You Can’t *Not* Do Something

What do you do when you don’t know how to do something? Or you have something you want to do but don’t have the time to do it?

The answer is easy but difficult: you simply do it.

Everyone has twenty-four hours in the day. To accomplish your goals of leveling up with your skills, learning new technologies, or working on side projects that you want to turn into your main income, you must make the time to work on it.

Make Time Stop

Most of us have to work full-time, requiring at least nine hours per day when counting commute time and extra hours. If you have a family to care for, you also need to spend time with them, caring for your children and spending time with them.

kanbaIf you don’t carve out time to work on your projects, you will never make any progress. You must look at your schedule and what you spend your time on and find ways to make it happen.

Wake up an hour early twice per week, or two hours early. Stay up late an hour and work. Take a lunch break but work on your project then.

Cut down on watching videos and television series, on playing video games, on facebook, and be amazed at how much time you gain. Ask your spouse to support you taking an evening per week or a day per month to work on your project. Explain how doing so will “buy your freedom” from having to punch a clock everyday.

Tools to Help

Use tools to help you in your work: a kanban board like Trello or Kanban Flow where you can add and track tasks you want to work on. Use the pomodoro technique to focus your work periods and give yourself small breaks.

Learn to use email (like Inbox Zero), reminder tools, and automated systems to streamline your efforts. The more you automate your processes and make systems, the more you are freed up to work on the next big project.

You can learn so much now with free YouTube videos, online learning academies, and tutorials. Figure out what you want to learn and start a side project with it. We are all constrained in varying ways by time, but also most of us waste a lot of it.

So get off your “buts” and start on your project today!

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Tame your email distraction with inbox zero

I am always amazed when I see someone open their email and see an inbox with thousands of unread emails.  Do you really think you are ever going to get around to reading all that email?  Why keep it in there if you can’t address its contents?  In this post we will discuss what “inbox zero” is.  Then we will see a few reasons why aggressively keeping your inbox at zero is so important.

Inbox Zero

Inbox Zero isn’t some fancy thing that is super hard to explain.  It is the act of aggressively managing your inbox to keep it at zero emails or as close to zero as possible.  And the ZERO in the name Inbox Zero actually doesn’t refer to the number of emails in your inbox.  It refers to the amount of time you should spend managing your email.  The more time you have your mind in your inbox the more your productivity will suffer for the things that are important.

Keep in mind that you can’t be awesome if someone sends you an email and you never respond.

5 reasons why you should keep your inbox at zero

  1. It is inefficient to keep scanning through the same list of emails you have already looked at.
  2. A loaded inbox adds pressure to your mind.  A clean inbox is freeing.
  3. If you let the inbox pile up, you are basically giving in to someone else imposing a todo list on you.
  4. Email is no different a distraction to your day to day productivity than email.  We think there are all sorts of very important nuggets of information in there…but that is rarely the case.
  5. Email is a horrible way to communicate.   Ever find yourself sending an email to a person that is just 5 feet behind you?  Get up and walk over.  If it is important enough to say in an email take two seconds to have some personal connection.  Build some bridges.

10 ways to achieve inbox zero

  1. Don’t leave the email client open at all times.  Instead, schedule when you manage your inbox as a single unit of time.  Using the pomodoro technique is good for this.  Time box how long you will look at your email.  And eradicate the email as quickly as possible so that you can get back to real work.
  2. Processing your email once every house is likely good enough.  If you can do this task even less frequently your thought process won’t be as fragmented.
  3. When you first open your email look for any mailing lists that you don’t care for and go through the steps to unsubscribe yourself.  This will make future activities more efficient.
  4. Then seek to remove as much noise as possible by deleting or archiving mail that isn’t important.
  5. Now scan for email that you can forward to other people that might be better suited to deal with the topic of the email.
  6. Following the GTD principles, if you can address an email in two minutes or less, do it now and get it out of the way.
  7. For any emails that you can handle now but need to be responded too, move the email to a folder called “requires response”.  In your next “email session” you can spend some time cleaning out that folder.  Some folks alternatively choose to leave email in the inbox that requires response and instead follow the rule that you don’t leave work or go to bed until the inbox is cleaned out.  Personal choice here.
  8. Get in the habit of using tags on your email.  This way the mail system can make your email sorting process more efficient.  I like to add a tag to denote what client an email is for.  I also tag email that specifies me in the TO line directly vs. a distribution list email.  One is usually more important than the other.
  9. Once you respond to an email, immediately archive it.  This removes the noise from the inbox.  And if it needs an additional response it will come back to you and show up again.  If there are follow up tasks requiring your attention you can use a task tracking tool to schedule that work.
  10. When you can remove yourself from a conversation, do that!  Please stop replying all!  Or ask to be removed from a noisy distribution list when possible.

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