Power.ME Blog

Productivity News and Advice

You have projects that are all-consuming—they are both important and complicated. You spend time and energy on them for months, thinking about little else. And then, you finish. And it’s great. You have time to relax, catch up on tasks placed on your back burner, and . . . then what? What’s next?

In the post on productive transitions, we discussed how to make the transition between projects smooth so you can stay productive. But what if you don’t have a next project? If your project was big enough, you’ll probably complete it without another big project on the horizon. To select your next project, try using these techniques.

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The GTD productivity method helps you tackle the minutiae of the day. You can clear out your head, organize your tasks and projects, and maintain the structure easily.

But beyond the day-to-day organization, an important aspect of the GTD system is what David Allen calls the “bigger picture” review. A system that instructs you to keep your head down all the time, focused only on the tasks immediately in front of you, will probably fall apart: you won’t want to employ a system that doesn’t allow you to look up and look forward towards your long-term goals. You need a set of goals to look forward to. Without the drive to move forward and create that bigger picture for yourself, many of the day-to-day tasks you accomplish become banal, lack-luster.

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Productive meetings are crucial for successful businesses. They encourage creativity, collaboration, and communication. When meetings aren’t productive, they can bring the business down, causing distractions and derailing employees. It’s important to not only remember these tips for holding productive meetings, but to review them often.

Brevity speaks volumes

Tony Schwartz, author of Be Excellent at Anything, recommends we “schedule meetings for 45 minutes, rather than an hour or longer, so participants can stay focused, take time afterward to reflect on what’s been discussed, and recover before the next obligation.” Open-ended meetings cause problems in employee’s schedules—since they weren’t sure when they would be getting back to their desks, they have not made a plan or scheduled any appointments. Your meetings can certainly be shorter than 45 minutes, especially when the meeting agenda has fewer than five items of business on it.

Clearly define the purpose

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Breaks are an important element of your work day. To understand the reason why taking breaks at work is important, think about a scenario where you have to slam on your brakes in a car. This usually happens when your focus has drifted slightly from the road and from driving. Slamming on your breaks is like hitting a reset button—once you get going again, you have a renewed commitment to be aware of what is going on in front of you. Taking breaks during your work day can help you reclaim your focus on your project with increased attention.

However, it’s far too easy to take a break and then get lost in the fun of it all. How do you take small breaks without losing focus? You have to train your brain. There are many time management techniques you can try to keep your mini-breaks structured.

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It’s spring: the flowers are coming up, the sun is coming out, there is new life all around you. This season is traditionally a time of new beginnings—a chance to refresh your outlook and your behaviors. New Year’s has come and gone, and let’s face it, reviewing your goals and plans for life only once each year is simply not often enough. We need reminders, we need jump starts, we need the chance to review where we were, how far we’ve come, and what’s left to do to get us where we want to be.

The new beginnings people want at this time of year are usually more complex than the basic “I want to get more done each day” or “I want to get organized.” The perspective of these new goals and plans is more long-term, with life changes that are more far-reaching.

It’s great news if you’re feeling pretty good about several areas in your life. Be sure to praise yourself for your hard work and accomplishments. If you’re ready for a new challenge, focus on one of these areas to make goals and improvements in your life.

A New Healthy

Eating healthy foods is a sign that you want to take care of your body and you want to lead a long, energetic life. It’s no easy task, especially for those constantly on the go. Read the rest of this entry »

There is plenty of talk about what YOU need to do to boost your productivity, but there is also a lot to be said about the condition of your environment and its effect on your mental state and therefore your productivity. It’s important to take a look at the conditions around your workspace, know what works for you, and make adjustments as needed.

Physical environment

Your physical environment is easy to tweak for the most part—move a potted plant here, make sure you have enough elbow room, etc. Ask yourself, what do you need to be comfortable and successful in your workspace? Is your desk right for you? Do you keep it clean and organized so you aren’t in a cluttered state at all times? Figure out what is essential for you to function in your workspace and maintain that environment. You may need to write down your thoughts so you can be confident that when your environment is dragging you down, you know what to do to fix it. Evaluate categories including the ones below.

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The last part of the GTD workflow discussion is about the last two phases of workflow: reviewing and doing. Again, this is nothing new, but the information should serve as a reminder of why Getting Things Done works for so many people. Reviewing and doing complete the reason for GTD’s success. People can fully trust this productivity system because they have organized their thoughts and tasks in such a way that reviewing is natural and consistent, and they can take action and check things off of their actions lists.

David Allen, in his book Getting Things Done, tells us, “The purpose of this whole method of workflow management is not to let your brain become lax, but rather to enable it to move toward more elegant and productive activity. In order to earn that freedom, however, your brain must engage on some consistent basis with all your commitments and activities” (p. 181).

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The GTD productivity model is a clear model that anyone can implement. It may seem intimidating to jump all the way in to this system, but once you do, you’ll have a process that you can trust, freeing up your mind to actually complete tasks instead of just worrying about them.

Today, I’ll cover how you organize all of the “stuff” you’ve collected and processed using Getting Things Done. This step in the five phases of workflow is half of the reason why people can fully trust this productivity system and let their minds be free to focus on what is at hand; reviewing is the other half that keeps you engaged in your system and on top of your projects.

How to organize your stuff

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The Hunger Games movie comes out this weekend, and the hype is exploding. Such a popular story, the Hunger Games has also taught us some important lessons in productivity.

On Teamwork

Katniss plans to go it alone in the Arena, but as her relationships with both Peeta and Haymitch develop, she understands the benefits of teamwork. While your productivity is easier to monitor on your own, teamwork can increase your efficiency and decrease your stress levels.

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The GTD productivity model is a clear model that anyone can implement. It may seem intimidating to jump all the way in to this system, but once you do, you’ll have a process that you can trust, freeing up your mind to actually complete tasks instead of just worrying about them.

In several posts, I’ll go over the five phases of workflow, or the process of dealing with all of your “stuff” as David Allen calls it. Although this is nothing new, the information should serve as a reminder of why Getting Things Done works for so many people. Today, I’ll talk about collecting and processing your stuff.


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