Rank #1: ProdPod: Episode 68--Digital Clutter: Out of Sight Is Not Out of Mind
Aug 08 2013
Rank #2: ProdPod: Episode 63 -- Life-Work Balance
Note: I'll add this one final thought credited to my fellow productivity enthusiast and journalism professor Kenna Griffin (who you can find blogging at profkrg.com) who coined life-work balance instead as "Work-Life Negotiation" since all of life is a negotiation.
I hear people tell me often that I "work too much." While this may seem like the case, I can assure you that's not the case. I have a different paradigm about the definition of "work" and how it fits into my life. Life is dynamic and long-term process. Instead of worrying about if you're working too much (and definitely worrying about whether someone else is working too much), I suggest that you determine how satisfied you are with how you spend your time. And, you know what I'm going to say...there's only one way to know that...track your time! In this episode, I'd like to explain my calculation of what I call life-work balance (because I work to live, not vice versa) and therefore "life" should proceed "work," but perhaps not in the way you think.
Typically, it shouldn't take you more than a week or two of tracking your time on, say, an hourly basis. There are myriad applications that you can use, as well as a good old-fashioned printed spreadsheet with date, description of the task, and length of time spent on that task. At the end of this period of tracking, you'll have a pretty good sampling of your activities across work and life. Now, categorize them into your life categories. You can use a series of colored highlighters or just noting the category next to each task for which you tracked time. Are you starting to see any patterns?
Now, think about your life and life categories. In an ideal world,
Think of your life-work balance as a pie chart. All that matters is that the pie is whole and that you have a healthy perspective about its slices. That's balance...not a 50-50 balancing scale between all that is life and all that is work. Will your pie always be full? No. Will your pie sometimes burn? Yes. That's life and nothing a little elbow grease can't fix. But you know what your life-work balance pie should look like, and that'll help create better focus for you on how your pie should look, smell and taste.
I'll add this one final thought credited to my fellow productivity enthusiast and journalism professor Kenna Griffith (who you can find blogging at profkrg.com) who coined life-work balance instead as "Work-Life Negotiation" since all of life is a negotiation. Semantics makes a difference, so give that some thought. Thanks, Kenna!Semantics makes a difference, so give that some thought. Thanks, Kenna!
Apr 25 2013
The Productivityist Podcast: A Time Management and Personal Productivity Talk Show
The GTD® Virtual Study Group
Change Your Game with GTD®
The Paul Minors Podcast: Productivity, Business & Self-Improvement
Extreme Productivity with Kevin Kruse
The Action Catalyst
Habits 2 Goals: The Habit Factor® Podcast with Martin Grunburg
Simple Life Habits
Time Management Ninja
Taking Note: Conversations with Evernote
The Less Doing Podcast
Productivity Straight Talk - Time Management, Productivity and Business Growth Tips
The Working With... Podcast
The Productive Woman
Rank #3: ProdPod: Episode 38 -- Outsource Your Personal Tasks, Part I
For many of us, we feel overwhelmed not by the many things we are doing on a daily basis but by the many things we want to be doing additionally or instead of what we're already doing everyday. Furthermore, we find ourselves responding more often to communication than actively doing what we've planned. Think of Dr. Stephen Covey's thoughts on doing more "important, not urgent" activities than the other three quadrants of "not important, not urgent," "not important, urgent," and "important, urgent" distractions. If you don't know what the Merill/Covey Matrix looks like, head over to Google Images or Wikipedia and search for it to see how this long-term goals planning tool works.Well, if you are struggling with these distractions (which many times still need to be managed or handled in some way, shape or form) I think there's an answer for you. There's a burgeoning industry in the area of personal outsourcing; the IT sector has seen the greatest growth and media exposure in outsourcing generally but this is even more defined. Administrative, professional and executive secretaries, assistants and concierges (some with very specialized skills) are jumping on the entrepreneurial bandwagon and are helping everyday people at reasonable prices to get the laborious, time-consuming and mundane tasks of life done.Now, while there's plenty of discussion about virtual assistants on the Web today, the fact is that you probably need a variety of people to do more specialized outsourcing in your personal life. That is, everyone who can afford it should hire at least a virtual assistant, then possibly a personal concierge and a daily money manager for more specialty tasks. In the next episode I'll explain what each of those roles are and how you can utilize them.
