Tag Archives: time

11 Tips for How to Be Productive Right Now

keepcalmgsd

You may be mindlessly searching the internet, looking for ways to be productive, asking yourself, “what is something productive i can do right now?” You might have a huge list of things that need to be taken care of but you are overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated, and annoyed at your insane level of procrastination  But that will get you nowhere. You can read all the blogs on the internet about productivity and you won’t learn about how to be productive right now without actually GSD.

The hardest part of being productive is getting started. I love the acronym GSD because it’s a quick reminder to “Get Shit Done.” This is based off the popular and less vulgar term GTD which stands for “Getting Things Done”, a term from time management guru David Allen (and from the book of the same name).

The battle for focus is fierce, but you can GSD right now.

  1. GSD right in the morning. Wake up, get dressed and all that, and then go straight to work. Work first, play later.
  2. Do your worst, most dreaded task first. Get it done first, and it will feel like pushing a huge boulder down a mountain.
  3. Unless your work requires it, disable your internet connection and work offline.
  4. Or move entirely away from the computer.
  5. Blast your favorite music (epic movie soundtracks work great for monumental tasks) and GSD.
  6. Work for 5 minutes. Just five fucking minutes, dude. If you want, take a break after. But most likely you will have gotten the hardest part over with (starting) and will continue easily.
  7. I swear by Evernote — if you are distracted by a link, thought, image, video, etc. just copy and paste in an Evernote page and it saves instantly. Go back to it later.
  8. I make to-do lists on Evernote, too.
  9. Promise yourself something to look forward to (like watching that funny video) after you finish say an hour of that project. It’s good to take breaks. Just get back to work right after.
  10. Sometimes it’s easier to just work for the 2-3 hours full speed, no breaks. Then reward yourself with a sweet lunch or a smoke, whatever tips your hat. Think of this tip as “college finals” mode and you’ll get it.
  11. If you have a huge project ahead of you and you are distracting yourself from starting it because it’s so damn hard to start, spend time just chunking it down: take the boulder and turn it into rocks, and then pebbles. Then take that first step, that first pebble and start it.

What productive things did you just do, or are about to do after reading this article? Share any of your GSD tips!

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Focus: 5 Things to Do Right Now For a More Productive Life

Focus on SightThere’s a lot of keys to success, and tons of different life paths, but you must have this in order to reach the door.

F O C U S.

What is a life without focus? It’s staring at the bottom of a bottle every night in a dive bar. It’s avoiding the mirror when you wake up so you don’t see the fat accumulating on your belly. It’s a pile of unpaid bills, half of them notices from the college you earned the degree from — the one collecting dust in a bent folder somewhere in your bookcase. It’s like driving without watching where you are going, kind of like texting and driving. Sure, you peek up here and there, just to make sure you’re still on the road. But someday, you’re going to crash. Hard.

Does it feel like a dream? Where does the time go? You have no idea, because you’re not keeping track. You’re not caring.

Suddenly, you wake up and you’re 25, or 30, or 40, and you must pull off that pile of regrets like you pull off your comforter in the morning, and get going with your life.

So how does one find focus in a blurry life? Start doing these things, and you’ll start seeing a more productive life.

1. Wake up 20 minutes earlier. It is true, the early bird gets the worm. But you don’t need to wake up at 5am to reap the benefits of a more productive, relaxed morning. Start at just 20 minutes earlier — enough time to read the newspaper, get a quick at-home workout in (just walk around the block!), eat an actual (balanced) breakfast, or ponder your life’s current path.

2. Write one page a day. It can be a Word document on your computer, an Evernote page, or an actual page in a notebook — just start your day by writing about anything that comes to mind. What is on your mind? What bothers you, upsets you? What are you thinking of doing today – this week – this month? End the page by writing down at least 2 productive things you will do today that is in line with your goals. Don’t have goals? We’ll fix that.

