Manage Your Energy and Attention Rather Than Solely Managing Time

Katie Corbett holds the book "The Productivity Project."

By Katie Corbett

 

When people say they want to become more productive, they start by trying to manage their time. While this can be a good thing to do, I have found it helpful to instead think about two additional resources: energy and attention.

 

I first read about the ideas of managing energy and attention in “The Productivity Project” by Chris Bailey. He points out that energy and attention, like time, are not infinite. They are also unique to you, while everyone has the same amount of time in a day. Here is what I learned by paying attention to my energy and attention levels.

 

  • By tracking my energy, I could see patterns in fluctuation.
  • By taking regular breaks, I could stretch out the amount of time that my energy was focused.
  • By focusing on energy rather than time, I noticed that I was prioritizing tasks based on what my energy levels were like rather than how long I thought the task would take. As a result, I got things done a lot faster since I tried to do them when I had the most energy.
  • I learned that there are two different types of energy: creative and strategic. I rely on these different types depending on what task I plan to do.
  • By writing down my energy levels throughout the day, I learned that I’m strategic in the morning and creative in the afternoon. This has helped me manage the different types of tasks I need to do throughout the day, since some rely on strategic energy and others need my powers of creativity.
  • I can tell when my energy is waning so I now have a cut-off point at the end of the day. This helps me realize that I can relax and that I would not be productive if I continued working.

 

I encourage you to track your energy and attention levels throughout the day. Make note of when you feel the most energetic, and of what kind of energy it is. I strongly suggest tracking for at least a week, and abstaining from caffeine and other substances that could skew the results.

 

What do you notice about yourself and your work as you record your energy levels? Did you find anything that surprised you? Let me know in the comments.

 

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Looking for a Productivity Boost? Get in Touch with Your Future Self

By Katie Corbett

 

Procrastination. It is something each of us has considered at some point in our lives. It can be especially tempting if we are feeling anxiety or discomfort about a task ahead.

 

I used to procrastinate a lot more, until I read “The Productivity Project,” by Chris Bailey. The book suggests thinking about how your future self would feel if you failed to act now.

 

I once had a lot to get done to prepare for a meeting. I wanted to take the morning to relax and prepare that afternoon. I pictured my future self heading to the meeting the next day. If I didn’t get my preparations done that afternoon, I knew I would need to rush the next morning to finish all that I had to do. I pictured my future self scrambling to prep, and thought about how stressed I would be if I didn’t act now. I then considered how relaxed I would be if I did all that I needed to do in the present instead of wasting time procrastinating. As a result, I ended up working on the tasks I needed to complete before the afternoon rolled around, and they didn’t take me as long to do as I had thought. I had the chance to relax later that day, and I went into my meeting the next morning feeling prepared and confident.

 

Whenever I feel like procrastinating, I think about what I would be doing in the future, and how I’ll feel in the future if I don’t do something that I could handle in the present. Here are some questions to help with motivation as you picture your future self.

 

  • What will your future self need to do if you fail to act now?
  • How do you suspect your future self will feel about that?
  • Do you think your future self will wish that you had gotten the tasks done sooner?
  • How will your future self feel if you do everything you need to do now?
  • Will your future self be proud of your present self if you act now?

 

These are just a few questions to get you thinking. I hope they help you accomplish all that you wish to do without giving into the temptation to procrastinate.

 

I’d love to hear what you are working on and what projects you want to start soon. Have you found a hack to beat procrastination? Feel free to drop me a comment.

 

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Identify Your Highest Impact Tasks and Do Them First

By Katie Corbett

 

With all there is to do in a day, it can be easy to spend time doing little things that get you nowhere. As I was learning about productivity, I learned that weeding these small tasks out and focusing on those that make the largest impact is the quickest route to success.

 

In the book “The Productivity Project”, by Chris Bailey, focusing on your highest impact activities is of utmost importance. As I was starting my writing business, I thought about what my unique talents were and how I could make the most of my time.

 

As I was preparing writing projects, I realized that I disliked editing. I found it tedious and it took me a long time. On the other hand, I loved networking, interviewing, and putting the initial story together. I decided right then and there that editing was not a high-yield task for me.

 

I reached out to a few friends in my network in hopes of finding a copyeditor. The one I found is worth her weight in gold. She is truly gifted at editing and proofreading. My pieces are so much more cohesive once she has worked on them. And I have all the time I need to interview, prospect, and write.

 

What low-impact tasks are you wasting time on? How can you stop wasting time and start doing what you are good at? Who do you need in your life to make that happen?

 

Are you committed to letting go of tasks that don’t serve you and focusing on the ones that give you the most value? I would love to hear how it goes, so leave me a comment.

 

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Keep Feeding Your Curiosity

Katie Corbett holds the book "The Productivity Project."

By Katie Corbett

 

It can be easy to look at everything you are accomplishing in life and feel like you are doing things well enough. If something is working, after all, why change it? I have found it helpful to think of exploring new ideas before making a change, to see if an idea resonates with me before trying it.

 

I love getting new ideas of how to do things better and more efficiently. That’s why I recently read “The Productivity Project”, by Chris Bailey. When it comes to productivity, here is a list of reasons why I’m productive, and why I learn new things.

 

  1. I like exploring new ideas.
  2. I like seeing how others live their lives.
  3. I enjoy experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t.
  4. I want to see what I can accomplish and how far I can push myself.
  5. I love to learn.
  6. I think ideas are some of the most powerful forces in the world.
  7. Exploring ideas and greater efficiency gives me something to talk about with others.
  8. Gathering new ideas reminds me that there is always another way of handling something or of looking at a situation.
  9. Being productive reminds me that I can contribute to the world.
  10. Seeking ways to be more productive gives me a reason to keep learning, growing, and exploring.

