Want High Productivity? Get the truth about “Pomodoro Technique”

I was at my vehicle service department recently when I saw that the cashier had several massive stacks of documents behind her. I asked her what they were, and she told me they were work orders that needed to be processed.

I mentioned how that looked like a daunting task and she said that it was.  She then mentioned that two other ladies helped as well when they had some spare time and they all hated the job.

Perhaps you have been in a similar situation?  You have a task that seems insurmountable and you hate doing it. We call that overwhelming work and we naturally hate doing it.

One of the reasons we hate doing it is because it seems thankless and endless and as hard as we seem to work we get little sense of accomplishment from all our hard work regardless of how diligently we apply ourselves.

Remember, that at the end of the day most of us just want to hear a “well done” from the boss so that we can go home feeling satisfied that our work was appreciated and meaningful, or at least see that we have accomplished something worthwhile; hard to do with an overwhelming number of massive stacks of work.

There are two techniques that can help us with this and make the task more enjoyable along the way.

The first one is chunking. In the case of the lady at the service department rather than her taking the first paper from one of the massive stacks and starting to process it, she could take a few minutes to organize the stacks of paper into smaller chunks (piles) of similar category such as week or month or even day.

Once the documents are organized into smaller chunks, it would not be too difficult to look at those chunks and assess what is a reasonable size of stack to deal with in a day.    Now the lady could take that day sized stack and split it into two, one for the morning and one for the afternoon.

The task is to just start processing work on that smaller morning chunk and apply the second technique throughout the morning which is the Pomodoro technique.

Pomodoro is the Italian word for “tomato.” The story goes that a man called Francesco Cirillo, came up with the technique using one of those plastic tomato shaped kitchen timers.

Anyway, the key is that you set the timer for 20 minutes and work solidly on your task without interruption. Of course, you must let your coworkers know not to interrupt and remember to set your phone to voice mail and close out Facebook etc.

At the end of the 20-minute work spell you take a five minute break to get water, or send a tweet or whatever but when the buzzer goes at the end of the five minute break it is back to focused work for another 20 minute “Pomodoro” There are a number of apps out there and some you can download for free directly onto your computer or phone as the case may be.

The benefit is that at the end of the morning and again at the end of the day you can see some accomplishment and get the feeling of moving forward thanks to using a simple timer and a system.

If you use the timer on your phone you can set it to for any time, you choose.  Some people use 20 minutes with a five-minute break and some choose 25 minutes with a five-minute break. The time settings should suit you and your environment.

If you are a disciplined and focused worker, then this may not be the instrument for you because you are already productive.

However, for those that struggle staying on task, breaking the work day into these smaller units can be really effective by improving productivity and how the worker feels about the task.

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Trying Seems to Be an Acceptable Excuse

Trying Seems to Be an Acceptable Excuse for Failing Without Taking Responsibility.

I’m not sure when the whole dislike for trying crept into my head. Perhaps it was when I was teaching young people how to cook and when things did not work out they would say “yeah, but at least I tried”. Meanwhile the mushroom soup tastes like yukky water.

It seems to me that when I make mushroom soup it needs to taste delicious and like mushrooms. If it does not taste like this then I need to make some adjustments until it does taste delicious.

If I say I tried and leave it at that then the soup is horrible and I have passed on the responsibility because I have said well at least I tried.

If the soup is horrible and I say “that is not the result I am looking for” then in my mind I need to look for a better result. I won’t look for a better result until I take responsibility. I tried seems to be a ready-made excuse for not taking responsibility and for quitting with the task at hand.

Often, we tell our children just try your best and if they do not achieve that which they tried then we can say well at least he tried, what more can he do?

I thought that if two things changed we might be better off.

The first thing is that not achieving something is just a natural part of the learning curve and as such welcomed. When we welcome not achieving something and see it as a result that dictates our next action then we are moving along the path to success.

Anthony Robbins once said, “If you can’t, you must. If you must, you can.”
When it comes to taking control of life, successful people do not try. They make taking control a must. Think of a time when something in your life became a must. You just had to do it. There were no ifs, buts, or maybes.

When you absolutely have to do something, you just do it. Try never comes into the equation

“I’m trying, Kevin, but I just can’t get my business off the ground.” or “Kevin, I am trying to compete in the Olympics, but I can’t seem to qualify.” Every time I hear the word “try,” the term “definite maybe” comes to my mind. When you say the word “try,” you are already implying you will not do it.

