5 tips to make the most of your time

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Philter Coffee, Kennet Square, PA

As you may know, Claudia and I are expecting baby #2 in about one month, (Wow! That sounds soon!) and this momentous occasion got me thinking about a lot of things. Not the least of which is how I can make the most of my time before the baby arrives.

Reflecting on how I’ve been getting my best work done, I realized there are a handful of tips and strategies that I rely on pretty heavily. They’re not original to me, but I wanted to share what’s been working in hopes that it might help you.

Here they are:

Tip #1: Go somewhere inspiring and new

Rather than working in my home office, when I need to get something important done, I’ve found it works best when I go somewhere inspiring and new.

Not only are there fewer distractions because I don’t hear our 2 year old playing down the hall, my creativity and focus increase when I’m in an inspiring environment.

Lately, I’ve been going to this great, new coffee shop nearby, Philter Coffee, and I love it. (It’s actually where I’m writing this post from now!)

Tip #2: Determine your 3 MIT’s for the day

This is a tip I picked up from Leo Babauta’s book, The Power of Less. What I do is look over my list of tasks for the day and determine what my three “most important tasks” (MIT’s) are.

Leo says to consider which tasks will have the most impact over the long term when choosing your MIT’s and to ask yourself the following three questions:

1. Will this have an impact that will last beyond this week or this month?

2. How will this change my work, my business, my life?

3. How will this further a longterm goal of mine? How important is that goal?

Once I have my three MIT’s, I start with those and work on those one at a time until they’re completed. Not trying to multitask here has been huge.

Do I get more then three things done a day? Sure. I’ll often have a short list of smaller items that I batch together and do after my MIT’s are done.

Tip #3: Get rid of distractions

This is a productivity tip that I heard about over and over, but never did a great job with. I decided to take it more seriously, and I’ve been very happy with the results.

Here a couple things I’m doing:

1. Keep a clear desktop – This includes both my physical desktop and my computer desktop.

2. Get out of the house – This way, there are fewer distractions and all the other things I want to get down aren’t there for me to see (see tip #1).

3. Listen to music that gets me focused – I use Focus@Will which is a free app (there’s a web-based version too) that plays music which has been selected by neuroscientists to increase productivity.

Tip #4: Capture ideas right away

This has been a real game changer for me. I used to simply try to remember things in my head. And, you know what? A lot of times, it worked. But what I realized was it was really affecting me having a clear head.

Many times I’d find my mind racing with supposedly all the things I had to do and remember. Then I’d take a second to jot them down and realize there were only five things in my head but it felt like 25 because they kept bouncing around!

Now what I do is capture ideas, thoughts, things to remember as soon as I think of them, no matter how small. This is a tip I picked up from David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done.

The tools you use to capture things aren’t important, it just needs to work for you. For a while, I just used a legal pad. Now, I’ve switched to digital and love it.

These are a couple of my go-to tools:

1. SoundEver – This is an iPhone app that lets you quickly record directly into Evernote as a new note. I love using it for blog post ideas and when I want to record something in an audiobook I’m listening to while driving.

2. AnyList – This is another iPhone app that Claudia and I use for our shopping list. It’s a simple, clean list app that let’s you sync between users. If I’m stopping at the store on my way home, Claudia can add items to the list from home and it’ll be included in my list when I get to the store.

3. Calendar 5 – This is the calendar is use on my iPhone which syncs with my Google Calendar on my laptop. I list it here because it allows me to include date-specific tasks.

If I’m meeting with a client and want to remember to followup with them on something at our next appointment, I simply create a task with that date and it’ll show up right there in my calendar on that day.

Tip #5: Get organized

Over the past few months, I’ve taken the time to get more organize in both work and life in general. I’m pretty organized by nature, but I realized I didn’t have a good system in place for many things. I’d have some things over here, and others over there.

For getting organized, like with tip #4, capturing ideas right away, the tools you use aren’t important, as long as you have an effective, efficient system that works for you.

For me, the main tool I’m using here is Evernote, which I referred to in tip #4. Evernote is my digital filling cabinet. It’s where I store everything from my To-Do list, to ideas for an upcoming project, to photos of the menus I want to be able to easily reference.

If you aren’t familiar with Evernote, I highly encourage you to consider it. I resisted jumping into it for a while because I didn’t want to take the time to learn a new system.