Jun 26 2012
Most Popular Podcasts
Rank #5: ProdPod: Episode 81 -- Productivity and Your Two Minds
economics, Daniel Kahneman, the scientific community has a deeper
understanding of well-being. To wit, Kahneman revealed that humans live
with two minds--our experiencing and remembering selves. In this episode
I'd like to discuss these two selves and how it relates to your personal
The experiencing self is that which answers the question, "How do I feel
right now?"…what you sense is most important to your experiencing self.
Sensory-specific, the experiencing self is mostly focused on the present
view of sights, sounds, smells, physical sensations, and tastes.
The remembering self, on the other hand, is a past-focused mind and makes
decisions intuitively based on what our brain memorializes of our
experiences. It answers the question, "What happened?"...what you perceive
happened becomes the story you
remember and reenforces it as reality.
One way of looking at it is that the experiencing self
renders facts now while the
remembering self tells stories about
YOUR PRODUCTIVE SELF
Do you remember the last time you worked on a really difficult project or
task? Well, it turns out that Kahneman's research explains why we dread,
procrastinate and even remember projects or tasks as difficult. You see,
Kahneman writes about moment-utility (which I've provided a link to his
paper explaining it below); the idea is to capture much more in-the-moment
data as you experience a situation, such as working on a really difficult
project or task. It turns out that when your experiencing self does the
tracking and analysis, you have a better assessment of your
experiences and you also have a better
feeling about positive outcomes. Using Kahneman's findings, I recommend
that when you're dealing with a difficult project or task to answer these
three series of questions:
1. "How do I
physically feel right now?" (The likelihood is that physically you're
2. "What does
success, accomplishment or complete look like for me in the next five to 15
minutes?" (This gives you a more realistic view of the project or
3. At the point of
ending a project, task or a period of finishing some part of either, ask
yourself (and even better, write it down somewhere), "how good/accomplished
do I feel? What have I learned that I can use in the future?" (Ending on a
positive message will give your remembering self something to look back on
to equate your productivity with a positive affect.)
You see, ending on a high note, or on a less negative tone, than the
initial upstart difficulty will inevitably teach your remembering self
that difficult projects or tasks usually only start off that way. And,
even if there are challenges along the way, it's usually only difficult
in peak periods. This rewriting of your brain patterns will make you
leap at new challenges instead of sulking when you look at your project
or task list and see something that might be tough...and this will make
you sincerely more productive.
Dr. Kahneman's research paper on
Jan 10 2014
Rank #6: ProdPod: Episode 51 -- Two-Minute Book Summary: The Four-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss mentions the Pareto Principle (which I explained in Episode 49), so I figured I would highlight the book's key points in this episode.At its core, the Four-Hour Workweek is about creating a lifestyle that works for you, not vice versa. If you haven't listened to Episode 49, it defines the Pareto Principle (aka the 80/20 rule) as Ferriss implemented in his own professional world.
The author uses a strategy composed of Definition, Elimination, Automation and then Liberation (the acronym, DEAL) to effectuate his "lifestyle design" concept. First, Definition boils down to planning. What are your goals, needs and wants? Next, Elimination is the where he discusses effectiveness over efficiency. And, while I disagree with his bases for the discussion, he effectively discusses using the 80/20 rule here to learn to focus, say "no," and eliminate distractions (for example, the idea of going on an "information diet").Then, the section on Automation is about tactics to create passive revenue streams; basically, businesses that can run themselves. While this idea is appealing, I say stick to doing what you're passionate about and avoid this get-rich-quick scheme-y thought stream. Either way, I think he adds some great thoughts on hiring a virtual assistant (see ProdPod Episodes 38 through 41 on outsourcing parts of your life for greater productivity)!Finally, Liberation covers the concept of making your life mobile, if possible.In a practical sense, I think you'd apply his methodology as Definition, Elimination, Liberation and then Automation, if you're already working full-time for an employer; but that's up to practicalities of finance and time/energy resources available to you.One key concept that I really enjoyed about the book was his idea of mini-retirements so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor before you're too old and gray to really enjoy life.Altogether, the Four-Hour Workweek provides you a framework to understand that your time and life are valuable beyond the 9-5 humdrum. And for that, we can all appreciate ourselves a little more.
