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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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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Stop the Negative Self-Talk

Katie Corbett holds the book "Emotional Intelligence 2.0"

By Katie Corbett

 

The area of emotional intelligence, or EQ, that I have concentrated on recently is self-management. That means working to use my awareness of my emotions to actively control what I say and do. I have noticed that I have become more positive, had more positive interactions with others and found greater satisfaction in life overall.

 

The book, “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”, by Travis Bradberry, gave me several strategies that I have found helpful. One was controlling, and in most cases stopping, the negative self-talk that was happening inside my head. I have discovered that thinking the word “STOP” when I discover I’m headed down a self-deprecating rabbit-hole of thought very helpful. Since doing this:

 

  1. I can think more clearly without all the negative noise taking up brain space.
  2. I am less anxious.
  3. I can problem-solve faster and arrive more quickly at solutions.
  4. I am less worried of what I suspect others think of me.
  5. I am more confident.
  6. I have silenced my inner critic.
  7. I have realized that many of my worries never come to pass.
  8. When problems come up or bad things happen, I am less likely to dwell on those things.
  9. Instead of dwelling on the past or beating myself up for what I “should have done differently”, I am looking toward the future.
  10. Overall, I am happier, less stressed and more free to be myself.

 

I’m still working on fully employing this strategy. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a long way to go to catch myself every time. The more times I do silence my inner negative thoughts, the better life is for me and for those around me.

 

The next time your inner voice tells you something negative, I encourage you to think the word “STOP” and see if that brings silence to your thoughts and peace to your inner world. Maybe thinking “STOP” isn’t the right method for you. To find many other ideas, pick up “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” and find a better solution. I hope you experience some of the changes I have seen in myself in these past few months.

 

If you find a strategy that works better for you, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear all about it.

 

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Get in Opportunity’s Way: Where are the Places you Need to Go?

Katie Corbett holds the book "The Proximity Principle"

By Katie Corbett

People often talk about getting an opportunity because they were in the right place at the right time. What if you could increase the likelihood of that happening to you by putting yourself in the places where opportunity would likely come knocking?

“The Proximity Principle,” by Ken Coleman, suggests doing just that. Here are some ideas and examples of places that could put you in touch with opportunity.

• Join industry clubs.
• Show up at conferences.
• Go back to school.
• Get a job at a large company that is in the industry you want to work in.
• Visit meetings of networking clubs.
• Read trade or industry publications.
• Sign up for email newsletters pertinent to your desired field.
• Job shadow with someone you know who works in that industry.
• Volunteer with an industry organization or event.
• Attend community events where those in your desired industry might hang out.

I have gotten several jobs through networking and being in the places where I met people who hired me. While at events, I also met people who told me about the job opportunity so I could apply. It might take time, but this process works.

I have my current writing job, for example, because the photographer at a company where I was temping introduced me to his wife. I got her card, followed up and scheduled a coffee meeting with her. She became my boss a couple months later.

It might take some getting out of your comfort zone, but hopefully it will be enjoyable. Something might come from it, or something might not, so it is important to remember to enjoy the experience.

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How Productive can you Be?

Katie Corbett holds the book "The 12-Week Year"

By Katie Corbett

If someone told me that a book could help me be more productive, get healthier in mind and body, and provide more overall satisfaction in life, I probably would have laughed. I’m glad no one told me that, because it has been so enjoyable going on the journey and discovering it for myself.

I started reading, “The 12-Week Year”, by Brian Moran, and it has changed my life. Here’s the basic principle behind the book:

Step 1: Decide what is important to work on in your life right now. It could be eating healthier, reading more, building a business, or focusing on your relationships.
Step 2: Pick the most impactful action step you can take to move yourself forward in that area of life.
Step 3: Do that action step every day for 12 weeks.
Step 4: Track your progress each day.
Step 5: At the end, take another week – called The 13th Week – to celebrate success and evaluate the impact on your life.

That’s it. I’m winding down my third 12-Week Year and the results of taking consistent action are incredible.

I started my first 12-Week Year in August of 2019. The most important goal in my life was to decrease stress. I decided I also wanted to become more well-rounded as a person, so doing one hobby each day seemed like a great way to accomplish both objectives. I did hobbies alone and with friends. I tried things I had never done before, as well as hobbies I used to enjoy, but had abandoned over time. It was so fun to give my brain a break and relax.

For my second 12-Week Year, I decided to focus on my reproductive health. I did an acupressure routine each day to get my hormones in better balance. It worked wonders.

The 12-Week Year I’m currently finishing involves my commitment to brush my teeth twice a day and floss once a day. I had fallen out of the practice for the past few years, only brushing once a day and flossing when I felt I really needed to. It feels great to get back on the band wagon.

I plan to continue brushing and flossing once this 12-Week Year has ended, I still do my acupressure each day, and I participate in a hobby occasionally. I’m not sure yet what I will do for my fourth 12-Week Year, but I’m excited to see where this journey takes me.