I want you try and say your name to yourself. GO ON SAY IT.

Did you do it? Did you say your name?

You either said your name, or you didn’t. There were no ifs, buts, or maybes.
Humor me for a second. Ever tried to go to the bathroom when nature calls? I’m talking about when it really calls. Or did you somehow make it happen? You get there one way or another because it is a must for you. It just happens. You do your business.

Think of women in general for a second. All of us have or have had Mums at some point and time. Did they try to bring us into this world? No, they just did it.
If someone you care about is in danger, do you try to help them, or do you just get on and do it?

Either you do or you don’t. It’s that simple. In the words of Nike, “Just Do It.”
What I am getting at is that the word “try” shouldn’t even exist. In fact, if I had it my way, I would make the use of the word “try” illegal. Ban it from your vocabulary. Make everything that is important in your life a must. http://ow.ly/i/FRyEI

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Putting it Off Again? 6 Reasons Why You

Putting it Off Again? 6 Reasons Why You Do That.

I do not know about you but I can be a terrible procrastinator at times. I have looked at my procrastination habits and tried to reason why I fall into this activity even when I know that it is not serving me well. I wish I could tell you that I have come up with some failsafe quick fix so that you will never procrastinate again but unfortunately this is not the case.

I can however give you a few points for you to consider and there are a few of them so I shall do a couple of posts about beating procrastination and hopefully they will have some value to you.

The first step is to want to beat procrastination and recognize when you are procrastinating. If you are doing any of the following when you have work to complete you are probably procrastinating.
* Cheating on your to do list by rationalizing a lesser task when you should be on a more important task.
* Spending too much time getting ready to do a task and then when you sit down convince yourself that you need to go get yourself a drink and then you’ll really get going.
* Saying yes to any minor distraction and believing you are being useful even though deep down you know you should be working on the more important task.
* Putting the important task off because there will be a better time later on like after lunch or some other reason.

Once you recognize that you are actually procrastinating stop and think about what you are doing. You know that you should be working on the important task but something is making you avoid doing that important work. See if you can identify the why and then look at dealing with that particular why.

Some common why’s that people procrastinate:
1. The task is too big for you
2. You do not know where to start
3. You do not have everything you need
4. You are not motivated or inspired to do it
5. Fear of failure
6. Fear of success

See if you can identify which reason is yours for putting off that task and then watch future posts for how to overcome those reasons. Stick with it because you deserve to be a winner. http://ow.ly/i/FRyzP

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Procrastinator? Not motivated? Fear of S

Procrastinator? Not motivated? Fear of Success or Failure? Check it out:

Sometimes when it comes to procrastination the reason can be that you are just not motivated or inspired enough to do it.

Ask yourself this; if your life or the life of the person you love the most depended on getting this task completed what would you do first and how would you feel about it. You see sometimes we have a negative Nelly in the back of our minds giving us some rational for not being motivated. Your task is to identify what this negative Nelly is saying and then reframe it. Years ago, I used to hate jogging and would jog like my legs were made of lead and my lungs were no bigger than an egg cup, but if I saw a pretty lady jogging towards me all of a sudden I would pick up pace and increase my breathing and jog like I was made for it. Silly, isn’t it? I’m not particularly proud of that but I did realize that we always have so much more ability than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. Use your imagination to reframe that lack of motivation and give yourself some reason to get going now.

Feel free to add a nice little reward to yourself once the task is done as well.
If you have identified that you have a fear of failure then you need to get a clear picture of what is going to happen if you do not accomplish this task you are procrastinating on. If it is that you will have to go in front of your boss and get a talking to then imagine that as clear as you can and then shrink the picture in your mind until it is the size of a small dot and then vanishes completely. Do this over and over again so that your mind totally erases the picture you have of being a failure. Now imagine what would happen if you got the task done early and took it into your boss. See yourself getting the accolades from her and feel that warm glow of success and accomplishment. Repeat that image often and grow the picture so everything is bigger and brighter and more wonderful. With that clear picture of success get started on the project. Should that negative image creep back in then tell it to leave and replace the picture in your head with the wonderful picture of success you painted for yourself. Practice this often it is really amazing how it works.

