Monday , March 18 2019

Double Your Productivity Every 30 Minutes With This Simple “List Hack”

Time. It’s our greatest illusion.

But, since we’ve really bought into this one, and we’ve given it so much of it’s own “life force”, I suppose we might as well learn to bend and mold and shape it into something more… useful.

We’re not merely going to talk about time, though.

Time is time. It’s fairly absolute. The ticker tocks, and the hands move from symbol to symbol. It doesn’t get tired. It doesn’t pause. It just keeps on keeping on.

Energy, however, is quite dynamic.

Some times it’s high, sometimes it’s low. Sometimes you’ve got an abundance of it, and other times you’re drained of it.

So, it’s safe to say, your energy needs more of your concentration and direction and protection, than your time.

So, let’s play with this “Time Warping” idea, shall we?

Time Warping

The ZERO-Point List Method

First… It’s called the “Zero-Point List Method” because the objective is to get to ZERO To-Do’s by the end of your work period. (or day for some of us)

It all began a little over 4 years ago when I was just embarking on my entrepreneurial journey in the online World. It was then that I started this new habit.

It wasn’t anything new, or revolutionary, and that’s probably the reason that it became so overwhelmingly inefficient. (no, not the ZERO-Point method… we’ll get to that)

I started filling entire notebooks full of my ideas. My products. My plans. Not as a journal (as I do now), but as To-Do Lists.

I’d create these ridiculous lists of 20… 30… sometimes even 40 (or more) items that I had to accomplish. It was unrealistic to think that I could get all of that done in just a few days, but I also set goals like that too.

This sounding at all familiar?

So, over the years I had continued this practice. Habituated it. Became wrapped up in it.

And over and over again, I’d revisit my lists, my notebooks filled with dozens upon dozens of empty boxes, with only a few check marks in sight. A very discouraging “ritual.”

Then, about a year ago, I started using some technology to build these to-do lists. Better… But, not quite the sweet-spot.

EvernoteI started with Evernote (my personal favorite), but would still build ridiculous lists. Then I got introduced to Omnifocus, and still… I was just more enable to create a list of dozens upon dozens of items.

It wasn’t until very recent. We’re talking just a couple short months ago, that I broke through.

In a bout of extreme frustration, starring down at my to-do list for Leap Tribe (which numbered over 50+ items) I went on a deletion rampage.

I eliminated EVERYTHING except for the most essential tasks.

Many of the little “minor” tasks were bundled together into a single major task.

By the time I finished, I had only 5 tasks on my to-do list. Two of which were personal: Journal (daily) and Study Spanish.

It was the first time in a VERY long time that I made it to the end of the day having completed every task on my to-do.

At first it felt strange. I felt as if I should have done more. After all, if I accomplished everything on the list, then there must have been enough room for one or two extra tasks.

But, you see, it’s that kind of thinking that’ll trap you, and pull you back into the World of overwhelm and frustration.

Catching that thought and discarding it, I felt a new sensation… Inspiration! Renewal! Vitalization!

It was a breath of fresh air.

The next day, I did the same thing, and made it to the end of the day with a completed to-do list.

After a week of this, I discovered a very peculiar happening… Over the course of 5 days, I had accomplished more than I had in the month prior. And it wasn’t that I was doing less… I was certainly doing more.

Leap Tribe was a massive project. This entire site is custom coded with pages upon pages of CSS and HTML. (built on my favorite theme: Thesis Theme 2.0)

What it was, was that I was able to focus more of my energy on the core task (which included many smaller tasks) because there was ONE single end goal in mind.

When you have a single end goal in mind (even if you know there are many minor goals that need accomplishing to get there) you no longer get stuck in the wheel of indecision.

Wheel of Indecision :: The process of starring at an overwhelming number of things attempting to decide which one to do, take, buy, or consume first, but never making any progress towards any one thing.

The Strategy

  1. Establish a CORE objective. This is the ultimate end goal.
  2. Brain Dump – Block out 5 minutes and write all of the to-dos that you think you’ll need to accomplish to complete your project.
  3. Deletion – {Kill} any non-essential to-dos.
    • If building a graphic for your lead magnet is on the list, this is not an essential to-do right now. Leave this one in the “brain dump” for later. You want ONLY the essentials on your list.
  4. Slice It Up – Now that you’ve gotten rid of any tasks that don’t contribute directly to the CORE objective, it’s time to slice it up into micro-tasks.
  5. Micro-Tasking – Now you’ve got a list of a handful of “micro tasks” but putting them ALL on your to-do list for today is counter productive. Micro-Tasking is about achieving just a few small wins every day.
    • Block out some time to work on your project. If it’s 30 minutes today, then look at your micro-tasks and estimate how many you can accomplish in just 30 minutes.
    • If you have trouble setting realistic timeframe-goals, remove 1 or 2 of the tasks you set for yourself to achieve today. You should really only have 1-2 micro-tasks per 30 minute block.