3. Determine your goals. Take a good chunk of time to really think about your life for a minute. Dig deeper until you find an aspect of your life that really depresses you or makes you angry. Is it your weight? Your lack of a job? Not having insurance or a reliable car? Horrible debt lingering over your head? Having poor friends or no one to talk to — or being single? Once you find something that sparks emotion, determine what would change that reaction to happiness and content about your life.

Do this: I would feel happier if I __________…

4. Stop doing something. Everyone has a bad habit, most of us have more than one vice. One way to have better focus is to stop poisoning your body with them. Is is smoking? Vodka? Or something else? Make the decision to quit, and you’ll feel a lot better — maybe not immediately (quitting drugs is difficult and can result in feeling withdrawal symptoms, even physical discomfort or sickness), but overall you will live longer and have something to strive for daily: not using/drinking.

Note: it does not have to be a drug/alcohol addiction. It can be anything big or small that you wish you would stop doing because it harms your body, bank account, friends/family, or life in some way. Do you have a horrible habit of reckless thrift shopping? Collecting new purses? Ignoring friend’s phone calls? Taking anger out on your wife/husband?

5. Remind yourself daily. A habit that is not watched quickly dies, so find ways to remind yourself of your new goals. Tell your significant other to wake up earlier with you, and make breakfast together. Call a friend and go for a morning gym session. Make an appointment to see a doctor about ways to quit smoking. Set your alarm clock across the room so you have to get up. Post photos of whatever inspires you on your mirror, on your fridge, in your car. Find resources online to help you. Check back weekly, and then monthly, to see your progress.

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford

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Paying Your Bills on Time — Every Time!

Step One: What’s the Damage?

This is a lot easier with a budget (and if you don’t have one, why not make one now?), but go ahead and compile all of your bills as they come in. You can just stash each bill statement in a folder or in an area on a desk, or written out on a piece of paper, or on your computer. If you have a good idea of what the bill will be each month, you don’t even have to wait until you get your statements to do this step. If you’re splitting with roommates or a significant other, go ahead and write down the calculations for each person (Divide the total amount due by the number of people that are paying the bill equally, eg: 1000/4.)

Step Two: What’s Left?
Now that we know how much you owe each month, divide that by 4 to get how much your bills will cost each week.That’s how much you’ll put away each week to pay your bills. Discouraged? Depending on how much money you make each week, that’s how much you’ll have left over to pay for other variables (such as the debt repayments, excess groceries, gifts, hair cuts, etc.) plus savings. So if you make 200 per week, you’ll only have 40 left over for that. 300, you’ll have 140 left over.

Step Three: It’s Pay (everyone else) day!

Now every payday, immediately take your check or cash (after depositing) and use that money to pay your bills or put aside immediately in preparation to pay your bills. Prewrite your checks or schedule online payments so you don’t forget to pay them – and remember, don’t touch that money! One technique I use is the following:

  • Money set aside for bill payments go in checking account, which is used to pay bills online immediately on payday.
  • Money left over for other uses is kept in cash. Gas and grocery money can also go in an envelope so you know how much money to spend on gas or groceries for the week.
  • Any extra money goes over to my savings account. Try to save at minimum 10% of what you earn for emergencies.
Another Technique
Another method to paying your bills is to go on a purely weekly basis instead.
  • Every payday, check out what bills you have to pay for the week ahead. Let’s imagine you got paid $300 and your electric bill is coming up on Wednesday.
  • Immediately write a check or schedule the payment online to pay that bill.
  • Immediately minus that amount from your checkbook or other method of keeping track of how much money you have in your account, or keep the rest as cash.
  • Next payday, see what bill is coming up and repeat the process.
  • For large payments, such as mortgage or rent bills, you should use the weekly method by dividing the payment by 4 and keeping that amount saved where you won’t be tempted to spend it until the payment is due.
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How to Really Get Things Done

To Do List for 2009Your to-do list is a mile long, yet you’re just lazily surfing Facebook and thinking about how you spent too much money last night at the bar. Bill stubs and half-read books litter the desk, and you just ordered out Domino’s — Again. You’re trying to figure out what it is that you needed to do right now, but you misplaced the napkin you wrote it on. Something needs to change here, and you know it. You need to start really getting things done.