If you have a fear of success it is probably because you have an image of you not being worthy of completing this task and whatever it is that goes along with completing it. Once again you can use the imaging exercise above and see you as being worthy of the success. Repeat the image you invent for yourself over and over again until that is the only image the brain has for that situation. http://ow.ly/i/FRys7

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Don’t Let Life Happen TO You, Make It Ha

Don’t Let Life Happen TO You, Make It Happen FOR You

I have worked with many professional managers over the years and it seems to me that many of them get really good at life as it happens to them.

Most jobs have some kind of structure that we have to follow anyway and there are usually key result indicators that keep us focused on what needs to be done to help make sure that we are all productive.

There are also daily challenges with people, materials and machinery or equipment that we have to deal with. We learn as we go along and get better at dealing with these challenges as they hit us and soon this becomes our comfort zone. We start to spend more time on dealing with activities than we do on planning and analyzing our productivity to see where we can improve it. This is what we call dealing with life as it happens to us. The same can be said for our families, we know when the Birthdays are and what the kids need to do for each grade so they can slowly work their way up to college and hopefully success in the big world after college.

It is not easy to step out of this mold and it takes a definite desire to be able to turn things around. If you want to make life happen for you then you have to know what it is that you want to happen. You have to have a clear picture of all of the aspects of your life such as career, health, education, family spirituality, finances, contribution and social. Once you have dreamed up a future for each of those areas you need to right them down as clear measurable goals. These goals then need to be broken down into all the smaller steps that are necessary to accomplish those goals. These smaller steps then need to be put into your planner over the appropriate period of time. The period of time could be anything from one year to 25 years or more.

Then your job is to make sure that every day you are following the steps that you have planned out.

For example if you wanted to lose 20 pounds of weight that could be put down as 2 pounds per month for ten months. Most people want to lose 20 pound in two weeks and when that doesn’t happen the go back to old habits. So to lose 2 pounds a month you would need to start to monitor your daily intake and see how many calories you are taking in daily. Once you know this you can now plan to make just a few small changes that you can stick to and then follow those changes on a daily basis. Instead of two wines with dinner have one. Instead of six ounces of meat have four ounces of meat. Instead of three sodas a day try living with just one and drink more water.

Dream your dreams. Plan them out in detail and then just follow the plan. Adjust as you go along and keep the changes small and stick with the plan. Before you know it you will be achieving goals and instead of letting life happen to you, you will be making your life happen for you! http://ow.ly/i/FRylh

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If I Gave You $86,000 & You Had to Spend

If I Gave You $86,000 & You Had to Spend It Every Day … Would You Be Wise?

Have you ever thought if someone gave you some money; say deposited $86,400 into your bank every day and you HAD to spend it all, every day, what would you do with it? You cannot save any of it as it will disappear at midnight. Would you think carefully about how you spent it?

Did you know we get 86,400 seconds every day? How do you spend those seconds? Do you spend them wisely?

So many of us lose so many of those seconds because we are not prepared, we don’t have any goals or are not as organized as we could be. We don’t have to work for the majority of those, but think about how much more time you could have to yourself if you have more control over your time! Being able to plan your day effectively will allow you to have more control of your life and allow you to enjoy life more, to become more successful.

Planning for your success is so important in life. Many people just presume that success will come and blindly wait around for this to happen. It doesn’t! In order to be successful we need to create a life map. Just as we would when we go on a trip, we need to plan. How much more important is ‘life’s journey’ than a trip to anywhere – yet so many of us wander through life randomly.

If you take some time to write your goals and plan your life you can start to control your future. Start by planning big goals. Thinking about what you want to achieve in life for your professional life, your health, your spiritual life and your personal life. Come up with a plan for the next year, a five-year plan and a ten-year plan.

There are many tools around that can help you. Start to manage your time and enjoy your 86,000 seconds every day. http://ow.ly/i/FQYdL

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What We Find Depends on What We Look For

What We Find Depends on What We Look For

Growing up as a lad we were taught that children should be seen and not heard. So we let grownups speak and we listened unless we were asked a question. Old fashioned I know, but that is how it was. I would listen to adults sharing opinions on everything from the price of bread to how the country was going to the dogs. (They should have let it; maybe the dogs would have done a better job!)