Think in weeks, rather than days or hours. You’ll accomplish far more than you imagine.

Bill Gates Quote“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

– Bill Gates

In our example we used 30 minutes, because that’s what MOST budding entrepreneurs have to work with in their busy day.

You’ll find that, paradoxically, you can achieve more by doing LESS every day, and by attempting to do MORE every day, you’ll actually end up achieving far less.

But, there’s another “productivity hack” that I’ve been playing with recently that I think you’ll like…

It’s called the Pomodoro Technique.

In fact, I’ve been typing away for a little bit longer than I was supposed to, break time!


Kay. Back to this Pomodoro Technique.

Pomodoro TechniqueWhile I must admit, 5 minutes just isn’t enough of a break for me personally, I do like the idea of taking strategic breaks throughout an hour of work.

I used to go 3, 4, sometimes even 5 hours at a time without a break. I might take a minute to heat up some food, but I’d run back to my Macbook and continue working. Perfect recipe for BURN OUT.

So, here’s the Pomodoro Technique in a nutshell. You can check out their cool site for more details. There’s even a book.

First, a pomodoro is considered one uninterrupted 25-minute session.

After 25 minutes is up, you take a short break (about 5 minutes) doing something relaxing. No work-related stuff. This isn’t time to check your email, or look at your fan page engagement, or respond to comments on Google Plus… RELAX.

Here’s 3 Suggestions You Can Try Right Now

  1. Deep, cleansing breaths. This is something I learned from a Peruvian Shaman-Yogi a couple years ago. You’re going to breath in slowly through your nose.
    • First, place your hands on your hips, and breath into your belly-region. Do this three times.
    • Next, place your thumbs under your arm-pits with your hand parallel with the ground (index finger will lie on your chest). Breath into your chest-region….and breath out… (repeat three times)
    • Then, place your finger-tips on your shoulders (elbows out and back – should feel a light opening in your chest) and breath into your upper shoulder-region. (repeat three times)
    • Now, sit with your hands in your lap, or rest them on your knees (if you’re sitting cross-legged) and breath deeply into your belly-area and continue inhaling all the way up to your chest, and ending at your upper shoulder-region. It’s ONE single deep breath that fills up your entire lungs. (repeat three times)
  2. Forward-bends.
    • Sitting all day is unhealthy. Lots of cons, but the main one that I personally struggle with is tight-hips and lower-back. I think a lot of “office-dwelling” folks do.
    • Standing up straight, and slowly bending forward, keeping your back straight (not too exaggerated, just preventing it from rounding) attempt to touch your toes. You should feel a good stretch in your hamstring (back of the leg), which is a major source of lower-back pain.
  3. Self-Hand Massage.
    • Typing away on your computer? Playing games on your phone? Whatever you’re doing, you’re likely using your hands a LOT. Especially if you’re blogging.
    • Spend a couple minutes on each hand, massaging the finger-tips and mostly the palm of your hand; near your thumb and on the outside area of the palm are really good. (use lotion if your hands are dry or you’ll slowly tear your thumb-nail from the skin. OUCH!)
    • Grab a good reflexology book as a bonus.

Even if you don’t follow the Pomodoro Technique “by the book”, you can still apply the simple idea that “Taking a short break here and there is a GOOD thing.”

Now, I’m curious…

What’s something you do on a daily basis to stay focused, energized, and get the most from your time? Let me know in the comments below!

About Nick Haubner

Nick is an innovative entrepreneur and thought-leader. He's always coming up with new angles and "gamified" elements to engage his audience in a way that's not only educational, but fun & rewarding. And, with 7+ years of meticulous studies of various religions, philosophies, and ways of being, he blends his own unique perspective with these "ideas" to bring you a deep (yet easy to understand & lighthearted) view of the World that'll open your eyes and inspire you to dig deeper into yourself to be the BEST you that you can be. Enjoy!

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