Friday, December 12, 2014

Being Productive During the Holidays -- Yvonne Ventresca

Some of the most important things in life are intangible: health, love, time. I can’t help much with health and love. But I do have some productivity tips to share, because people generally don’t walk around during the holiday season thinking, "I have plenty of time!"


Here are some ideas that might help you make the most of your time:

When planning your day, do the hard stuff first. Although it seems like human nature to put off a difficult phone call or a hard-to-write email, getting it done early in the day creates a sense of accomplishment. (I also like to group multiple hard tasks together. If I'm going to be in a bad mood, I might as well make the most of it.) When you're finished, the tough stuff is no longer hanging over you, draining your energy. Freedom!

On a similar note, if you can control the order of your tasks, do the important things first. (These are sometimes also the hard things.) Author Stephen Covey demonstrated this by filling a jar with big rocks, then pebbles, then sand. At first, people thought it was a lesson about how much you could cram into the jar. But his point was actually that if the big rocks didn't go in first, they would never fit. Take care of the "rocks" first.

Rocks = important things.

The article “The Best Way to Change Your Habits? Control Your Environment” by Gregory Ciotti discusses an interesting way to set up habits. For example, he uses different devices depending on what he's doing -- a laptop is for emails but more meaningful writing is done at a desktop computer. The electronics help signal his brain what he’ll be working on. You can use this for other writing tasks, too. For instance, I always proofread in a different room from my regular writing and editing.

Other productivity tips include the power of getting started, working with scheduled breaks, and dividing tasks into manageable pieces. "The Science of Productivity" is a fun three minute video from The Sparring Mind that explains these concepts and a few more.



If you have other time-saving or productivity tips for this busy time of year, please share them below. I hope you find time for all the important things in 2015!

11 comments:

  1. Thanks, Yvonne. I needed this post this morning. Signed--someone who is running around like a maniac with a handful of pebbles (and a rotting pumpkin on my porch. Christmas is in TWO WEEKS???)

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    1. Jody -- I love the image of the handful of pebbles and the rotting pumpkin! Somehow, everything always manages to get done though, right?

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  2. I loved this post, Yvonne! I'm always collecting productivity tips (with a full-time job, a teaching job and a writing career, I have to!) and oddly I never thought of the simplest and most essential piece of advice you give here... Do the hard thing first! YES!

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    1. Stephanie -- I'm glad you liked the post. :)

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  3. Wonderful tips! The visual of the big rocks will be a great reminder when I chip away at my to-do lists. My writing time often falls off the bottom of my daily list after I spend way too much time accomplishing what are possibly less important tasks. Seems we all need more time nowadays.

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    1. So true -- it is always a struggle not to save writing for last, after the more tangible things!

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  4. All great tips. I usually just put everything down on a list and try to fit getting them done sometime during the day--morning is my best time. After 2PM, I'm close to useless. Off to find some big rocks.

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    1. It's good that you set an afternoon deadline. I wish I was more of a morning person!

      (Removed other comment because of stupid typos...)

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  6. I love the idea of proofreading in a separate room!

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  7. This is so helpful, Yvonne. Thank you! I especially like your idea about tackling the hardest thing first.

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