Feb 05 2013
Rank #7: ProdPod: Episode 26 -- Technology and Simplicity
1- How often do you use each of the devices you own? Like with your wardrobe, if you haven't worn it this year, it's likely you won't use it next year.
2- Can you consolidate functionality? If you've had a printer, scanner and fax machine sitting around your office or home office for several years, now might be the time to think about consolidating to a wireless, network multi-function printer/scanner/copier and getting a service such as MyFax or eFax that allows you to send/receive faxes by email. This will reduce the devices, clutter and gives you more telecommunications options.
3- Are there new Cloud-based technologies that help you become more device-independent? For example, if you carry a smartphone and an MP3 player, you may want to try out Google Music (the new Web-based music player hosts up to 20,000 of your songs for free so you can access them anywhere) by going to music.google.com and phasing out the extra device.
The beauty of living in an age of advanced technology is that you can also streamline, so why not take advantage!
I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS EPISODE OF PRODPOD. THIS IS RAY SIDNEY-SMITH AND THANKS FOR LISTENING! HERE'S TO YOUR PRODUCTIVITY SUCCESS...IN TWO MINUTES OR LESS.
Dec 06 2011
Rank #8: ProdPod: Episode 49 -- Pareto Principle of Productivity
In this episode I discuss the Pareto Principle of Productivity, so 20% of the next two minutes contains 80% of its productive value! ;-) Enjoy!
At a very young age, we understand that some things are more important than others. As soon as we're born, we learn that the scent of our mothers is important for our survival as the source of our nutrition. As we get a bit older, we realized quickly that mom and dad are more important than the strangers on the street. And as the comparison between objects and concepts get stronger and more complex, we learn to differentiate.
Did you ever hear that 80% of your success comes from 20% of your effort? Inversely, you commit 80% of your effort on outcomes that provide you only 20% of your success.Have you heard of the 80/20 rule, or better known as the Pareto Principle? This notion comes from economics..to be precise, from an Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto at the turn of the 20th century. He observed that 80% of land (ergo, 80% of its wealth) was owned by 20% of the people, therefore 80% of the wealth was owned by the 20% that were wealthy, and not just in Italy but in many other countries as Pareto did more statistical analysis. This Pareto Principle has been applied in business, health care, mathematics and many other fields, and now it's made its way into personal productivity. I'll take the latitude of stating generally the Pareto Principle for productivity as 80% of your success comes from 20% of your effort. The standard advice therefore is to focus on that 20% then eliminate the rest. And, I mostly reject this notion for anyone who is already working efficiently and effectively. You see, if you've learned a productivity methodology (like GTD) or have your own productivity system designed, especially how to actively process your inputs into actions, delete, delegate, defer, and archive your inputs, you probably won't find much value in the stated corollary to the Pareto Principle. My take on the 80/20 rule has more to do with the over-arching strategy behind your productivity system and making it work better for your already productive life. While most productivity experts speak of efficient, effective effort (the 20%), So, at the project and system level, use 20% of your time to plan AND review to yield the best 80% of your productive DOING time. For example, you make a list, do what's on that list then afterward review what you did. I recommend that 80% of your time should have been spent doing what was on the list, 10% planning, and 10% reviewing. Although 80% is a rough estimate (and you should find out how much planning and review is really good for you), the 80/20 rule gives you a good standard set to know when you're planning and reviewing too little or too much. From Wikipedia: The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The Pareto principle was a prominent part of the 2007 bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Ferriss recommended focusing one's attention on those 20% that contribute to 80% of the income. More notably, he also recommends 'firing' – refusing to do business with – those 20% of customers who take up the majority of one's time and cause the most trouble.