However, the learning curve really wasn’t bad at all. And now that I’ve become familiar with it, I love it and wish I would have utilized it sooner.

Here are two resources I found really helpful on learning Evernote quickly:

- Kent Sanders 3 part video tutorial

- Michael Hyatt’s blog posts on Evernote

Video intro to Evernote:

So, as baby #2’s birth draws nearer and nearer, these are five tips that have really help me make the most of my time.

What about you? What is your favorite tip of the five tips and what would you add to the list? I’m always looking for new ideas and ways of doing things.

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  • http://brucercross.com/ Bruce R. Cross

    Michael – enjoy the baby process….one of the true treasures of this life. I think I might check out the FOCUS @ WILL app….sounds relaxing!

    • http://rise365.com/ Michael Good

      Hey thanks, Bruce. And let me know what you think of Focus at Will.

  • http://www.threedimensionalvitality.com/ Ann Musico

    Michael you always have the best and most unique tips and resources! My favorite is Focus@will! Never heard of that but have some CDs that are created to do the same thing and I love that tip!

    • http://rise365.com/ Michael Good

      Nice, Ann. Let me know what you think. They have a subscription based version, but I’ve just been using the free version and love it.

      • http://www.threedimensionalvitality.com/ Ann Musico

        That was my plan!!! Thanks again.

  • http://www.skipprichard.com/ Skip Prichard

    Michael, terrific post! I also practice MITs (though I haven’t thought of them that way). And getting rid of distractions–that would be a dream. That’s a goal in itself!

    • http://rise365.com/ Michael Good

      I hear you, Skip, on getting rid of distractions being a goal in itself! Usually not easy, for sure.

  • http://www.liveitforward.com/ Kent Julian

    Great post! For me, I focus on the 20% of my activities that produce 80% of my results…then I design my day to give 80% of my time to the 20% that gets 80% of my results. I call this the reverse Patero Principle (smile).

    • http://rise365.com/ Michael Good

      Nice, Kent. Had to think for a split second, but makes great sense and sounds like a solid plan. Has that been tough to follow through with? For me, it would be good to sit down and better figure out that 20 percent.

      • http://www.liveitforward.com/ Kent Julian

        It’s not as tough as it sounds (explaining it is tougher). The end-result is so powerful, you get addicted to investing 80% of your efforts into the 20% that pays the biggest dividends. I focus on doing this in my marriage, with my kids, in my business, and in my personal development. It’s a game changer in all these areas!

        • http://rise365.com/ Michael Good

          Love it! You know, there’s got to be a product in there somewhere… Something that helps people identify that 20%. Create it and I’ll buy it and promote it. ;)

          • http://www.liveitforward.com/ Kent Julian

            We have this – http://liveitforward.com/store/goal-getting-e-book/

            This explains the Reverse Patero Principle in detail. If you get this ebook and still need help identifying your 20 percent, I’d love to chat through that with you. Perhaps there is an additional product that could be combined with this one.

          • http://rise365.com/ Michael Good

            Thanks great, Kent. I might have to take you up on that!

  • http://artistssuitcase.com kentsanders

    Michael, thank you so much for including a link here to my Evernote training videos on YouTube. I truly appreciate it! I recorded them a couple of years ago and have updated everything (and included a lot more) in my full Evernote training course – TakeNoteSystem.com. I love Evernote and use it every day.

    I also use Focus@Will – listening to it right now, in fact! The jury is still out for me on it – most of it just sounds like elevator music to me. But I’ll continue to give it a shot. I tried the “ADHD Beta” setting and that was crazy!

    • http://rise365.com/ Michael Good

      Excited to get into your Take Notes System, Kent. And I’ve no idea what’s going on with that “ADHA Beta” setting!

      • http://artistssuitcase.com kentsanders

        Right – the ADHD channel sounds like complete chaos to me. Somehow that is supposed to help those who have ADHD to focus … but I have no idea how because it sounds like a musical mess. (If anyone can help me understand that, I’m listening! lol)

  • http://stevespring.org sespring

    Great Post. I really like Tip #2 If we can accomplish our 3 MIT’s every day, we will not only be super productive, but have more time to spend on the things that we would rather be doing like spending time with our family and friends. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://rise365.com/ Michael Good

      Thanks. Yes, the three MIT’s have been very helpful for me! Thanks for your input.