My five best productivity hacks
The month of October is usually my most productive month. In this blog, I share my 5 productivity ‘epiphanies’.
It all happens in Thailand; the first week I organize a writing retreat to help entrepreneurs to write their books in one week and get some writing done myself. The second week I am at the DCBKK conference of successful location independent entrepreneurs in Bangkok. All this inspiration needs to be processed afterward and that’s why I (and about 30 others) join Chris Reynolds’ ‘Get Shit Done Live’ productivity sprint in Chiang Mai for the last 2 weeks of October.
1. Join an event
The first productivity hack may be an obvious one: joining an event where you work together with others provides structure, focus, and accountability. Both during the writing retreat and GSDL, I feel this massive increase in focus and productivity while being together with like-minded people.
2. Use time differences
The second one is very practical. If you are working on a project that needs stuff from a third party, get it done overnight on a platform like Fiverr.com or Upwork.com. I needed some icons for my website and small video edit. I sent out the instructions the night before and the next morning the results are in my mailbox, so I can continue the work I needed the items for. Expenses are often only $5-10. Make sure to give clear instructions. Sometimes I hire a few people for the same small test job so that the next time I know who delivers good work with the most effective communication.
3. Record it
If you are like me, the third thing will save you so much time and energy. If you explain something to somebody; record it.
- Right now I am hiring a few designers on Upwork to test who I want to give a website design improvement job to. They all want to have a call for more clarifications; meaning I will have to share the same story, answer the same questions to everyone of them. If I record a video (screencastomatic: free screen recording plus voice explanation) and send it to all of them, I only have to do the work once. Plus, they all get exactly the same input, which makes their output easier to compare.
Recording videos is also a good idea when you hire a new VA, or basically for onboarding anybody. A friend of mine hired a new manager and after explaining her entire business, instructing her and working with her for a few weeks, it turned out not to be a good fit and she had to find, hire and train a new manager. If she had recorded the onboarding of the first one, she would not have to go through the same instructions and explanations all over again. Plus, the person being hired, may want to go over the video again, to get the details and instructions they did not get the first time.
If you are a creative person, like me, there is another benefit to recording your ideas and instructions in a video. If you have an inspiration sprint, your mind works really fast and not always linear. If you have to explain to another person real time, you have to slow down your mind and that works counterproductive. If you record the video at the speed of your mind, the person carrying out the instructions may work with it in their own time. They can listen to it, pause, carry out the instructions, listen some more, pause again, rewind, ask you questions etc., all without interrupting your creative inspiration burst, because it has been recorded.
4. Helicopter view
The fourth insight came as a surprise to me because as a writer I am used to working with large amounts of text. When you’re writing a book, creating a website, writing a proposal, or dealing with lots of data in general, you probably struggle with the amount of content. Don’t forget to get your ‘helicopter view’. For a website, look at the URL, slogan, and menu items. They should be able to convey the main message already, just like the back cover of a book plus it’s your table of contents. Then each chapter and each page of your website should have a short introduction. If you put only those introductions together, they should already tell the highlights of your story. I was looking at my own website that way and noticed “hey, I repeat something here and miss a step here.” So take a look at only the menu items and the first paragraph of each main page of your website and see what message you get. Do the same for your book, proposal, or report: Only look at the table of contents and the first paragraph of each chapter. That should be your main story. This is a way to go through large amounts of content to make sure you got everything.
5. Free transcriptions
Send your recordings to otter.ai for free transcription. You get 600 mins of transcription free per month! That is what I did to create this blog post. I used the voice memo in my iPhone to record my sharing of my ‘productivity epiphanies’ with the GSD group, had it transcribed fast and free, and made some changes, so now I can share these productivity hacks with you!