 

Greater productivity might not be what motivates you to keep being curious. Here are some questions to ask yourself about why you want to keep using your noodle.

 

  • What do you want to know more about?
  • What benefits would this bring you?
  • What could you do to feed your curiosity that is manageable, given your current level of responsibility?
  • What is one thing you can do each day to grow your knowledge?
  • How will continuing to ask, and find the answers to, questions help you now and in the future?

 

I hope this list of questions motivates you to keep expanding your horizons. I would love to know where your curiosity is taking you. Feel free to leave a comment.

 

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Focus on Education Over Selling to Demonstrate Your Value

Katie Corbett holds the book "The Referral Engine"

By Katie Corbett

 

I run a freelance writing business. Not surprisingly, sales is now a large part of my regular business practice. Authenticity is an important quality to me, and I want to tell you about a technique that helps me stay true to myself and get new writing leads at the same time.

 

The book, “The Referral Engine,” by John Jantsch, recommends focusing on educating rather than selling. Focusing on educating others helps me avoid being spammy or desperate. It can help you in your efforts, too, because you can apply creativity to your job hunt. Here are some ideas:

 

  • Start a blog or podcast where you post content that is relevant to those who might be looking to hire you.
  • If you enjoy interviewing guests, this could be a great way to get your audience involved and meet more people.
  • Consider other areas in which you are an expert and create content around that; I made a list of 25-30 ideas before I settled on business books.
  • Attend mastermind groups and offer to help when you can.
  • Look for opportunities to speak to share your expertise.

 

The hardest part about this project will be to get started. It can be as easy as posting frequently on your Facebook or LinkedIn profile, or as complex as starting a company to solve a specific problem. Find a way to be seen as an expert. It will help give you purpose and bring others to you who want to know about what you have to offer.

 

A word about building awareness: I recommend setting metrics that you control to evaluate your success, such as posting regularly or sharing your work with a certain number of people. This practice will keep you from getting discouraged if it takes you longer to build a following. I focus on posting one time per week, and that keeps me motivated to keep blogging.

 

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Reasons to Become a Giver

Katie Corbett holds the book "The Referral Engine"

By Katie Corbett

 

People usually help those they know, like and trust. Part of developing that know, like and trust factor is to give help as you can, in ways that are meaningful to those receiving your help.

 

In the book, “The Referral Engine,” John Jantsch talked about having a service-oriented approach to boost the reputation of your company. The same is true if you are an individual looking for a job. I encourage you to make a list of all the things you could do to help someone. At the least, this will keep you busy and give you purpose as you are waiting to hear back about potential job leads and interviews. Here are some questions to consider as you are making your list:

 

  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • Is there anything you promised to do for someone that you haven’t gotten around to doing yet?
  • What causes are important to you?
  • What types of help do people usually ask for from you?
  • Is there something you are good at that other people need?
  • Is there something you have been meaning to try and want a place to test your skills?

 

To show that I practice what I preach, I will make a list of ways I plan to help people this month:

 

  1. Introduce two people I promised to introduce.
  2. Post job openings to a group of friends, many of whom are looking for a job.
  3. Reach back out to someone I recently finished career coaching and ask what I can do to help.
  4. Offer to write a case study for my favorite nonprofit.
  5. Look in Facebook groups for quick things I can do to help someone.

 

I hope you get a lot of mileage out of offering to help. Approaching your job search with an attitude of giving will make you stand out among other applicants. Most of all, I hope helping others makes you feel good and like you have a purpose.

 

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Generating Referrals and Recommendations Takes a System

Katie Corbett holds the book "The Referral Engine"

By Katie Corbett

 

When I was a senior in college, one of my professors recommended me for a job. It was an exhilarating experience to have someone recommending me, since I hadn’t worked a full-time job yet. I interviewed, did quite well, and I was in the top five candidates. While it was flattering to be recommended and get so far along in the process, I soon learned that such opportunities are not commonplace. Often times, to get a recommendation for a job, it is helpful to have a system in place to ask for recommendations from the people you know.

 

I recently read the book, “The Referral Engine,” by John Jantsch, and it talked about how a good system brings in referrals. The same applies for job recommendations.

 

Developing a system that is personalized to you is important, because you will be more likely to follow a system you enjoy doing. Here are some questions that could help you develop your system:

 

  1. How do you like to communicate with people?
  2. How often do you feel comfortable doing reach-outs?
  3. Do you communicate better in writing or verbally?
  4. How many times will you follow up with people before taking them off your list so you can avoid constantly following up with the same individuals?
  5. What reminder systems will you put in place to help you track your progress?

 

The most important aspect of this system is that it is tailor-made for you. Remember to account for your needs, life circumstances and the type of job you are seeking as you develop your system.

 

What questions do you have about devising your own job recommendation and job hunting system? Let me know in the comments.

 

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Reflections on The 4-Hour Workweek: Just-in-Time Information

Katie Corbett holds the book, "The 4-Hour Workweek"

By Katie Corbett

 

Since I owe a lot of my success—and future planning—to the book, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” by Tim Ferriss, I have decided to revisit the book each quarter in 2021. Here are my thoughts as we end quarter two. I hope this inspires you to pick up a book that helps you live your dreams. Enjoy!