Jan 15 2013
Rank #9: ProdPod: Episode 78 - Hoarding, Part II - How is compulsive hoarding defined and classified? with Professional Organizer Sally Reinholdt
Sally: Hoarding is considered compulsive if it meets three criteria. First there is accumulation accompanied by great difficulty in discarding items that most people would consider useless or of limited value. The second criteria is that the clutter is to the point that the intended use of living spaces is severely limited or not possible. The third and last criteria is that the cluttering in combination with the acquiring and difficulty discarding causes significant impairment and distress.
Sally: The Institute for Challenging Disorganization classifies hoarding with a clutter measurement tool called the Clutter-Hoarding Scale. Homes are classified from Level I through Level V. A standard household is considered to be a Level I. Level II homes can have some narrowing of household pathways and inadequate housekeeping. Level III to Level V homes present increasingly serious situations. Clutter can be present outside as well as inside the home, there can be insect and rodent infestation and generally unsanitary conditions. Individuals working with hoarders in these types of situations need to have backgrounds ranging from but not limited to mental health and financial counseling to professional organizing, pest control and project management.
Ray: If you believe you might have hoarding issues, click on the link in the show notes here on ProdPod.net to download the Clutter-Hoarding Scale [ http://goo.gl/dy9xWf ] tool to see where you fall in the scale.
In the next episode we'll cover how hoarding is treated and managed.
Dec 10 2013
Rank #10: ProdPod: Episode 52 -- Overflowing Inbox: Try Some Email Overload Relief
An overflowing inbox is something that we have all probably experienced at some point in our personal and professional lives. Unexpected life circumstances happen and as well we sometimes get lax in our discipline to manage our email traffic on a regular basis. In this episode I give a simple strategy for managing this email overload and some email services that are handy to help manage your email from getting to that point in the first place.
Services mentioned in this episode:
- Sanebox (I get a free 5$ account credit for each person that signs up using this link.)
- Boomerang Gmail (I get some kind of credit for you signing up using this link, but I can't figure out what that is!) :-P
- Gmail Valet
The first step is to shut off the email spigot. Create a strategy for sustainably processing your inbox from today forward. Then look at your backlog and attempt to establish a breadcrumb method for dealing with the back email messages. For example, a friend and colleague of mine takes the oldest days worth of email and the last two days' email to process. Doing this every workday along with keeping up with the inbound email today is manageable and in just a few days or weeks's time, you're back to Inbox Zero. To help with shutting off the email spigot, there's an email service called Unroll.me. It helps you unsubscribe from all those email newsletters you think you should be receiving but they're really just distractions. Another service is called Sanebox. It automatically filters messages that you don't need to deal with right now so that you can bring those into view when you actually want to address them. I really enjoy being able to train Sanebox and seeing the statistics of how many hours it saves of my time. Also a favorite service of mine is Boomerang Gmail. It enables you to send email out of view then come back to you at a predetermined date and time. Also Boomerang Gmail is able to schedule an outbound email and has several other really great features so check this one out, for sure. And finally there's a new service called Gmail Valet. What I understand about the service is that there are real humans who have access to your inbox. And, as new email arrives they review your email to see whether or not it's actionable. If it is, they add it to a task list for you and otherwise move nonactionable items according to your specifications. It's currently free to use in beta! So there you have it, a strategy for dealing with email overload and some services that can possibly help you from it getting overwhelming in the first place.
Feb 07 2013
Rank #11: ProdPod: Episode 50 -- Productivity Tips for Fitness with Noelle McKenzie of Fitness a Way of Life
Jan 24 2013
Rank #12: ProdPod: Episode 20 -- Self-control & Savings: Productivity for the Long Haul
When I was in my late teens and was into reading books on financial literacy, I learned along the way a peculiar definition of "savings." Savings, according to this definition, is the deprivation of something now for later benefit. I struggled for many years of swallowing the idea of depriving myself, since savings was a positive tactic in financial strategy books I read. Savings was supposed to help you feel safe and pacify you about the uncertainty of life, not something that was scary and made you think of scarcity in your everyday life. I learned many years later that the true lesson of my unfortunate relationship with the definition of savings was that self-control, discipline and habits are inherently positive and deprivation was not the right choice of words. It wasn't until I read Steven Covey's 8th Habit when he discussed the concept of discipline as freedom, that I broke this negative association with the word savings. What those financial strategy books were trying to explain but never quite expressed was that a productive life means having the self-control to determine your own path--past, present and future. I mean that by understanding and guiding one's experiencing self and remembering self, you build a skill to build a life of fulfillment. It wasn't about a mass of money I'd put out of reach so that I'd miss rich life experiences only to be able to afford to keep up with the cost of living when I'm old and fully gray. It was even more than the adage "a penny saved is a penny earned"...it was that small habits of planned giving and taking make huge positive impacts long-term. This lesson has always been intensely motivating and I use it regularly to remind me that it's not about doing more with less, but doing more begets more and doing less begets less and both are useful tools.