As I was growing through my teens I never really had an opinion on anything very much and was always quite happy to go with the flow of my school or my friends. When I hit my college years I pretty much kept quiet as I really did not know what to say to start a conversation. As I listened I picked up the opinions of those around me and started to adopt and share those opinions. In the army we were pretty much a working class group of lads and learned to become good at complaining. I became a pretty good complainer, if I say so myself and could give a good complaint about the sergeant or the regiment or whatever else we were talking about and could generally get plenty of nods of agreement from my friends.

Later on in life as I entered my thirties I had a number of colleagues share with me that I was quite opinionated and could be somewhat bombastic when sharing ideas or solutions to problems.

I have since learned differently. Back in the early eighties I was listening to some audio cassettes by Rita Davenport and she said that we don’t always find the gold (goodness) in people because we are not looking for it.

This got me to doing a lot of pondering about the idea especially during my 40 minute commute every day. I believed that certain people were just useless because of my narrow judgment on them. I started to look for the good things in people and realized that I had only been looking at folks through a very narrow lens.

I wanted to change that and be able to be much less judgmental and far more considerate. Any change that is so big can be a tough pill to swallow and so it was for me. I was however, determined to make the adjustment within myself so that I could learn to begin seeing the gold in other people.

I think I have come a long way since my early thirties and am much more flexible and mostly unattached to any judgements such that I can easily let go of judgements, opinions and even thoughts that do not serve me well.

If we see someone as unapproachable or obstinate, then that is all we will see because we unconsciously behave towards them as though that is all they are. They in turn unconsciously act that way because that is the way they are being treated by us.

I have found that if I continually practice not being attached to my knee jerk judgements of people, reach out and communicate with them and listen more than I talk, then I can often find the gold in them. Once we find the gold in people we can treat them as if they were gold and they generally respond accordingly. Yes, what we find really does depend on what we look for. http://ow.ly/i/F7xS2

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Say What You Mean, and Mean What You Say

Say What You Mean, and Mean What You Say.

Often times when I am in the company of people at work I am delighted with their generosity. People offer to do small things for me like post a letter or pick up a package on their way back from lunch or even drop off an envelope on their way to another office. I often think how nice it is that we all want to help each other.

I am a trusting soul so that when someone says that they will do something I believe them and carry on as though it was already accomplished. A challenge can often arise when the promised deed is not done. I will ask what happened and then listen to the excuses. “Oh yeah I really meant to but I got distracted” or “well actually I had a change of plan and will do it for you tomorrow” or “I didn’t realize you wanted it done today!” and on and on. If only we were getting paid for the creativity of excuses.

So where does this leave me? Often a task I thought was completed ends up with me now having to find time to fit it into my day. This can waste my time because without the offer of help I was fine anyway and had the deed as part of my plan. When I accepted an offer of help I thought that was boosting me along with my plan and saving me time. To find out it is not saving me time after all can end up being frustrating as well wasting my time unnecessarily.

Then there is the quality of my relationship with the people that let me down. If it happens once in a blue moon I can accept that, yet when it happens more than a couple of times I have to set a new strategy on how to deal with some people’s offer of help. As much as I want to keep trusting people and keep the friendly relationship going, it would be a poor business decision on my part to accept an offer of help from someone who has let me down more than once. I now need to think about how I can decline their offer without upsetting them. Well, I could be open and honest and just say “I find that your track record of help is very poor and based on that choose not to accept your kind offer of help”. The thing is that if I say something like that in many work environments that will be seen as me being aggressive or not easy to get along with or maybe not even a team player. Not wanting to be seen as an aggressive person or non-team player I will probably just say something like “oh thanks for offering but that’s fine I got this”.

The challenge for many of us is that we have a lot to do in our day and a limited amount of time to be productive. Given that limited time for the work we have to do offers of assistance and help would be wonderful if the people that made the offer really meant it and followed through in an appropriate manner. So why offer to help someone if you are not going to follow through? I do not think they plan to not follow through, in fact I suspect the problem may well be that they do not plan at all. I think they probably have a subconscious desire to feel needed or wanted and when they see something they could assist with they only see that it is something that they can do but do not see themselves actually doing it.

I do know that I am not a psychologist and cannot change the folk that offer to help and then let me down. I also know that I strive not to be like that, I practice thinking if I will really do something before offering help. I strive to always make it a priority to complete the task I have offered to help with so that I know within myself that I am reliable. I follow the mantra Say what you mean and mean what you say…otherwise say nothing. http://ow.ly/i/F7wBp

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