It just so happens there is a great organizational method called “Get Things Done,” or GTD for short. GTD is a simplified system for people who hate organizational systems and complex, color coded planners, and there are many levels so you can be only as organized as you want to be. Inspired hugely by Study Hacks, here is the down ‘n’ dirty version of how to git ‘er done.

Materials needed:

  • small pocket or purse sized notebook with pen handy
  • a pocket planner or monthly calendar
  • a large calendar to hang in your room or dorm
  • optional: weekly and/or daily calendar (depending on how specific you want to get)
  1. Collect – every time you get a new appointment, assignment, task, or goal, write it down somewhere as soon as you get the notice or idea. It is handy to keep a small notebook in your pocket or purse. Anything that is time sensitive, write it down on a calendar or planner (or both, if you have both). In your planner, write assignments down on both the dates they are due and the date you hear of it, so you know how long you have. On your calendar, write down only the due dates and appointments.
  2. Plan– Plan out tasks, assignments, papers, and personal goals in your notebook. If something will take longer than a few days, then mark reminders in your planner or calendar. If you like to make daily plans, outline blocks of time to work on your tasks each day – make sure you leave plenty of room and time for breaks and time with friends or outside. Choose ONE time per day to check email and make your plans. Morning or the night before is best, so you can either relax or wake up and mentally get ready for the day.
  3. Act – When it is time to do a certain task, cut off all other distractions and work through until it is done. Get all materials needed, as well as a to-do list already mapped out. Keep water and snacks nearby so you won’t have to get up or go to the store. And when you check regular mail and email, make sure every piece of mail has a place – garbage, save, reply, or act. Your inbox should be zero by the time you’re finished, then you won’t have to worry about it later. If a piece of mail has a time-sensitive piece of information on it, then make sure it’s in your calendar or on your to-do list. Try to do the worst thing first, so you can just get it out of the way. You can also take a look at your calendar and see what needs to be done first, like a paper due tomorrow.

Have you heard of GTD or tried it? How has it worked for you?

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Why You Should Give Up Mobile Surfing, Redbox, and Facebook

Surfing The WebTake a look at everything you either spend money on or time on. What do you see?

 

Does this list reflect your life’s goals or priorities? If not, you need to start an overhaul, or spring cleaning, of life’s worst time-suckers and money-wasters.

Here’s an example of things that I have spent or still do spend money on many times a week. Upon reflection, my life (and yours) could be far better without.

 

