7 Things Highly Productive People Do

Multi task

Ilya Pozin wrote this for Inc. Online a couple of years back; I read it again and I began to worry…I need to focus! With my new company in full swing and zero full time staff I thought I better re-learn to focus.

“We all probably don’t want to admit it but we love distractions. In fact, just like monkeys, you get a shot of dopamine every time something pulls you in another direction. Why do you think you check your email so much?”

Want to be more productive and get your focus back? There are no secret tricks here… do one thing at a time. Stop multitasking—it’s just another form of distraction.

Easier said than done, I know. I have been trained working for large firms that muliti-tasking was a skill and an asset.

Before Ilya wrote her story she sat down with Tony Wong, a project management blackbelt whose client list includes Toyota, Honda, and Disney, to name a few. He’s an expert in keeping people on task.

Here are his tips for staying productive:

1) Work backwards from goals to milestones to tasks.

Writing “launch company website” at the top of your to-do list is a sure way to make sure you never get it done. Break down the work into smaller and smaller chunks until you have specific tasks that can be accomplished in a few hours or less: Sketch a wireframe, outline an introduction for the homepage video, etc. That’s how you set goals and actually succeed in crossing them off your list.

2) Stop multi-tasking.

No, seriously—stop. Switching from task to task quickly does not work. In fact, changing tasks more than 10 times in a day makes you dumber than being stoned. When you’re stoned, your IQ drops by five points. When you multitask, it drops by an average of 10 points, 15 for men, five for women (yes, men are three times as bad at multitasking than women).

3) Be militant about eliminating distractions.

Lock your door, put a sign up, turn off your phone, texts, email, and instant messaging. In fact, if you know you may sneak a peek at your email, set it to offline mode, or even turn off your Internet connection. Go to a quiet area and focus on completing one task.

4) Schedule your email.

Pick two or three times during the day when you’re going to use your email. Checking your email constantly throughout the day creates a ton of noise and kills your productivity.

5) Use the phone.

Email isn’t meant for conversations. Don’t reply more than twice to an email. Pick up the phone instead. This goes for texting as well.

6) Work on your own agenda.

Don’t let something else set your day. Most people go right to their emails and start freaking out. You will end up at inbox-zero, but accomplish nothing. After you wake up, drink water so you rehydrate, eat a good breakfast to replenish your glucose, then set prioritized goals for the rest of your day.

7) Work in 60 to 90 minute intervals.

Your brain uses up more glucose than any other bodily activity. Typically you will have spent most of it after 60-90 minutes. (That’s why you feel so burned out after super long meetings.) So take a break: Get up, go for a walk, have a snack, do something completely different to recharge. And yes, that means you need an extra hour for breaks, not including lunch, so if you’re required to get eight hours of work done each day, plan to be there for 9.5-10 hours.

Well now if I can follow these tips maybe I can overcome that fact that I have zero staff and get something extraordinary done.

Romance is Dead

Women all say the same thing, they totally dislike or worse yet fear the dating scene today.

They often state three main sources of concerns, the quality of the pool of guys available, the sheer energy they have to undertake to self promote, and the incredible amount of competition that they face.

Let’s begin by looking at the available men.

There seems to be several problems for single women today. First, they meet men who are already in relationships but who take off their wedding ring to appear available. Or, there are men who say that they are single but then secretly text their girl friend or girl friends saying that they are still out with the guys and will be out late…”players” as Match women call them.
Second, many complain about meeting men who only want sex, some of these men pretend to want a relationship, but ultimately it’s a ploy to get more sex. I can hear my friends grumbling under their breath, “Why the heck are you revealing this fact?”

In general, there seems to be a perception that there are only a few good men out there left. To win these few good men, they have to improve themselves and compete with other women who are trying to get the same guy. And, because there are only a few good ones out there (at least in their eyes) they don’t want to be overly demanding and now in many cases seem to be openly forward.

When questioned about what they would ask for if they could, most women mention romance. Do they really mean that?

I believe that they want to feel that they are the center of the guy’s world, that we can’t help but fall in love with them, and that it is them and only them that we want. Basically they want the guys to be crystal clear about love without sending some cryptic text that is laden with ambiguity.

Some do mention sex, but usually it follows from falling in love. I think these women want to live the plot of any romantic comedy movie or romance novel….I am sure you have a few favorites.

When you ask a woman whether they think of themselves as romantic, the answer most likely is no. So does that mean women want the men to be romantic, but aren’t themselves?

They tend to believe that men really don’t care if they are romantic, so why bother?

The second issue is one centered on the women themselves. Many feel exhausted from all the various activities they undertake to look good and to make themselves seem as desirable as possible. In my field of marketing this is called self promotion because the woman or “Brand X” is trying to promote herself as being the best option on the market.

Listening to women who are active daters they often reveal the effort that is involved simply in terms of improving physical appearance. Of course there is the financial cost of that undertaking like gym memberships, clothing, salon visits, teeth whitening, cosmetics and wonder creams are not cheap.

Many women also feel unsure how to ‘be’ when dating – what personality characteristics should they display and hide?Is it ok to have a loud laugh or not? There is even a Seinfeld episode about this one.

Is it ok to be intelligent, or does playing dumb improve one’s chances? Should they be honest about their profession if it’s one that is high in status it could signal that they are too challenging?

Together, trying to put the best foot forward is not an easy undertaking if you are making the effort to find a good mate, especially if you are particularly self-conscious or have been away from the dating scene in some cases for a whole generation.
The third issue is competing with other women for a good mate. This is where the issue of romance resurfaces. Yes, by using good clothes and a winning personality one is competing against potential rivals for the seemingly minuscule pool of men. However, that pales in comparison to the competition women are in when it comes to sex.

One of the most significant issues that I hear these days is how we men are not really displaying any romance and therefore women are feeling increasingly pressured to have sex earlier in the relationship.

I think perhaps the women don’t necessarily want to have sex, they just don’t want to be single again or they want to have a little more time to see if he’s a keeper. And these days, it seems that the ‘sex’ date is number two or three – a far cry from the courting days when I was in high school…only fast girls from the wrong side of the tracks had sex.

Many women must try to determine what potential rivals are doing so that they can be unique, but not too unique as to become freakish. Sugar and spice, and everything nice, that’s what girls are made of? I think not.

What does this all mean? Well, basically, in today’s dating scene, romance has been pushed to the side. Women tend not to display it, and they tell me it’s because the men they are meeting don’t care about romance at all. Men aren’t displaying it because women don’t expect romance from them.

My advise to men is to use romance (as so long as it’s not paired with a tan line from where your wedding ring should be) because you might seem like a very good catch, and you’ll stand out as being different, but in a good way.

If romance is dead, what comes next? I don’t even pretend to know, but it looks like the routine is to have sex and then hope that there is some emotional connection afterwards. Our society has streamlined everything imaginable (even social relationships are now efficient thanks to match.com) there’s just no room left for romance.