“Super” Productivity = Not To-Do List

Productivity = To-Do List
“Super” Productivity = Not To-Do List
Yes. It is important to have a clear, long “Not To-Do List” saves hell lot of time which you can use for productive tasks. Here is simple list inspired by Four Hour Work Week Blog by Tim Ferris.

Increase Your Productivity by Not To-Do List

Increase Your Productivity by Not To-Do List

Lot more great ideas by blog readers are available in comments section of this blog post – http://fourhourworkweek.com/2007/08/16/the-not-to-do-list-9-habits-to-stop-now/

5 Simple Tips to Time Management Mastery

Productivity is digital life’s new mantra! Productivity is measured by our ability to manage the time. Time management skills is a must to compete with others, even our own yesterday. Better time management leads

i) greater success ratio in career & personal life

ii) allows one to achieve more

iii) increase efficiency & effectiveness of an activity

Current researches relates every particle in the universe to ‘Time’ in one or the other way. Either approachability, rotation, size, etc are compared in terms of time. So humans are no exception for this.

Our mind build time sense by nature. Our mind sets time for each activity & keeps on calculating lapsed time, remaining time, over time, in different angles based on critical nature of the task. Sense of urgency, increases heart rate, makes us think faster than light, make us work faster than usual, requires more energy and resources.

There is a famous saying “World is like a race ground & all are running in that”. One who completes faster gets appreciation, praise, monetary benefits. The one runs slow gets blame, scold, no monetary benefits. Race is by nature & no one can avoid. You cannot stop it or take rest. You have to run or at least walk to beat someone who walks slower than you, otherwise it is not possible for you to survive. Life is counted as number of years, days, hours, minutes you lived. Unless you develop time sense in you, it is very difficult to cope up with expectations.

Practice makes a man perfect – this statement is 100% true for time management. Time management requires practice in every aspect. So, how do I practice? Start in small steps.

5 Tips to better  Time  Management.png

1. Wake up early – Increase your daily active life at least 10 – 15 mins by waking up earlier than the time you wake up daily. This step should not be at the cost of your sleep quality, so go early to bed to adjust the overall sleep duration

2. Treat all days same way – Don’t be lenient on holidays. Wake up same time on Sunday too. This makes more room for your personal activities

3. Follow a routine – Set time goals, observe & take corrective actions for future. Planning ahead and following routine gives a more control over the activities & predictable outcome.

4. Prioritize acitivites – Yes! Prioritize as much as possible. Force your prioritizing to broader level. Don’t just categorize all of them using 3 scale (1,2,3). Have unique level for each of them. If you have 20 activities in hand, have 20 priority levels. This gives unambiguous execution order. But do remember #3, and modify the priority levels based on current situations.

5. Have good mental health – All boils down to our mind. Uncluttering mind allows proper execution of our plans. Do your best to keep up the mental health in good shape. Everyday perform activity that gives you happiness at least for 10 minutes like talking to your parents, spouse, watching comedy videos, reading books that you felt close to your heart, washing your car, cleaning home, playing with your kids or pets.

3 Little Secrets of Exceeding Expectations

This article explains about factors that lead to exceeding expectation in your activities (either personal or professional). This puts your life in a traffic free express way! After understanding the 3 little secrets for exceeding expectation & once you started implementing them then no one can stop your growth by any means!

cloud_catching.jpgWhatever be your level in your organization, every time when you hear the word “Exceed expectations” from your manager, do you think it is a kind of cloud catching exercise for you? This feeling will be there when you have confusion on what really needs to be done to exceed expectation.

Just by hearing the term “Exceeding Expectations”, you get the general meaning that “over and above what is expected”. Don’t go beyond this simplest & straight forward meaning. If you start thinking too much about the term, you end up in doing ‘tread mill’ i.e. running in the same place & not going anywhere.

First and foremost step for anyone to exceed the expectation is to know what is expected. Expectations changes from time to time based on performed activities & experience. Expectation level can go down or go up from time to time.

Expected behavior is the grey area which is mostly revealed only during performance review session. This makes the entire process of achieving exceed expectation harder.

When a manager sets expectations it is based on team member’s experience, skill and knowledge in overall work or in a particular task.

When manager decides goals, he documents and communicates only the expected outcome. The expected behavior is not explicitly discussed with team member. During performance review discussions, tug of war happens over the expected behavior as it is mostly subjective in nature.

Manager & team member need to analyze alignment of expectations with the high-level project goals.

Note: Though references in the below text talks about interactions between a team member and a manager, the term ‘expectation’ is applicable to all & not specific to one particular activity, hence you can apply these ideas to any activity. Also, degree of individuals’ skill varies from one person to another & this text doesn’t talk about how they can improve these skills as it is in an individual’s hand.

Exceeding Expectations.png

Three main factors that decides ‘exceeding expectations’ for an employee (either it is a team member or manager) are – Proactive, Effective, Creating visibility. All three are interlinked as one helps the other and they share certain common elements.

Being proactive is the basic behavior expected on every assigned activity. In many ways you can exhibit this factor –

a) From childhood, we are trained in such a way that we simply wait for instructions. This is real enemy for exceeding expectation. Even you know how to do, if you wait for your manager to tell then it will not bring you up above the expectation level. You need to start performing activities without prompting or at least you can inform your manager that you are doing it.

b) You need to start assuming responsibility in the absence of someone (either manager or peer)

c) As Einstein said “one cannot solve the problems at the same level at which it was created”. You always need to understand the big picture which helps in identifying issues before hand.

d) You need to avoid mistakes either by following existing standards/processes set in the project or by creating your own standards/processes. This gives an excellent way to project you as a disciplined person.

e) Whenever you encounter with a problem, you should not stop at that point and stare at your manager with blank face. You need to move from problem oriented mindset to solution oriented mindset, in that way you can identify & provide possible solutions or workarounds for the situation.