  • Web surfing on a smartphone. Do you have an iPhone, Android, or other smartphone that has web capabilities? Do you realize how much battery life this sucks out? Not to mention the additional monthly fee you spend just because you couldn’t wait to search on Google or watch a video on Youtube. Is your mobile web really worth missing out on the real social interactions you get from being outside of your home? It seriously pisses me off when I see people’s heads down at a club or a party, constantly looking on Facebook or texting other people. There’s real people to talk to right here!
  • Daily ice cream treat. I love ice cream, seriously. I love it so much that I have cravings for it everyday. Which is exactly why I need to quit this habit. A small treat here and there is totally fine, but if you’re constantly filling a huge bowl, grabbing seconds, or ordering the large cones, it’s time to quit cold turkey. A bad habit could turn into an addiction very quickly, especially if it’s delicious, creamy, and on sale 2/$5 at Stop & Shop.
  • Ordering french fries and soda. Eating out is something that should be on the quit list entirely, but mostly the real killer is not the main meal – they are a) the side and b) what you drink.  French fries are nothing but processed, fat-laden garbage that also tastes pretty decent. When you really pay attention to the taste, fry by fry, however, you’ll discover that it is more the tongue-numbing salt that is doing its job of making you shovel those faux potatos in your mouth. Ever take a bite out of an unsalted fry, and thought, this is pretty bland? That is because they are — and should be completely eliminated. Especially because all of that salt (in addition to your sandwich or burger) makes you thirsty like hell. The absolute worst thing to drink when you’re thirsty is caffeine, because it just makes you more dehydrated. Soda contains caffeine and sugar. So not only are you making yourself bloated, dehydrated, and fat, you’re also adding in completely empty calories, which is the nutrition equivalent of throwing money out the window.
  • Redbox. I like this movie renting box so much, I usually never pass an opportunity to go take a look at what’s inside, but it operates on the same principle of dollar stores and Ebay. They all lure you in with really cheap prices (usually a $1) so you’re only thinking, “Wow, only one dollar! I can’t pass this up!” But while you’re ordering more and more stuff, you’re brain is still excited about the sticker shock (in this case, the shock of a great deal), so it’s not mentally keeping track of how much stuff you’re buying. And pretty soon that $1 movie ends up being three $1 movies that you don’t return until Friday, which ends up being about $9 for three nights. I’ve seen a couple very good movies from Redbox, but compared to how many I’ve rented, that’s a very small percentage (maybe 5%). Most of them I end up getting mad at, so it’s still a dollar that I wasted (and 1-2 hours). And usually every time I go bring a movie back I will look for more, so pretty soon I’m steadily buying at least one $1 movie every night. Do this for a month, and that’s $30 spent on mostly crappy movies. Small amounts really do add up fast (what would you do with over $300 extra a year? Definitely not rent bad movies).
  • Obsessive Facebook and email checking. Ever been so bored online that you constantly keep going back to your inbox or Facebook (or other social networking site) every like, 10 minutes? It rips you out of whatever else you were doing, or should have been doing (college students, I’m talking about you. I know, I do it too). And once you change gears, it takes a while to re-focus and bring yourself back to what you were doing. If you find your motivation waning that much, it is best to take a real break – get off the computer and eat a snack, or go to bed, depending on the time. Take a quick stretch break if you’re in the midst of studying, and get some real social interaction for a couple of minutes (maybe you can even get new ideas). Next time you find yourself absentmindedly surfing, it’s best to catch yourself as soon as you can and just close the laptop and reserve doing these things once a day or even once a week, if you can allow yourself to do that.
  • Spontaneous bar outings. These are serious money-wasters. It’s fine to have fun every now and then, and to take advantage of specials like free ladies night or $2 tuesdays. But going out more than once or twice a week (or month), can burn a serious hole into your wallet. On an especially fun night, I’ll end up spending about $50. On a single night. Every week, that amounts to an extra $200 that I could better spend on paring down my recurring credit card balances or put into my savings for emergencies. I know many people that go out as much as 4 times per week, and can’t imagine the money they waste on drinks and cover prices, not to mention gas. Going out that frequently also takes a toll on your health (sugary alcoholic drinks, hangovers, and usually inhaling greasy bar or diner food at odd hours, is not healthy). It is best to reserve club nights and bar nights to maybe once or twice a month, and/or have a strict budget in mind, like only bringing $20 in cash and leaving your card at home. Also, do most of your drinking during the pregame (it’s cheaper), and choose venues that offer specials or discounts.
  • Casual mall-going or retail shopping. I’m a girl, so I’m no stranger to the magic powers of retail therapy. It’s how most girls spend their free time and communicate serious topics with their friends. Plus, buying stuff brings about a certain power, like, “I can afford to buy this,” especially if it’s well-desired (like an iPhone) or expensive (like an iPhone). Unfortunately, this is where most of my money seems to disappear. If I don’t have a concrete need to buy something, like an urgent need to buy a new shirt because my favorite one hit the dust, then it’s best not to go at all. Or at least leave your cash and cards at home. Charging is even worse, because you forget all about having to pay for it until well after shopper’s regret comes and goes, plus you have to pay interest, which is like throwing money away.
Are there any things I forgot? What small things do you waste money, time, or both, either regularly or unintentionally?
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