I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS EPISODE OF PRODPOD. THIS IS RAY SIDNEY-SMITH AND THANKS FOR LISTENING! HERE'S TO YOUR PRODUCTIVITY SUCCESS...IN TWO MINUTES OR LESS.
Oct 11 2011
Rank #13: ProdPod: Episode 11 -- Power Productivity Through Active Listening
We have so many forms of communication available to us today. Technology keeps improving and with a globally-connected, 24/7 society, you could easily have engaging conversations 'round the clock. With all this capacity and experience with digital communication technologies, it makes sense that some of our interpersonal skills will change or need refreshing, like active listening. This episode is a series of quick tips I've gathered over time for power productivity through active listening.
1. Ask more questions than giving declarative statements, then stop talking and listen to the answers being given. You'll be surprised how much you can accomplish when you let others do and say more.3. Ask clarifying questions to let your speaker know you're listening and engaged.4. When possible, make eye contact and pay attention to body language.5. Repeat back what is said in your own words, so the speaker knows you listened and understood what was said. This is also an opportunity for her to clarify in case you haven't.6. Once you have mastered the art of active listening. Teach it to others. Pay it forward. As the old adage goes, if you teach something you learn it twice, plus it will save you time and hassle in the future.
2. Hearing is a sense. Listening is an active process. Develop your skills for listening not just hearing.
Aug 11 2011
Rank #14: ProdPod: Episode 110 -- Overcoming Indecision
Do you have a good idea of how well you manage uncertainty and make decisions? For most people, there is no well-defined strategy for overcoming indecision in their productivity systems. I think everyone should think about how to reduce distress and increase action through some basic components of good decision-making.
Feb 26 2017
Rank #15: ProdPod: Episode 109 -- Overcoming Distractions
Feb 24 2017
Rank #16: ProdPod: Episode 19 -- SMART Goals for Project Planning
I use the SMART criteria specifically during my planning phase of any project, for writing out my project descriptions thoroughly. For example, before I used SMART criteria for my goals, I would write a goal as: Increase company's third quarter revenue. Now, using the SMART goal format, the revised goal is written as: Empower sales managers to implement our sales/marketing plan to increase company's third quarter revenue by 15% in the southeast region to determine annual bonuses, by dedicating one day of every week to the team. By its face, it's certainly much longer than the original, but more importantly, the detail with which the goal is defined, it allows me to view my Projects list with no question about the mission, vision and general action plan for how I'm going to complete this project. It answers the questions of why, what and how, so you can get to work, motivated and ready for action. I hope writing SMART goals becomes a useful tool (and regular productive habit) for you in getting more of your important, not-urgent projects accomplished.
Oct 04 2011
Rank #17: ProdPod: Episode 18 -- Someday or Maybe?
I distinguish between someday's and maybe's. Someday's I *will* do. Maybe's maybe not. For someday's I always put parenthetically after the description "Resources Needed/Wanted:" which asks the question: what would I need or want to happen that would trigger me to do this someday item right now? For me, this makes someday's realistic and available for when that "missing link" becomes available, whether that's time, money, emotional energy to invest, credentials, a new delegatee, a call from my mother, or so on. So, in practical terms, I use two context lists to manage the various someday/maybe's in my life and work. This puts an intrinsic greater importance on somday's than on maybe's, so I typically review someday's every week during my Weekly Review. Whereas, my maybe's are items that I plan to review at least quarterly, but most of the time I come across the list monthly when I find the mental-emotional energy and time to think about my maybe's list. By its nature, they end up being somewhat of a wishlist of things I'd like to accomplish but haven't yet figured out how to accomplish, but with a little creativity I can make them a someday or perhaps even an actual project or next-action. This is just one modification of many to GTD that I've implemented in my own personal productivity system, and it benefits me by allowing me to move stuff to definable goals without cluttering my active projects or next-actions lists with yet-to-be-productive items.