Effectiveness is another important factor that makes you to exceed the set expectations. You can bring effectiveness mainly through practice & disciplined approaches. Here are few areas where effectiveness gives more weightage to expectations

a) In different decision-making scenarios – it can be a decision-making for general solution approach or a strategic decision-making or in an ambiguous/pressure situation. Usually work will be smooth and we encounter ambiguous or pressure situations once in a while, but behaviors shown in those situations has long-lasting effect in the organization history.

b) Effectiveness in activity management has greater value in deciding where you stand in the expectation scale. Following a procedural way in estimating time required, balancing personal & professional life, planning and organizing activities will bring you up in the scale.

c) Communication is integral part of whole expectation cycle from setting it till fulfillment. Effective communication happens when you understand things to be done in one (or few) round of explanation.

d) Others will look at you if you start implementing action items (sometimes it is corrective actions too) as many lacks the skill of following up the action items. In this way you can make yourself stand out in the crowd.

e) Self awareness – Though I mentioned it as last point, but this is having equal credit in securing high score in expectation levels. The one who understood his strengths and weaknesses can perform activities effectively. You help others in your strong areas & get help from others in the weak areas. In this way, you will complete the job within given timelines.

Creating visibility is the third factor for exceeding expectation.

a) Visibility creation is in your hands & it is not in the size of activity that you are performing. You can make everyone look at you the way you do it.

b) You can gain confidence of your higher officials by showcasing goodness in the work you performed & by the way you can also grab new opportunities with that.

c) Again, effective communication decides the level of visibility that you are creating. You need to use every given opportunity as visibility creation test & use your full potential in doing that.

d) Whenever you are included in a discussion or in performing an activity, everyone around you needs to feel value addition you make to that discussion/activity.

e) Having a relationship is not just enough; you need to have a positive relationship that enables you to influence people positively. With positive relationship, your acceptance will be widespread & people will help you without ego or grudge.

Not everything optional in life. Changes needs to be intentional

Are you planning to change something but thinking it is optional one? Think again. Change is never optional one – It is intentional.

Find a purpose to motivate the change – Any new habit development is a change to the existing routine. How will you inject a change in the routine (Say waking up early, going to gym, reading book)? All these are new habits that you may want to start. You need to be intentional about it. First and foremost you need to find a purpose that motivates you. It may be an external trigger – like alarming results in your last health checkup (or) internal trigger like your thought process. Whenever you think about the purpose, you should say ‘Yes. I have to do this by any means’.

Keep good company – You know useful change is hard & some of them need more moral support other than own will power. Though your intentions are good, distractions are everywhere. Never let someone poison your mind with negative thoughts that spoil your determination. Surround yourself with someone who encourages you & remind you on your goal.

Focus on end results, not on initial setbacks – Setbacks at start is common in any change. If you start seeing them under lens, then it will derail the whole change activity. Focus & refocus on end results that you want to achieve everytime you come across a small setback. This is vital in keeping it going.



If You Read One Article About “Threes” Read this One

Our brain has a lot of magic in it. Till now, science revealed only part of it’s function & everyday new research findings are published. One of the study says – Our brain receives million bits of information in a second but it can process only 50 bits in a second. All received information doesn’t need to be externally fed one – it can be retrieved information from stored.

Having said that, information overload will in turn causes counter productive effect in the brain. Instead of increasing productivity, it causes distraction, results in confusion, less or no progress & causes derailment.three.png

I use the technique of ‘Threes’. It is simple technique to restrict yourself not to go beyond 3 items at any given point.

  1. I don’t keep more than 3 items in WIP status in my To-do list. If it is more, it is going to be a distraction, creates unnecessary pressure & results in low progress.
  2. Even an article suggest 15 items, it is not possible for us to take action on more than 3 items, so I choose only top 3 items to review.
  3. In any book that I read, I note 3 top take away as it is easy to remember them when I think about the book.
  4. When preparing PPT, don’t use more than 3 points in a slide

Technique of Three de-clutters mind & simplifies life. Try it, you can see a notable change.

This one procrastination tip will make you highly productive

You heard lot of tips about procrastination & how to get rid of it. Procrastination is not always bad. It produces good effects if it is used appropriately.

Distractions are one of the major productivity killer. Distraction can be interruption by someone, phone, mail, notifications from apps, mental, physical, etc. Most of the time, distractions are non-urgent & unimportant in nature.


Say, You are in middle of some important activity & you are hearing notification sound from your phone’s Facebook messenger App. This is a typical distraction you can see every few minutes. You can simply say (either loudly or in mind) “Nope. I will look at it later” & put your procrastination in right use. Use these phrases as often to your distraction situations as possible to keep you continue the productive work.

“I will meet you later”

“I can check these mails later”

“I can talk to him later”

I keep simple meaning to Procrastination – postponing something which needs to be done. Many distractions disguise itself as ‘Urgent’ or ‘Important’ or both. The decision is left with us. Just ask one simple question “How about doing this later?” If you get a ‘Yeah’ answer from your mind, then it is not a thing to do now. Go ahead and procrastinate such non-urgent & unimportant activities.

Image Credit: flickr@Vic

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