I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book and give this productivity booster a try. I hope you are surprised and encouraged by the fruits of your efforts.

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Working Remotely: Secrets for Productivity and Success

Katie Corbett headshot

By Katie Corbett

Working remotely—usually from home—can seem like a glorious adventure. No commute, plenty of alone time, and the ability to work in your pajamas if you so choose. Thing is, if you’re not careful, it can be easy to get distracted by the dishes you need to do or the laundry piling up. Here are some tips I’ve found helpful to keep in mind whenever I work from home.

Listen and enjoy!

Creative Procrastination: Eat the Worst Frog First

Katie Corbett holds a book

By Katie Corbett

Everything that needs to get done will get done. That, and “There is a right time for everything” are two phrases that used to stump me. If I’m not working constantly and trying to do everything, how will things get done?

In his book, “Eat that Frog,” Brian Tracy says to do the worst, toughest things first and ignore the little things. Eventually, even the little things will become truly urgent, and they will get done. That idea has applied to my blogging more than I might like to admit. Here’s how.

Choosing the Next Book: I like to buy my books in batches. (I read digital copies and then buy physical copies once I decide to blog about the book, so I have it for my blog photo.) Book selection occurs on a quarterly basis, as I reflect on the books that have made a difference in my life and career. I pick the top three and purchase those.
Selecting the Post Topics: Early in the month in which I plan to write about a specific book, I go through it and pick out the tips and ideas I have applied to my life and found success doing. I create files for each post and put the title, my name and an idea of what I would like to cover in the post. That way, I can start writing when it’s time to write.
The Actual Writing: Mid-to-late month, I sit down and start writing. Nothing need be perfect or final. As long as I get the ideas out, that’s the goal.
The Recording: I typically do my recording after this initial post writing is complete. All I do is think of a topic, write a list of things I’d like to talk about and press record.
Editing and Uploading: Sometime the week the first of these newly-written posts will publish, I do final edits, upload, and email my virtual assistant to get the photos up.

This creative procrastination idea applies throughout the entire process. Instead of worrying about all the little things that I want and need to do for my blog, I focus on the one important task of the day. One day, that might be selecting and ordering new books, another day it might be writing, and another day I edit and upload. If it seems overly simple, that’s probably because it is. And sometimes, even if you might not feel like doing the tough thing, circumstances will force you to do it. This blog post, for example, exists because my phone, laptop and portable book player all have dead batteries and are recharging at the moment. I didn’t want to sit near the outlet, so I’m writing this post using my braille display, even though I’d honestly rather do it tomorrow. It turns out that doing the hard things involves sitting down and, you know, doing the hard things. They’re called hard things for a reason, but it’s usually worth it to get them done. And, as with what happened to me today, sometimes life gives you no other option.

At the start of each day, I ask myself: What do I need to get done today for the day to be considered a success? I hope you start asking yourself that, too. It might be to apply for some jobs, revise your résumé, or do something kind for yourself or a loved-one. Whatever it is, I’d love to hear about the success you end up having, so leave a comment so I can cheer you on.

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Beat Procrastination: Prepare Thoroughly Before you Begin

Katie Corbett holds a book

By Katie Corbett

When working on a project, we have all had the experience of getting halfway through and needing to stop because you don’t have something you need. I have done this occasionally and find it time-consuming and frustrating. I started looking for a solution.

When I read the book, “Eat that Frog,” by Brian Tracy, I learned it can be helpful to prepare in advance and gather everything I need before starting. I decided to test this with social media writing I needed to do for work.

Before I gave preparing a try, I would sit down to write posts for Facebook and Twitter and would have to stop in the middle of writing to gather information, such as links, hashtags and quotes, for my posts. My writing took a long time and it wasn’t very creative, since I kept getting interrupted by the need for information. Things had to change, so I developed a new plan. Here’s what I’m doing now, which works much better.

I try my best to write social media posts on Wednesdays. Wednesday morning, I gather all the materials I need for each post I plan to write that day. I put everything – links, notes, hashtags, photo ideas – into a text file so it is all in one place. I then take a break for lunch and come back that afternoon refreshed and ready to get my creative juices flowing.

Working this way over the past couple months, I have noticed being able to get more done in less time, working with fewer interruptions, greater clarity on what I should be writing, and the ability to separate the writing and the research.

Whatever your project might be, from a book you are writing, to a business you are building, to an event you are planning, to a cake you are baking, I recommend making a list of everything you will need and gathering as much of it as you can in advance. Let me know how it goes in the comments. I hope it will help you be more efficient and get things done faster.

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Monologue: The Best Times to do Various Things (Book Recommendations)

Katie Corbett headshot

By Katie Corbett

If you’ve ever wondered “When is the best time to interview for a job?” or, “How often should I update my resume?” I’ve got two book recommendations for you that could answer all your job-related—and personal—questions. Listen to get the full scoop!