Sep 29 2011
Rank #18: ProdPod: Episode 14 -- How to Form a Productive Habit, Part 3
This is part three of our 4-part podcast on How to Form a Productive Habit. In this episode, we'll be discussing the realities of forming habits using the most current scientific data on automaticity.
This is part three of our 4-part podcast on How to Form a Productive Habit. In this episode, we'll be discussing the realities of forming habits using the most current scientific data on automaticity.About a year ago, the research associate in Health Psychology, Dr. Phillippa Lally, at University College London DEPARTMENT OF EPIDEMIOLOGY AND PUBLIC HEALTH in theHEALTH BEHAVIOUR RESEARCH CENTRE performed a study on habit formation systematically as they reach automaticity.The findings are quite interesting, albeit there are some constructive criticisms of the work. Here are the four main outcomes of the study and how it may help us with forming productive habits.1. Automaticity took on average 66 days to be reached. Yes, 66 days. Banish the old concept of doing something repetitively for 21-30 days as once was thought.2. Each person varies for similar habits. In the study, we found that the times ranged from 18 to 254 days to reach maximum automaticity. There are many variables why this may be the case: trying to learn too many new habits at once, not enough focus, time and/or attention, or other not-so-easily distinguishable idiosyncrasies. Ergo, don't think about reaching automaticity so much as the work of forming the habit. It'll reduce burnout.3. Complex behaviors take more time. This may seem obvious but our previous understanding contradicts this. Don't beat yourself up so much about not building a productive habit of exercising regularly; it turns out that it may take significantly longer to reach that automatic state.4. Counter to the great psychologist William James's theory, you can actually omit a behavior (say, miss a day at the gym) and it will have negligible effect on automaticity and long-term impact. However, there was some evidence that the effects of omitting the behavior was cumulative and so it's not a ticket to slack off, otherwise you won't be able to build that productive habit.So, there you go. The real deal, theoretically, about forming habits from the latest in psychological understanding. Please join us for episode 15, our final part of How to Form a Productive Habit, where I'll be covering practical aspects of learning productive habits.
Aug 23 2011
Rank #19: ProdPod: Episode 112 -- Overcoming Burnout: Rest and Rejuvenation for Sustainable Productivity
Burnout is a systemic problem not a situational/circumstantial challenge. And, so overcoming burnout is more about how to build systematic “down time” and renewal into your life and work for sustainable productivity. Here are some suggestions for both rest and rejuvenation.
Feb 28 2017
Rank #20: ProdPod: Episode 15 -- How to Form a Productive Habit, Part 4
This is the fourth and final episode in How to Form a Productive Habit. In episode 14, we discussed theory and now we'll be discussing a practical strategy and tactics for coming out victorious in your endeavor to form a productive habit.This is the fourth and final episode in How to Form a Productive Habit--Learning a Productive Habit. In episode 14, we discussed theory and now we'll be discussing a practical strategy and tactics for coming out victorious in your endeavor to form a productive habit.
First and foremost, always beta-test your new productive habit with a balanced perspective (not a critical one)...if you think of this as trial-and-error you'll be motivated longer to build the productive habit.
Second, Do more of the activities that develop the productive habit while conditioning yourself at the very end of habit development, so that when you feel ready to move to your normal habit schedule you're actually just slowing down not having to ramp up.
Small, phases/milestones with no real end goal...definitive goals are a habit killer; adjust for habituation; and, reward good habits (extrinsic motivation helps). Visualize yourself doing the new habit, but also think about the emotional fulfillment you'll feel when you practice the new habit.
Aug 25 2011