently using peak energy hours for phone calls. While the calls were important, I didn't need the same focus for a call as I did to write. I've since started doing phone calls in the evening. This strategy can be applied on a larger scale as well. Consider carving out an entire day (or longer) to take on a big project. Relegate the less intense tasks, and especially the totally mindless ones, to the times when your energy is low. Take a look at the week ahead: How could you better optimize your energy? To avoid this scenario, ask yourself: When during each day and week do I have the best energy? When do I have lower energy? Page 12 of 15 Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Week #11 | Work out After herniating a disc in my back, I made a promise to myself that I would exercise first thing every day. Even though my back is now stronger than ever, I've kept the morning exercise regimen. The longer my experiment has gone on, the more sensitive I became to the effects of exercise. If I skip my morning exercise to get a few extra working hours, I will inevitably feel more irritable, tight and restless. Not only do I feel worse throughout the day, but my work also suffers. But there's an even simpler reason to work out in the morning: sometimes shit happens. Your day doesn't always go the way you expect it to. Or you're just too darn tired. The longer you wait to get your exercise, the greater the risk that it won't happen. Feel happier and more confident, look better, reduce illness and injury, live longer, and be more like Richard Branson - enough said. Heave ho! Apparently I'm in good company with this strategy. Richard Branson, when asked for his secret to productivity, famously quipped, "Work out." A 2009 study also supports the idea that exercising in the morning is best, showing that the positive mood effects of exercise last for around 12 hours. Page 13 of 15 Source: http://news.health.com/2009/06/01/post-exerciseglow-may-last-12-hours/ Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Week #12 | Meditate My 12th, final and favorite focus technique is meditation. to beginners, while the latter is more immersive. Our minds are always up to some kind of shenanigans, sending us in a thousand directions - what we feel like eating for dinner, how stylish that girl's shoes are, how many people have Liked that clever Facebook post we made six minutes ago. But you don't need formal training in order to meditate. The core of meditation practice includes these four instructions: 1.  Find a comfortable seated position, with your hips above your knees. Keep your back tall and straight, and relax your chest. Rest your hands lightly on your thighs. 2.  Close your eyes or rest your gaze on a focal point ~6 feet in front of you. 3.  Breathe naturally, keeping your attention on your breath as it comes in and out. 4.  Each time you notice that your attention has wandered from your breath to a thought, bring your attention back to your breath. Resist the temptation to chase the thought any further. Do not get down on yourself for having the thought. Do not judge your meditation as good or bad. Just return to your breath. Start with just 3 minutes and gradually increase as suits you. Several free apps allow you to set a timer with a start and end gong. Generally speaking, our "mind issues" are of two sorts: •  We're oblivious: We are having thoughts, and we get so caught up in them that we aren't even aware we're having them. In its more advanced stages we call this "daydreaming," but actually this is happening all the time. •  We're puppets: We react subconsciously to our thoughts, getting angry, frustrated, depressed, etc. Because we're oblivious, we are powerless to change our response to something better. Meditation is the ultimate mind-training technique. Over time, obliviousness gives way to awareness - we start to notice our thoughts. Then, as our awareness grows, we have enough consciousness about our tendencies that we can start to choose different reactions. We actually learn to resist the negative responses, let them pass, laugh at them, or replace them with something better. I'm no expert, but I've done meditation training in the Shambhala and Vipassana styles, both 100% secular and available worldwide. In my opinion, the former is better suited Page 14 of 15 Don't let the spiritual connotation deter you. Meditation is no voodoo - it's 100 percent practical and it might be the most effective procrastination remedy of all, with a ton of research to support its miraculous benefits. See here: http:// www.naturalnews.com/030442_meditation_happiness.html With meditation, we learn to use our minds as the incredible tool they can be. Give it a try! Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved
    • Thank You & Parting Thoughts I want to leave you with a parting thought: Even after applying every Jedi mind trick there is, we're still going to procrastinate. We're human. If 98% of all humans do it, there is no point feeling bad about it. If we create all of the other conditions necessary to have a productive day, who cares if we spent an hour Facebook stalking? Let it go. Personal development guru Tim Ferriss puts his eloquent spin on "letting procrastination happen" in a video interview here: http://zenhabits.net/almost-anything/ I hope these techniques have been useful for you. Either way, drop me a note and let me know your feedback! I'm always looking to make these better! P.S. If you did like something you saw here, I hope you’ll consider returning the favor in a small way. What you can do is simply help me get the word out and build the 21 Switchbacks community: 1.  Share this document with a friend 2.  Sign up for email updates: www.21switchbacks.com/aweber 3.  Like me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/21Switchbacks 4.  Tweet me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TaylorJacobson And that’s it! Thank you. Page 15 of 15 Copyright © 2013 21Switchbacks.com | All Rights Reserved